George Black & David Stowell, Veganopolis


David Stowell and George Black are professional vegan chefs with a twenty-two-year-long commitment to creating accessible, cruelty-free cuisine for all. After starting out in 2003 with a small delivery cart, they ran the popular Veganopolis Cafeteria from 2005 to 2008, and developed a huge international following for their delicious, no-nonsense, versatile vegan cooking. (Their Veganopolis website averaged more than 150,000 hits per month from around the globe.) The Veganopolis Cookbook is the first-ever cookbook from David Stowell and George Black. They developed an international following for their delicious, no-nonsense, and versatile vegan cooking, and now Stowell and Black have captured 70 of their most popular Veganopolis recipes in this terrific and easy-to-use cookbook.


Hello, I’m Caryn Hartglass and you’re listening to It’s All About Food. A very happy, happy July 13th to everyone out there. It’s a particularly special day for me and I’ll share a little bit with you right now and maybe a little bit later in the show. It’s a special anniversary for me, I happen to be 4 years cancer-free today. Woohoo! I went through a really harrowing experience. I know there are all different types of cancer. There is cancer light, there is cancer serious. It seems like cancer is as common as the cold today. That is one of the reasons why I like talking on this show. It’s all about food. There is so much that nutrition can do for our health and our long-term wellness. You can visit my new non-profit organization and read the blog that I put up today called Life is Tremendous. Maybe will get back to some of that a little later, maybe not. Right now I want to talk about my very favorite thing- food, delicious food. A couple of guests that have come out with a cookbook that I am really, really digging. It’s the Veganopolis cookbook and it’s by David Stowell and George Black. They are professional vegan chefs with a 22 yearlong commitment to creating accessible, cruelty-free cuisine for all! They started out in 2003 with a small delivery cart and they ran the popular Veganopolis cafeteria from 2005 to 2008 and developed a huge international following for their delicious no nonsense versatile vegan cooking. Their Veganopolis website has averaged more than 150,000 hits per month from around the globe. That’s a brief little introduction and I want to know a lot more about both of you David Stowell and George Black. Welcome to It’s All About Food.

David Stowell: Here we are, I’m David.

Caryn Hartglass: Hi David!

David Stowell: Hi.

George Black: And I’m George.

Caryn Hartglass: Well thank you so much and thank you for this beautiful cookbook, I’ve really been enjoying reading it and one thing I can tell right away, just by reading it is that I know that if I met you two I would like you.

George Black: I really enjoyed watching your video on the REAL website and we are aligned very much with a lot of what you had to say about the vegan diet.

Caryn Hartglass: The feeling that I get from the book is very joyful and very friendly and that’s what it is all about to me. I know you know but there are a lot of ugly horrible things going on in the world today. I think these things have been going on in various forms ever since life began probably.

George Black: That’s true.

Caryn Hartglass: I would like to think that we are evolving; we are making this world a better place. I always want to put out, and this book is a part of it and what you’re doing is a part of it, is the way for us to rise above and have fun!

George Black: Yeah, let’s take a step forward. I did a 25-mile bike ride for Friends of the Park here in Chicago and I was thinking about, I was meditating on back in the late 80’s when I change over to complete vegan diet. I was thinking, just moving ahead a little farther in life. Maybe some of my friends were behind me and I was like, “Hey come on!” I’m waving my arms so that they come up and join me in moving forward.

Caryn Hartglass: A nice little metaphor there.

George Black: Yeah!

Caryn Hartglass: I like it. I really don’t know very much about you and you are kind of very brief in terms of what you’re sharing, in terms of who you are in your book. But it does say that you two met in a band around 1979 or so. Then somehow it jumped into the culinary arts. David you went to study in France?

David Stowell: That’s correct. I’m a graduate of the Escoffier school in Paris. What I really wanted to accomplish with that course of study was to get a good grounding in the classical techniques of cooking as laid down by Escoffier 100 years ago. I was a vegetarian the time I went to school.

Caryn Hartglass: That was my next question.

