This post is part of an interview series in which I’ll be asking my very favorite bloggers ten questions, with the goal being to share both a little about each of them and also their top advice when it comes to veganism, blogging, and overall happiness.
Boston is a great city for many reasons, but where things are a little lacking is in the vegan fine dining scene. I’ve known this for a while and I really knew this when I got back from my NYC foodie weekend last Fall (thank you, Pure Food and Wine for ruining most other restaurants). This is why I’m settling into the fact that fancier homemade meals are the way to go, and whenever I’m searching for inspiration, I always look to a fellow Boston blogger: Erin Wysocarski of Olives for Dinner.
Whereas desserts are more my thing, savory meals are more of Erin’s focus, and she’s especially influenced by Asian flavors, which I love. What really sets Olives for Dinner apart though, in addition to the stunning photography, is that Erin makes cooking more elaborately at home approachable, with simple ingredients and preparations, elevated through bold flavor combinations and beautiful presentations. From her more recent Miso-Scented Portobello with Garlic Cauliflower Mash to Sweet Potato and Rosemary Beignets…who needs to go out to eat?
Also, Erin’s cat might just have the best name ever (see below).
1. What is your food philosophy?
I think that food should make you happy, and it’s a great way to connect with others—whether it’s at a table, through the Internet or a cookbook. I don’t count calories, fret over fat grams and strive for dietary perfection. For me, vegan food and cooking is all about discovering and adding new ingredients thoughtfully into your diet, instead on focusing on what’s been so thoughtfully eliminated from it.
2. If you could give one piece of advice to new vegans, what would it be?
Don’t unnecessarily overwhelm yourself with being perfect! It took me a good year or so to learn all about eating vegan, and I did it at my own pace. If you accidently eat or use something that’s not vegan, take it as a lesson learned and move on. Animal products and byproducts unfortunately permeate their way into every facet of our lives, so there’s a considerable learning curve involved. Aiming for perfection on Day One is just setting yourself up for failure!
Also, I love the saying “Your beliefs don’t make you a better person, your behavior does.” Living as a vegan in a very non-vegan world can be isolating and frustrating at times, but setting a good example through good behavior is just as critical as the food choices we make.
3. Why do you blog?
I blog because I have to! I have all kinds of ideas pop into my head all the time, and a blog is a great place to put them. Blogging also forces me to think creatively, and to try new ingredients and techniques I wouldn’t have considered otherwise.
I crave connections with other vegans, so blogging is the perfect way to do that. I also think it’s a great form of quiet activism. I know that not everyone is going to go vegan, but everyone can try vegan food, and I love having the opportunity to change any negative perceptions about it!
4. If you could give one piece of advice to new bloggers, what would it be?
Blog because you love it, and don’t expect an instant audience. I blogged for a good year and a half before I got something that felt like real readership, with stats to back it up. But I didn’t let the fact that very few people were actually looking at my content disappoint me in the beginning. Instead, during that time, I loved figuring out how to do things like write recipes correctly, style food, post at the right times for optimal readership and figure out how things like coding and SEO worked. If you love what you do, it will show in your end product, and people will eventually start to notice it!
5. If you had to choose a favorite and a least favorite word, what would they be?
Favorite word: bamboozle
Least favorite word: twerk
6. If you weren’t you, who would you be?
I would love to be a really strong businesswoman or CEO! But, being me, I don’t really have that savvy, drive, command and courage that it requires. But I really do admire all of those things.
7. What is your idea of happiness?
My idea of happiness is either reading a book or watching a movie with my cat in my lap, drinking a good beer with my husband or friends and enjoying or cooking a delicious meal with others.
8. What makes you unhappy?
Seeing or reading about cruelty, injustice and greed in the news and on social media, and especially how it affects animals. It’s all so overwhelming and heartbreaking to learn about the people and corporations who don’t care about the needless suffering they cause for the sake of profit.
9. What is your best kept beauty secret?
Drinking lots of water and getting enough sleep.
10. If money did not matter, how would you spend your days?
I would love to be a food writer! I absolutely love learning about food, connecting with other people who love food and discovering places that offer good food. Having the opportunity to write about that would be a dream come true.
Erin Wysocarski is the creator, recipe developer, food stylist and writer for Olives for Dinner, while her husband, Jeff, photographs all of the food on the blog. When she’s not blogging, she’s either reading the latest issue of Bon Appétit, hanging out with her cat, Nimrod, or rummaging through the grocery store aisles in Boston’s Chinatown. Read more here or contact Erin.