Philanthropist and entrepreneur and health advocate Cornelia Guest is perhaps not a typical vegan. The daughter of actor, socialite, and fashion icon C.Z. Guest and polo champion Winston Frederick Churchill Guest, she’s about as blue-blooded as they come. But Guest is also an activist–and an animal lover. Which is what inspired her to write her new book, Cornelia Guest’s Simple Pleasures, which blends healthy vegan cooking and baking with high-brown entertaining.
Simple Pleasures is a unique cookbook, full of gorgeous photos, featuring delicious vegan versions of holiday favorites, potluck-perfect dish dishes, and plenty of baked treats, all elegantly arranged on beautiful, antique dishes. I talked with Guest, who is a Huffington Post contributor and has also posed for PETA, about her unique blend of practical, beautiful entertaining and veganism, as well as the inspiration for her cruelty-free life.
Here’s our conversation:
Why did you decide to make the switch to becoming vegan?
I first started because of the health aspect, but the more I read and learned, I realized the suffering of animals, and I didn’t want to be a part of it. I wanted to do something to try and stop it.
You entertain a lot–do your guests notice that your dishes don’t include meat or dairy?
Well, they do, but most of them are so delicious they don’t miss it!
Right–and it seems like many of the recipes in the book are adaptations of family favorites. Was it difficult for you to find replacements for classic dishes? How would you recommend our readers do the same?
There is a lot you can do with seitan, tofu and tempeh. My suggestion is to figure out what you like the best and sub it.
I made delicious Shepherd’s pie with seitan, but you can make a meatloaf with it as well, or make tempeh pot pies, etc. There are a variety of things you can do and eat, you just have to figure out what you like. And then experiment–that’s the fun part!
I hear that a lot from vegan chefs–that experimenting with what you like is the biggest step for cooking at home. What about attending events where there may not be any vegan options? How do you politely handle those situations?
It’s so easy now because there is always a veggie or vegan option. And I can always have salad or vegetables. So many people are asking for it now, it’s getting easier and easier every day.
That’s definitely true. What about the people you meet? Does it surprise people to find out that you live a cruelty-free life?
Yes and no. People know how much I love animals but when you really set your mind to do something and do it, it’s always surprising to some people. I also think it’s surprising to people how easy it actually is.
Yes! I’m so glad you said that. It is easy! Is there anything else our readers should know?
Experiment and have fun with it. It can be delicious! This is what works for me but everyone should look for different ways to find a healthy balance in their own life.
Image via Bruce Weber