David Stowell: I was accepted when there was really not a lot of jumping around the issue of vegetarian, non-vegetarian at the school. We were just there to learn, it was a great experience. What I wanted to do was to be able someday to apply the techniques and principles of the classical kitchen to the vegan diet because I think the way the vegetarian, vegan recipes and cuisines have evolved over the years have been fairly haphazard. I thought perhaps this kind of approach might be productive of something new and interesting and also something that would be perhaps more easily communicated to people who are just starting out with this sort of cuisine, or are just interested in what is available in vegetarian, vegan cooking.

Caryn Hartglass: It is just like any skill, over time we get better at things and in cuisine, sure, much of the knowledge with cooking is using animal based products. But, if you break them down into what they really are: oils, starches, proteins; you can find suitable substitutes that respond either exactly the same way or very similarly and use those same phenomenal skills that have been developed over hundreds and thousands of years.

David Stowell: Absolutely. Absolutely. Flavors, textures, colors, are kind of our palate as we create food in a pro kitchen. We have been able to produce things that are just phenomenal proven to meat-eating customers. There was really never a point in which people said,”Ew, this is vegetarian food, I don’t like this.” It was usually; I’d say 99% of the time met with complete happiness and joy.

Caryn Hartglass: Now, you started with a delivery cart?

David Stowell: Well, not a delivery cart per-say. We were in Portland, Oregon and we had a food cart that was established at a specific address. Customers would come to us, much like the carts in New York City. We developed our cuisine in that environment and then moved on to the restaurant environment.

Caryn Hartglass: Another thing I like about the beginning of the book is just really good explanations about how to prepare when you’re cooking. I’ve read a lot of cookbooks and there are some really good suggestions, some sensible suggestions. I know they say that when people get cookbooks they usually make at most 1 or 2 recipes in the book.

George Black: Oh, that’s too bad.

Caryn Hartglass: Well, I read that somewhere, I don’t know if it’s true. I think it’s really important to read what you’ve written. There is some very simple, friendly, easy, good advice about how to prepare. It’s so important to prepare. To be organized, to plan, think ahead. It makes it so much easier when you’re actually putting it all together.

George Black: The Veganopolis cookbook is about 30% of our repertoire. We focused it on the restaurant. We have very many interests. We make vegan Japanese; we make vegan soul food…

Caryn Hartglass: Does that mean there’s going to be two more books coming out soon?

George Black: Yeah, I’m working on one now. It’s never ending. I have at you’ll see I just post new recipes and some of the ones from the book like the techniques. But I post them almost daily because I’m just always cooking. It’s always of interest to me.

Caryn Hartglass: Right.

George Black: When I had begun getting involved in the animal issues and animal agriculture I already had a lot of cooking skills. I had jobs in delis and restaurants, I knew I was going to be staying in that field. I just kept developing the most approachable plan for a restaurant that I possibly could from the could, drawing from experience, well I like the way this restaurant was managed or the way they presented this. But, mostly to make it the most accessible I could to non-vegans, to present food that was approachable to them and that included everybody. It was not exclusive, it included everybody. We used to call it the everyday food party at Veganopolis on our daily specials. The cookbook is referred to as comfort food at times. So a lot of the recipes are mainstream like the vegan New York Ruben sandwich. Now that’s a very classic corn beef recipe, only it’s using seitan. It’s not complicated and it has simple ingredients. We have things like savory bread pudding. There are also versatile recipes. The savory bread pudding was one of the most popular items of our weekend brunch. Everyday sandwiches and simple baked goods. It really is the heart of our restaurant. It was our mission to present accessible, familiar food. It worked! It was a lot of fun and we are going to continue now that we are back in our hometown Chicago.

Caryn Hartglass: Well one thing that we’re seeing more and more is that your conventional, not your vegetarian restaurant is starting FINALLY to be adding vegetarian and vegan items on their menu. Although I’d like to see the whole world become vegan and the whole world populated with vegan restaurants. The next best thing is to have vegan options on every menu. I can see a lot of the sandwich and soup recipes being included in any restaurant.

George Black: We don’t use a lot of specialty ingredients. They are common ingredients to be found everywhere.

Caryn Hartglass: I wanted to bring that up too, I’m glad you mentioned it.

