As I headed to the book launch of vegan chef Maria Amore last week, my mind wandered back to a day in high school health class. During the class we were shown a video which graphically detailed all the destructive ways smoking ravaged your body. Being the mature, thoughtful teenager that I was, after watching the video I of course promptly went outside and lit up a cigarette. Being told how bad it was for me only made me crave the thing more.
After discussing veganism and trying out some treats from Cooking with Amore, I wondered if I would experience a similar feeling of rebelliousness? Would I leave the book launch and crave a hamburger afterwards? Living on my own, the cost of food is usually the deciding factor of what goes into my shopping cart. Like many others I’m sure, the life of the animal and its journey to the grocery store is honestly something I’ve never given much thought to.
I’m sure my outlook on food consumption would be very different of course if, like Amore, I was faced with a serious illness. Amore’s first career was in law. And with the long hours and intense pressure that came with being a corporate lawyer, Amore had no time to think about food preparation and nutrition. Because of this, Amore says, eventually her body succumbed to exhaustion.
“With the medical doctors at a loss as to how to help me, I decided to take matters into my own hands and started learning about nutrition,” Amore writes in the preface to her cookbook. While studying nutrition, Amore was horrified to learn about the truths behind factory farming and made the decision to become vegan. Combining her new belief system with her love of cooking, Amore knew she’d found her true calling as a vegan chef.
Amore became so adept at promoting her new profession online (including writing an FTB food column for two years) that she was recently offered an exciting new career opportunity.
“I was approached by investors who’d seen my Facebook page and asked if I’d like to run a vegan bistro in Mexico,” Amore told me during the book launch, grinning widely, “living in a tropical climate has always been something that’s interested me, so it wasn’t a hard decision. And because of the bistro, I’m thrilled to be able to donate all proceeds from the cookbook to the SPCA animal shelter.”
Amore left Montreal last Friday, and Bistro CasAmore will open later this year in Mexico.
Leaving the book launch I did not end up going for a hamburger, but instead thought about trying out some of Amore’s recipes like vegan shepherd’s pie, Portobello burgers and curried chickpeas with couscous. Unlike my teenage self, I am finally beginning to understand the importance of a balanced, healthy lifestyle.
I did finally quit smoking two years ago but I fully admit I still have a long way to go before I can truly say I lead a healthy lifestyle. Moderating my meat intake and combining it with more vegetarian and vegan options seems like a pretty great start.
Here is a recent interview Amore did with Global Montreal promoting her book:
Photos by Adida Khavous