Everywhere we look these days there is a sign in bold letters stating ‘VEGAN’, from restaurants, to festivals, labels on jars and even TV. The rise of veganism is now officially mainstream, and with this rise comes a lot of choice, innovative vegan remakes, budding businesses and an instagram feed full of meat and dairy free yumminess. Vegan pop up Lazy Boy Kitchen (& I am Hip Hop Family) have been cooking up a storm in this market, known in the community as the vegan world’s favourite Mac n Cheese… we meet founder Rodean Vafa to find out more!
How did Lazy Boy start?
I love to cook and had always dreamed of owning my own food business. The problem was I could never decide on the right food to centre my brand around. In 2016 I had recently gone vegan and began experimenting with plant based recipes. I noticed the majority of available vegan cheeses were using a lot of oils, starch and artificial flavourings. I put myself on a mission to create a better, healthier alternative. I tried a cashew cheese recipe with macaroni and it was like a lightbulb went off in my head.
I am sure you get asked this a lot — why the name Lazy Boy?
I wanted a brand name that encapsulated the style of low-n-slow BBQ cooking we do whilst also capturing my personality. Although I am a lazy guy by nature, it is a bit of an ironic inside joke as anyone who runs a food business knows there is no time for laziness.
Veganism is on the rise — have you always been vegan? If not why did you make the decision?
I decided to go fully vegan about 2 years ago. The journey started mentally. I always knew deep down that animals suffer in farming and that companies will add any $#it into the food for profit. However when the horse meat scandal broke; it was a point of no return for me. I was amazed how so many people talked about how terrible it was, but refused to change their eating habits. To me I felt if it could be horsemeat, then really it could be anything. From then the journey began; cutting out processed meat first, then dairy, then massively reducing the amount of overall animal product consumption. Then a friend came to visit me from abroad who had recently gone vegan. She asked me to take her to all the best vegan places and to try out being animal free with her for a weekend. I gave it a try, and saw how easy it was and how much better I felt mentally. After that I stopped enjoying the little amounts of chicken that remained in my diet and haven’t had it since.
We have heard a lot about your mac n cheese, what is the secret that makes you stand out?
The secret is love ?. As cheesy as it sounds; making my cheese sauce is a labour of love. It is all homemade and takes days of manpower to prepare. Our cheese is also made from simple, raw ingredients. No processed or artificial flavours here.
What has been the biggest challenge in running your own food pop?
Making enough food to feed the masses. It’s like no matter how much we prepare, how big we go; the people want more!
What are your 3 favourite vegan quick fix dishes?
I eat a lot of lentils, grains, veg and raw shakes. Check out my Insta stories for my daily quick fixes.
What are some good nutritional tips for anyone planning on going vegan?
The key to healthy vegan diet is variety. Make sure you eat enough of fruits, veg, grains and some treat foods. If you want to gain muscle then make sure you combine plant proteins with whole grains to get the full amino acid profile.
Whilst there is a move towards the mainstream market, a lot of cultures have always been making vegan food as part of their daily diet. Many have argued that there is a lot of cultural appropriation in the vegan food market. What are your thoughts?
Interesting question. Cultures like Indian and Caribbean have had vegan concepts from day. Much like the emergence of popularity with yoga; ancient lifestyles often become fads in the western consumerist society. Now that veganism is on the rise, it’s inventible that more businesses will pop up. However running a company takes capital and requires the owners to support themselves financially before the business becomes profitable. Whether we like it or not; some white, middle class people are in a better socio-economic position to do this than the BME community; hence they can capitalise off it. At the same time there are plenty of people of colour offering vegan spins on their cultural foods too. It’s up to the individual to decide who they want to spend their money on.
A lot of Hip Hop artists have made a conscious effort to share the fact that they are vegan, which has influenced a lot of the younger generation to also think about what they eat. Are there any artists who have stood out for you?
Akala, Black the ripper, JME have helped make veganism cool, but to be honest I tend to look up more to bodybuilders, nutritionists and business owners as they are helping redefine the vegan stereotypes.
Besides yourself what vegan food vendors should we check out?
There are loadssss. My recommendation is to go to vegan food markets and festivals and try out a variety.
Where can we see you next and What does the future hold for Lazy Boy Kitchen ?
We are a pop up at the moment so follow us on social media @lazyboykitchen for our next location. We hope to get a permanent spot in 2018 — so holla if you got a place.
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