Born and raised in Zurich, Lauren of Vegan Kitchen, is currently working on a cookbook for mothers (with a special focus on pregnant and nursing women), babies and toddlers and is also a caterer and vegan cooking class instructor! With a self proclaimed heart belonging to the world wide sea, she spent much of her 20’s traveling around the world as a diving teacher, now enjoying motherhood, cooking and book writing in her native Switzerland.
Annika: Would you consider the area where you live very vegan friendly?
Annika: You went vegetarian in your early teen’s so you have had some time to really witness the movement that is veganism. When did you become vegan and why and how do you think public perception has changed in the last couple of decades with regards to consumption and veganism?
Lauren: I studied fine art at the art college in Zürich 2009 and became vegan that year. I immediately began my art projects with this theme to record. With a rice cooker and some vegetables and spices packed on my bike, I toured between flea markets, art events and even techno parties. In 2009 I found a big location to open the first vegan restaurant, Vegan Kitchen and Bakery, in Switzerland. Two years later I sold the space to a vegan company which manufactures soybean products. I studied at University in 2014 to obtain a Masters in Fine Arts. Since the restaurant sale, I built my catering business and teach a vegan cooking class every week every week. I offer a large selection of cooking classes and workshops, from vegan level 1 to 10 course vegan menu, . My dream would be to have my own TV-Show in the Swiss-Televison, to bring the topic even more to the people.
Annika: You are working on a second cookbook for vegan pregnancy as well as young children. Very exciting! Will this be one of the first German language books on recipes for pregnant vegan mothers and their children?
Lauren: Exactly, it will be the first and we will translate it into more languages. Until today there is no book on the market for all four stages: vegan pregnancy, nursing-time, infancy and toddlers. Nourishment will the main theme. It is first a cookbook, but also a challenge: I encourage different medical practitioners to read the text, as well as nutritional consultants.
Annika: What inspired you to write this cookbook for mothers and children?
Lauren: I was naturally inspired by my own pregnancy and the birth of my daughter. My research showed that in the book-market there was not yet a single practical book for the whole theme. I have now read at least 10 books on the theme and can say that it is totally possible to carry out a vegan pregnancy and child upbringing as long as one is extremely well informed.
Annika: What were some signature dishes your first vegan restaurant in Zurich and can you see yourself opening another restaurant?
Lauren: The experience of the Swiss gastronomy with all its hurdles and prohibitions intimidated me for the rest of my life! Here in Switzerland, it is really not easy to operate as gastronomy, unless one is millionaire: The rules are very strict and costly, the profit small. I’d rather drive my catering ahead, there the costs are much more predictable and the contracts are so wonderfully varied. In my restaurant “The Vegan Kitchen and Bakery,” Wednesday was always burger-day and we made the best sales of the week! We made a soybean sprout burger -patty that we offered in a whole grain homemade burger bread and served with seasonal salad or oven baked rosemary-lavender potatoes. On Friday there was always the vegan sushi, an explosion of flavors.
Annika: If you were vegan through pregnancy can you share any special changes you made (i.e. with diet & nutrition) when you were pregnant?
Lauren: I realized that I must certainly not eat for two- in the first 3 months everything was as usual. After that I increased consumption of soy yogurt, which I have previously rarely eaten. In the last month of pregnancy and during breastfeeding I recognized that I now demanded 500 calories more a day. It is a wonderful experience to see a child growing by being fed only your milk. It demands a lot of energy from your body but is very powerful to see your milk as a mother helping your child grow fast and become stronger and stronger.
Annika: What are some of your daughter’s favorite foods?
Lauren: We cook her only whole grain pasta and she is eating almost all the vegetables I cook for her. She loves them with Turmeric and Linseed Oil (rich in Omega 3!) and we cook her lots of beans, lentils and hummus.
Annika: What is the mainstream perception about vegetarianism and veganism for children at schools in Zurich? Are vegan options common for school meals?
Lauren: We have here in Zurich a childcare center where the cook began to offer vegan menus. Before there were vegetarian options with some cheese and butter. We have some luck in that a few employees in the center became vegan.
Annika: Have you had experiences with doctors or nurses who were skeptical about your or your child’s health because of veganism?
Lauren: Of course, all the them skeptical. However, if you can argue well with information and if the blood tests of my daughter and I show a positive result without lacking vitamins, what can they say then?
Annika: What are some of your favorite foods?
Lauren: I love organic, quality whole grain vegan cuisine, enriched with plenty of vegetables, salad and a little fruit. The latter are for me considered as sweets and I do not consume fruit in excessive weight.
Annika: Favorite restaurants?
Lauren: The Earth Cafe in Bali.
Annika: Favorite meals to make for your family?
Lauren: A versatile vegan kitchen is the core to a healthy vegan diet, I always focus on biological (Bio/Organic) quality.
Thank You Lauren!
Visit Lauren Online:
All images provided by Lauren
This interview is part of an ongoing interview series by Annika Lundkvist with vegan mothers and fathers around the globe. For more interviews and information please visit this page: Interview Series: Vegan Pregnancy, Parenting & Kids.