George Black: The wheat gluten may be the only item you would have to get from say a Whole Foods or a health food store. You can also buy it bulk online. If you go to in the side bar you’ll see a very good place to buy bulk vital gluten flour to make your seitan online. But otherwise our kitchen was, it was a very streamlined restaurant. I planned out the inventory of spices and supplies long before the restaurant opened. It was meant to be concise and the cookbook follows along. There really are not very many, maybe saffron, as something people don’t have in their cupboard all the time. One of my favorite sandwiches is the Spanish seitan sandwich with saffron garlic aioli. It has grilled seitan, though it doesn’t have to be grilled, and it has strips of roasted red pepper, black olives, and spinach. That is really a dinner sandwich I would say.

Caryn Hartglass: Do you have a link on where to get saffron on your website? Or a place to get it where it’s reasonable because it’s usually like you get two or three little hairs for a fortune.

George Black: Somebody mentioned this to me the other day and I will find that link soon and I will add it to the side bar there. Saffron is expensive and it isn’t used very much in the cookbook but for that sandwich and a couple of other items.

Caryn Hartglass: I know I would use it more if I could find a good, I haven’t looked for, and just looking through your cookbook made me think I have to find a place to get saffron at least in bigger quantities. I just stay away from it because you get so little.

David Stowell: Caryn, you may have to talk to your loan officer if you want to get a large quantity of saffron.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, it’s pricey but it’s because they pick it by hand, individual hairs.

David Stowell: Yeah, it’s all hand harvested and those threads of saffron that you see in the package when you buy it in the store are actually the pistol from the flower. Each flower only produces three or four of those. So you can see the hundreds and hundreds of acres of flowers it would take to get a basket full of saffron.

Caryn Hartglass: Right. But you know in some ways I think it’s important to have some items that are special, that we only have on special occasions. We are such a spoiled nation and we have to look harder for thrills because so many things are not special anymore.

David Stowell: Of course that’s all from the mental perspective from which you’re looking at it. If you were raised in an environment that was much less rich in variety and availability of products, certain things would stand out as super special. Maybe once a year foods for your family and your small town.

Caryn Hartglass: I’m kind of losing you a little bit, the volume is dropping.

David Stowell: I’m sorry about that, is that better?

Caryn Hartglass: Yes, come back! David!

George Black: So another thing I would like to mention is there are recipes that are easy that even your children, young children can make and it would be fun for them too. Also, there are a few complicated recipes that are in the classical style with the techniques that David learned at the Escoffier. So there’s a variety of beginner and advanced techniques in the Veganopolis cookbook.

Caryn Hartglass: I lived in the south of France for 4 years in the early 90’s and I wasn’t vegan back then, but I learned so much about cuisine just by looking and by presentation. To see what was important in how foods were presented, and even though I was looking at a lot of dishes that had animal foods on it, they certainly used many, many, wonderful, fresh vegetables and fruits and herbs and a lot of olive oils and breads were great.

David Stowell: Oh yeah.

George Black: Colors and textures to me, I’m not trained, I don’t have an Escoffier diploma, but I have been interested in food since I was a child, as it says in the book. Experimenting a lot and like you said, I look for that too Caryn. Colors and textures like, I made a potato salad the other day that was inspired by a photograph I saw. It had paprika in it, black olives, a little bit of spinach and dill. It was really just, the colors I was going after, but it turned out really good. And little strips of red pepper so we had a very colorful lunch today.

Caryn Hartglass: OK so you’re obviously a team. David has some of the official French training. Who brings what to the party?

George Black: I have to say that I began, I decided that I wasn’t going to eat animals anymore back in about 1987-88 and I told David, this is the way I’m eating now. If you want to continue on the way with your diet, that’s fine, but this is going to be a permanent change for me. I began experimenting and making my own meals and he followed along 6 months later. David, I believe bring the very good classical skill and presentation and I would say I’m a little bit more the creative, bringing the new recipes and new techniques to the table. I’ve discovered about, I have now taught myself 6 different new ways to use seitan even so far as to go as to over bake my roadhouse burgers that are in the cookbook. I leave a couple in and when you cook baked seitan in the oven you need to have stock in it when you braise it. Well, if you let the stock run out, it puffs up a little bit with air and then when you remove it and slice it, it’s great for marinating because it has little air holes in it.

