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Veggie Stories | Talking with Lauren Toyota from ‘hot for food’

‘hot for food’ is one of my all-time favorite vegan blogs! I’ve been following Lauren Toyota’s blog for quite some time and today I will share her story with you, in the interview below, so you can get to know her and visit her amazing blog! 🙂

‘hot for food’ welcomes us with an awesome selection of recipes that seem so easy to make! The food Lauren makes is delicious, gorgeous and straight-to-the-point, plus the photography is plain gorgeous. From her vegan nacho cheese to burgers, cheesecake and mac’n’cheese, she makes the idea of being vegan so appealing and affordable!

Go ahead and check out hot for food if you want to read exceptional content and find some vegan recipe inspiration!

minimalist spice labels

P.S. Want to read more interviews with my favorite bloggers? Check out Veggie Stories!

What made you turn vegan?

L.T.: I watched the documentary Food Inc. and that’s essentially what got me motivated to make a real change. I had always been concerned about my health and food choices and was vegetarian as a teenager but going vegan was something I just thought I would / could never do.

That movie got to me in a way nothing ever had and from there I read The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan, got into Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Diet, and just knew I had to change something!

When and how did you discover your passion for cooking?

L.T.: I’ve always been into cooking from as early as I can remember. Even as a kid I had a toy kitchen that I played with pretending I had a restaurant and a cooking show!  I think because my Mom always cooked for us and experimented with recipes from books and magazines that must have rubbed off on me.

The vegducken by ‘hot for food’

hot for food shows us on a daily basis that vegan food is far from boring with gorgeous photographs and awesome recipes and videos! What’s the story behind your blog and how it all started?

L.T.: I started it as a blog when I decided to transition to a vegan diet. This was late 2009. It just seemed like a fun, creative way to keep myself accountable to the things I was doing and experimenting with food. It was really nothing and just a hobby. It didn’t even look good! It had terrible photos and an awful Word Press template that I didn’t even know how to customize or do much with.

But around 2014 I sort of re-branded hot for food and launched the blog properly. By that time I had become a little more familiar with creating stuff online, like a website that I made in Squarespace, and it was much cleaner and user-friendly! I had also been posting to @hotforfood on Instagram and it was really seeing a lot of momentum.

I spent a year just doing Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and a blog, creating original recipes for my site as well as some other online destinations like Food Network Canada’s blog. Then the YouTube channel came into existence in early 2015 and that kind of changed things drastically and grew this into a real business which is where I’m at with it now.

What would you consider to be your greatest achievement since you started hot for food?

L.T.: I think just having people interested in the content I make is a great achievement. With SO much content available online it can seem impossible to think what you make could actually surface and make an impact. I just love that I get to do what I love and people actually care!

Smoked cashew cheese toast with poached pear & fried thyme by ‘hot for food’

Your debut vegan cookbook is ready! It contains 101 recipes and it will hit the shelves on 27th February 2018, but it’s already available for pre-order. What can you tell us about the book?

L.T.: The book has mostly all new recipes that haven’t been on the blog or YouTube channel before. But I did throw in a few of the most popular hot for food staples that people know and love.

You can expect drool-worthy full-page photos for every recipe which I think is very important because that’s what actually makes you want to make the food yourself!

It’s all classic comforts as the title Vegan Comfort Classics suggests and you’ll find gratuitous photos of me feeding my face, because hot for food!

What are the top 3 pieces of advice you give everyone that wants to make a change and turn vegan?

L.T.: Honestly, it’s simple. Just do it. Stop thinking about it and start making small changes to your diet and lifestyle. Inform yourself and learn about where your food comes from and what the ingredients in things you eat actually are.

And lastly, get in the kitchen and cook for yourself.  Cooking a meal for yourself is the most empowering thing you can do and the biggest form of self-love and care. Once you ignite that and form a habit around cooking for yourself it really transforms things.

Vegan cookies ‘n’ cream cupcakes by ‘hot for food’

Favorite fruit and favorite vegetable in the world?

L.T.: Avocado!

What are the top 3 most popular recipes on your blog?

L.T.:  Buffalo Cauliflower WingsThe Nacho CheeseChicken Noodle Soup.

The Nacho Cheese by ‘hot for food’

And your top 3 favorite recipes ever that you’re always happy to make?

L.T.:  The Nacho CheeseThe Perfect Mac & CheeseTofu Benny with Hollandaise.

Tofu Benny with vegan hollandaise by ‘hot for food’