July 15th, 2016
Posted By: Emily Vallely

We are so excited to share this exclusive interview with the lovely Kenden Alfond, author of Jewish Food Hero. Whatever your background, race, or religion, you can incorporate delicious vegan meals into your life!

Jewish Food Hero

So many people claim that they can’t go completely vegan because they don’t want to give up tradition and culture. You are obviously a great example that you can be vegan and still honor your religion and background. What advice would you give to people in this position?

Tradition and culture give our live context and are not to be a prison. We must all remember that there is an opportunity to contribute to our traditions and to our cultural framework. We can modernize and make our tradition and cultures healthier.

In terms of the food, being “completely” vegan is not for everyone. Each person has to decide how they want to eat and feed their own family. With that said, all of us can place healthier dishes on our table and can make traditional Jewish foods healthier. Even these small changes improve our food traditions for our generation and our children’s generation. The more you put on the table that’s good for you, the more you crowd out the less healthy options.

Jewish Food Hero Spiced Stuffed Apples

Your cookbook is filled with so many delicious traditional Jewish recipes with all plant based ingredients. What is your favorite recipe in the book?

Do I have to choose? Let me give a few of my favorites. For Rosh Hashanah I created a healthy Morocaan inspired menu. The appetizer is a Sweet Squash Spread that can be served with apple slices and/or Challah. The main dish is oil-free Ras El Hanout Vegetables Over Couscous. Dessert is a Spiced Stuffed Apples.

For Yom Kippur, the inspiration is Italian Jewish foods. From that menu, I love the break-fast Cardamom Coffee Cake and the Butternut Risotto.

Lastly because I love simple comfort food, the Passover Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
Pistachio Apple Cake are high on my favorites list!

Jewish Food Hero Sweet Squash Spread With Apple Slices

When and why did you go vegan?

When I was 12 years old, I became a vegetarian after reading a part of a simple book about Mahatma Gandhi. His commitment to nonviolence in all aspects in his life, including food, inspired me to change the way that I ate. During my teenage years, I experimented with veganism and tried to find the right way for my body and mental/emotional self.

As I became an adult and started traveling all over the world as an aid worker, I started to see the environmental impact of my food choices and got an intimate view of traditional food cultures. I see how traditional diets are centered around starches with very little meat and dairy included. It was then that Plant-based eating started to make sense to me in a holistic way. I went on to take a Plant Based Nutrition Course and started Jewish Food Hero

JFH_calendar2016_FULL_mockup

What are some of your goals for the future? What do you hope to accomplish by spreading veganism?

For Jewish Food Hero, my goal is to nourish the minds, bodies and spirits of Jewish women around the global. Jewish Food hero will continue to offer low-fat vegan recipes that are a modern twist on traditional Jewish meals to support an intuitive turning towards greater health. I’m also providing inspiring and beautiful resources, such as the luxe letterpress holiday calendar, to support women as they engage in Jewish life and foster self connection.

Personally, my goals are to skillfully parent my daughter and create a loving home. At the same time, I aim to contribute to society in a meaningful and supportive way.

My food intention is to continue to eat a simple plant based diet and cultivate a non-extreme attitude about food. This will allow me to feed my family and guests in my home nourishing foods in a loving atmosphere.

pessach all together

Any vegan cookbooks or blogs that you recommend?

Yes, for vegan books, I advise that people read The Starch Solution by Dr. John McDougall first to get grounded in the basics. This books gives you clear and supportive information about plant based nutrition without being overwhelming or extreme. Included in the book are some very tasty and simple everyday recipes.

For blogs, I personally enjoy the recipes on Susan Voisin’s Fat Free Vegan Kitchen Blog. For cookbooks, in my kitchen are Lindsay Nixon’s Happy Herbivore Light and Lean Cookbook and there is mine — The Jewish Food Hero Cookbook: 50 Simple Plant-Based Recipes.

What is the most rewarding aspect of veganism for you?

Plant-based eating allows me to feel well physically and it aligns with my values. It is a privilege for me to bring this healthy resource into Jewish tradition and culture.

Kenden Alfond
Kenden Alfond is a Jewish food blogger and cook book author. She transforms traditional Jewish meals into plant based/healthy versions.