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah, it’s interesting what you find…

George Black: I’m always interested in that, like I’ll use green tea for the liquid in my baking recipe instead of something else. I’m kind of more of the experimenter but I do look to David for the solid techniques. One of the most important things I think a lot of customers ask, we had a great loyal following and a lot of foodies in Portland and many people would approach David and say, “How do you get the flavors in your soups?” Well you do have to cook your spices first before you add the liquid. That followed through with anything. Say you’re making, you’re taking a simple can of refried beans or pinto beans, and you want them to have a great flavor. Sauté a little bit of onion, put some cumin, some ground oregano, and if you’re going to use pepper or chili powder in with the sautéing of the onions. You’re going to cook those spices, they’re going to release more flavor into the beans when you add the beans and any liquid if you do. You need to cook your spices first.

Caryn Hartglass: It’s those little tips that can make a tremendous amount of difference.

George Black: It really does, especially with soups. That cooked spice is just going to permeate the entire pot. Also, with my refried beans, I add a little smoke flavor. So things like that. So basically David is the skilled, high-class presentation and technique and I think I’m more on the creative side.

David Stowell: Well George, you tend to over-humble yourself. You are a fantastic, fantastic not only chef but baker. George’s baked goods have always been extremely, EXTREMELY popular and again, very creative. We had lavender cookies, we had mint chocolate cookies, we had 6 different kinds of muffins, we had chai apple pie. We had all this stuff just coming out of her head. She’s an amazing, amazing asset in the kitchen. A really, really incredible chef.

George Black: Thank you. We just had our 27th wedding anniversary.

David Stowell: Speaking of anniversaries, we’re really glad you’re here after the 4 years.

Caryn Hartglass: Thank you!

David Stowell: I’m sure all your listeners are glad you’re here too.

Caryn Hartglass: I’ll talk more about it maybe later, and whenever I have the opportunity. I don’t want to talk a lot about it because it’s not necessarily something I like remembering. It was really a horrible experience in so many ways. We have this country of health care and it’s not caring. So many things went wrong, mistakes were made, so many fights with the insurance companies. It was just a nightmare at every turn. What I was fortunate to have was, I was surrounded by loving friends and family and GREAT food.

David Stowell: Once again, we’re glad you are here.

Caryn Hartglass: Well I have a lot more to do so I intend on sticking around for a while.

David Stowell: Excellent.

Caryn Hartglass: There are a lot of things you mentioned and I am scrambling little notes here because I want to bring up some items. The one thing about a cookbook is that it’s really like a snap shot. I think most people who cook, and it sounds like it’s what you do, is that it’s always changing. It’s very dynamic. I find it’s a challenge I’ve been forcing myself lately to write down everything I don’t when I cook. I see what’s inspiring to me, what’s colorful, what’s fresh and then put it together. But a lot of people either are not used to doing that, don’t have the skills. So many people are lost in the kitchen. I’m always saying this. They need cookbooks to inspire and to teach and to show them so that they can finally unleash themselves and go nuts.

George Black: That’s a good word: unleash. It’s true, people have to learn, like with vegans, people don’t want, oh it’s going to be complicated, oh it’s foreign, and I don’t know any of the ingredients. No, it’s actually very simple. It’s actually very clean cooking compared to cooking animals. It’s less expensive and it’s very efficient. You can cross use products without worrying about contamination or flavor, too strong of flavors. It’s a great leftovers diet, that’s for sure. To unleash yourself in going back to your question before: when I began cooking vegan and what you say on the REAL site is that it’s very exciting and fun. Once you get over that it’s some huge change, which it isn’t, you’re still eating food. It’s a very exciting path that it leads you on. It actually stimulates your creativity a great deal. Many friends who are not hooked and not even very skilled in the kitchen have told me the same. They have surpassed me at times with their creativity and skills. It’s really exciting, people are missing out on a thrill ride.

Caryn Hartglass: How proud you can be of yourself when you create something that tastes great.

George Black: Yes. There’s a lot of joy to it.

Caryn Hartglass: We have to eat everyday. So here’s an opportunity to just keep trying and make stuff better.

David Stowell: Absolutely.

Caryn Hartglass: The other thing that I liked about this cookbook is the ingredients for the most part are whole, natural, fresh ingredients. I know there’s a lot of transition foods out there. To some extent that’s a good thing. I know that I’ve dealt quite a bit into them over the years. I’ve been a vegan for along time and I’ve experienced all different kinds of ways to eat plant foods. Now I’m on this really, rigorous, healthy variety of the vegan diet. But, there are a lot of transition meat analogs out there. A lot of them don’t have very healthful ingredients in them. I think they’re better than their meat counterparts, but they are not the ultimate. You don’t have those ingredients in your books. To make a lot of these comfort foods or familiar foods with seitan and with tofu. You show people how to make those foods, it’s great.

George Black: Thank you. Beans are a great, I made a pasta sauce the other night and I had some butter beans left over from a batch of seitan I made. I’d like people to know how easy seitan is to make. An inexpensive, bulk, protein source. So I said, “Hey, I have some pasta sauce leftover that I made yesterday.” I put it in the Cuisinart, I put the butter beans in there and I just blended it up and it turned out like a creamy, almost cheesy might I say, pasta sauce. So things like that, I mean, it’s very simple and once you start seeing how versatile the diet is, you’ll be able to use your ingredients much more efficiently. Your pantry, your inventory.

Caryn Hartglass: You were talking early on how you’re always coming up with new things, mixing colors and whatever. That’s the great thing about all of these foods- the variations are infinite.

George Black: Yes, they are. I was thinking this today, I have some quinoa in a jar in the kitchen and I’m thinking of making some quinoa today. I was tired of the way I was making it; I had some rice vinegar in it. So I also have a package of Cajun spice blend that I made myself. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to cook the quinoa, and I usually use the Cajun spices on potatoes only. But, I’m going to cook the quinoa and boil it, then I’m going to sauté it in some vegetables and the Cajun spices. So take any spice blends that you may have or mixed you have purchased at the store and say, “Lets see, what else can I use this in?” Sit down and really think about it and write a list down. Keep a little notebook in your kitchen and write down your own ideas. At a later time you can go ahead and experiment with those.

Caryn Hartglass: Some of the recipes you have a great slaw in here. I think it had pineapple in it?

George Black: Oh, pineapple in it? Yeah. In the slaw?

Caryn Hartglass: Yeah.

George Black: Yeah.

Caryn Hartglass: Is that the, I haven’t looked at it today but I think I remembered.

George Black: It’s in there, yeah.

Caryn Hartglass: I remember seeing that and we just made a slaw a couple of days ago. Posted it on our Facebook page. It had mango in it! The point is it’s just endless, endless, endless and sometimes things that you wouldn’t even think go together, go so well together. When it’s fruits and vegetables you’re pretty much safe.

George Black: That’s true with the vegan diet; it is widely just so versatile. You can make vanilla pepita muffins with little banana in them. That’d be great. With cinnamon, so yeah once you have your pantry stocked like you said, you can go wild in the vegan kitchen.

Caryn Hartglass: You have an interesting chapter, which is called “Vegan Proteins.” Is this something that’s in your vernacular when you’re talking about vegetarian cuisine that you talk specifically about vegan proteins?

George Black: I guess it’s because it should have been labeled, “The Denser Proteins” because that myth has been…

Caryn Hartglass: I don’t mind that it’s called “Vegan Proteins” I just wondered how you came about using it because I haven’t seen it phrased that way.

George Black: People asked me for years, “You have a good diet with vegetables, but where do you get your protein?” I know you repeat that, you echo that on and it is true. I wish, people should actually just Google protein myth and you’ll find a lot out about protein. Seitan doesn’t, it has a lot of protein building but it’s not pure protein. It isn’t an answer to your complete protein in your meal. It should be taken with other, a starch and a vegetable and vice versa.

Caryn Hartglass: We need proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Those three macronutrients are all essential and then there are the micronutrients. We need so many things and we don’t even know the tip of the iceberg about nutrition.

George Black: But if you just, spread your intake out and don’t narrow it down just to say I had a friend who actually became very emaciated and his immune system dropped because he was swearing into this seaweed, broccoli, and brown rice diet. This was a long time ago. Just like somebody would do an Atkins diet that was just all high protein, animals, eating animals, any to me extreme diet is such where you’re just excluding all these other sources, food sources is going to have a negative effect on your body and your mind.

Caryn Hartglass: Well especially today because with so many people on the planet. I recently heard we’re almost at 7 billion, congratulations.

George Black: WOW

Caryn Hartglass: We’re taking a lot of pull on the Earth and certainly it’s related to population. But I am absolutely convinced we can be doing a lot better job certainly by not growing all the million, billion animals to feed people. And the food that we have to grow to feed them to feed people, etc. But at the most…

David Stowell: Yeah, if I could interject…

George Black: And the waterways being destroyed

David Stowell: The other issue about water in particular that I’d like to bring up is the amount of fresh water it takes to produce meat. For example, 1 pound of meat that you buy in the grocery store means 25,000 gallons of fresh water has been used. From raising the cow, to slaughtering it, to transporting it to market, etc. 25,000 gallons for 1 pound! That’s highly inefficient.

George Black: Versus like 25 gallons to make the same pound of vegetables or something. Look how simple it is to make seitan. You can even save your stock that you’ve used, if you do it stove top, and freeze it and use it for the next batch. Two and one half cups of vital gluten flour makes approximately 5 or a little bit more than 5 pounds of really solid food. You can flavor it, marinate it, use it in soups, use it in salads, use it as a main dish. I’ve breaded it with Cajun spices with quinoa flour or regular flour and Cajun spices and fried it and made strips for my friends who are not vegan. They love it.

Caryn Hartglass: Seitan is not a new-age trendy food.

George Black: No, it’s ancient. Hundreds of years ago developed in China by Buddhists priests and spread to Japan. I’m predicting more and more that I think about it by 2025 most families will be down to possibly 1 animal dinner or meal a week. Are you with me on that?

Caryn Hartglass: Absolutely.

David Stowell: Well here’s some good news, when we began researching for a restaurant in 2004-2005 the standard return on a Google for percentage of population worldwide who call themselves vegetarian or vegan was 2%. Same search today comes back at 3%. That’s 1% more of the global population who are vegetarian or vegan. It doesn’t seem like a lot but if you think of it, 1% above 2%, 3%, it’s a whole, whole lot of people.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s a lot of people and it’s only going to grow exponentially, I really believe that. But back to that friend or person you were mentioning who was eating a very restricted diet. Part of the problem with that is related to all of this because our environment has been degraded and the soil has been depleted and so many nutrients. We really need to try and get a lot of variety in our food just to make sure we are getting all the nutrition that we need.

George Black: That’s true

Caryn Hartglass: Vegetables don’t have this much as nature originally intended with nurtured and rich soil.

George Black: That’s true

Caryn Hartglass: Oh dear, dear, dear.

George Black: I think more people should go to I have the recipe for seitan on there, simple seitan, it’s so brief. Because it is so brief, there are 3 photographs of the technique and about 4 sentences and you can make an entire pot of seitan to enjoy for a whole week or more.

Caryn Hartglass: OK I just had a few more questions, one was you’re not doing the restaurant anymore and you’re not in Oregon anymore, you’re in Chicago?

George Black: We moved out to Portland in 2000. We had a very successful personal chef and catering service here that was vegan. For 10 years through the 90’s and our client’s children were growing up, they were needing us less. One of them moved to Paris. We decided we were going to uproot and move to Portland. A lot of reasons why and we moved out there, we got the food cart and the business plan had been around and the model for the vegan restaurant that was our dream was around for many years and we decided to put it into action. We had the cart for 2 years and then we opened the restaurant and then we decided to come back to Chicago with some encouragement from some partners and ended up here, so that’s what we’re going to do. We were a little bit slowed down; we had been working on some other projects and the cookbook, the second cookbook. We had been on pause also through the economic situation, but it’s ready to blast off, it’s ready to blast off.

Caryn Hartglass: Well, Portland is definitely very hip place. A pretty plugged-in place where people are aware of organic and fair trade and vegetarian foods more than other parts of the country. I can imagine there was a good community for your food there. Chicago is exploding and the entrepreneurs that are their creating new vegan foods is crazy.

George Black: What’s interesting is after the gym; I ride down often to Raw. It’s a raw stand in the train station down town that is just delicious. There’s two of the best vegan raw chefs I’ve ever tasted the food. It’s a food cart and there’s like a crepe and a pasta stand and all the people standing in line at the raw counter are males in their late 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. It’s interesting that men are really getting on board with the vegan and healthy food. They are really maintaining their diet well. I’ve also seen that in other establishments too.

Caryn Hartglass: Well somebody must have leaked out that you don’t have to become impotent after 40. Something like 50% of men loose that whatever it is after 40 and that’s why Viagra and all these other pharmaceuticals are blasting.

David Stowell: Well that’s related to the onset of hardening of arteries. Some of the first arteries that harden up in a person who eats a lot of fat, animal fat in particular, are the arteries that go to that part of your body. So that’s it, it’s right there; it’s clear as day. Unfortunately that hardening of the arteries is the number 1 killer in the United States. It’s really a very serious problem.

Caryn Hartglass: My motivation for getting into this whole plant based food scene was for the animals. I got this idea when I was a teenager, I had the lights show for me that oh my god I’m eating animals and I don’t want to. Period. Then over the years I learned a lot, and we all learned together because we had all been as a society kind of brain washed in one way to think that meat and dairy was a necessity. We are still focused on those foods. But, then I came to learn that it was also the healthiest way to eat and great for the environment. I’m at a point where I don’t care what it takes to give people the message to eat plan foods. It’s so they can have a vigorous sex life into their hundreds, that’d be great.

David Stowell: That’s great, that’s great.

George Black: Whatever it takes.

Caryn Hartglass: Whatever it takes.

David Stowell: Well that’s a pretty positive motivating idea, I think. That’s a fantastic idea.

George Black: Well I hope people are going to make seitan and other things, really that’s very approachable and sounds really scary. I even have vegan friends like, “How do you make seitan, the mystery ingredient?” When I show them they’re like, “Oh my gosh I could have been making this years ago, look at how much it makes, and you can flavor it any way.” Helping people with obesity and all the other issues. And people taking so much medication these days, it’s coming around slowly but I think parents especially need to take a look at what they’re feeding their kids, their children too. At least try to offer more vegan choices and vegan meals at home.

Caryn Hartglass: You know there are so many excuses for why they don’t do that. One of the things I want to do with Responsible Eating and Living is to show what some clever media, commercial style type videos, things that make it easier for people to understand some of the problems in a typical lifestyle today. People have brought up how much time does it take to go to the fast food restaurant to feed your family? Then that amount of time, just using the Veganopolis cookbook as an example, you can make a great meal, at home!

George Black: Make it a family project, a family event.

David Stowell: And save money! Those fast food restaurants are incredibly expensive.

George Black: I noticed you had Mr. Howell on last week from Hillside Quickies Vegan Sandwich Shop and we shared a lot of customers at Veganopolis. Little Richard had us up on stage, we’ve had The Kills, Jack White, we shared a lot of those customers and it was great fun. It was interesting to hear when I had time and if they were interested in chatting with me, to hear their stories on why they switched to an animal free diet and what is the most exciting thing about it. Maybe you could add that to the site.

Caryn Hartglass: That’s interesting. Do you remember some stories?

George Black: Animal issues, a lot. Spiritual issues, lovers that they had that wouldn’t kiss them unless they were vegan. I heard that a lot at our restaurant, I would never date a non-vegan, I couldn’t kiss them!

David Stowell: That interesting idea of cross contamination. I’m not kissing that mouth that just ate that steak, sorry, sorry.

Caryn Hartglass: It’s just so infinite what we can do and what we can roll on how this world and this life could be so much better just by eating plant foods. There are just so many reasons, for families, for children, for…

David Stowell: And as you mentioned at the very beginning, for the animals. Both George and I, before we even became professional in the cooking world were animal people. This is where all of this started for us, just the love of animals and acknowledging them as co-inhabitants of this planet.

George Black: Speaking of families, I don’t know how many times we had people visit us from all over the globe, but families came and children from 5 years old, up to 16, up to 18, that were in competitive sports saying, “We’ve been vegan since before we were born.” That’s really more common than people realize. It’s not dangerous to feed children a vegan diet. They were more self directed children from what observed, and happier.

Caryn Hartglass: You know we’ve been talking all this time and I normally take a break at half way through and we haven’t taken a break and we need to! So I wanted to take a break. You’re welcome to stay with me if you want to continue talking through the rest of the show and that would be great, and we’ll be right back!

George Black: Thank you,

David Stowell: Thanks.

Caryn Hartglass: Hello, I’m Caryn Hartglass and you are listening to It’s All About Food and I am talking with the Veganopolis cookbook team; David Stowell and George Black.

George Black: Hello.

Caryn Hartglass: Hello.

David Stowell: Hi.

Caryn Hartglass: Now you know I did mention this before but in your title tag it’s called a manual for great vegan cooking and I like that; a manual.

George Black: We kept trying to think of it in the kitchen. This is sort of ridiculous because people would come and we had a lot of applicants there who wanted to work in the kitchen and they go where is the book; the manual, then I’d go what manual? We never wrote down any of the recipes. We had a great kitchen staff by the way, they actually improved on some of our recipes but we never wrote anything down, so that’s why we had to spend a year compiling the recipes for the cookbook, actually writing them down.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes, it is time consuming writing and testing.

George Black: The manual to be quite honest, we borrowed that from; if you go to, on the side bar there is a link to ancient vegan cookbooks all going all the way back to the 1600’s.

Caryn Hartglass: No!

George Black: Yes! It’s a fascinating read. I think Google books unloaded them up but it’s a compiled list on that link and there’s one by a man named George Black from the U.K.

Caryn Hartglass: Wow!

George Black: …and he recorded the recipes if his maid and cook way back in the 1800’s. In the early 1800’s all his friends just loved to come and eat her meals when he had guests over for dinner but she never had the recipes written down. Finally he got her to tell him the recipes because she couldn’t write, she was fairly illiterate and he wrote them down and presented the cookbook and it was called A Manual for Vegetarian Cookery. It’s true his name was George Black. I’m named after the French female writer George Sande but his name was George Black so I have that up on the blog

David Stowell: The predecessor George Black was a doctor from Scotland from Edinburgh and in those days they called it not so much a vegetarian diet but they called it a bloodless diet and the idea was that eating blood was dangerous.

Caryn Hartglass: Oh! Interesting bloodless diet, I have not heard that, that’s fascinating

George Black: I’ve taken some of the recipes from a variety of those books and turned them if they weren’t vegan I turned them vegan and tried them out.

David Stowell: There was an incredible artichoke soup in that book, which is great.

Caryn Hartglass: So the link to all of that is at your website?

David Stowell: Yes.

George Black: Yes! If you go to the side bar it’s below the sock monkey wishing shrine.

The sock monkey wishing shrine was a big feature at veganopolis sometimes I think people came from other cities just to see him and make a wish and not really came; their first priority wasn’t to dine with us.

Caryn Hartglass: Okay, well whatever gets them in the door.

David Stowell: That’s it!

Caryn Hartglass: I just wanted to get back to seitan because I think it’s really important. It really helped me introduce vegan foods to a lot of people because it’s a great meat substitute and it’s a great protein and has a nice texture and a great chew and you can flavor it with so many things and you can cook it so many different ways. It’s a great thing. Here’s the big caveat. More and more people today are finding they have problems with gluten and wheat. I don’t know if this was intentional or not but there are a lot of recipes that don’t require wheat; in your cookbook you have substitutions for seitan using tofu. Was that intentional?

David Stowell: We always try to offer a wide range of the higher protein vegetables in the restaurant so our customers wouldn’t wind up eating tofu everyday or beans. We wanted to always stretch it out through the entire range of options because I think that’s just wise for the diet.

George Brown: But we did have about 5-10% in all and growing requesting gluten –free and we had a lot of options.

Caryn Hartglass: It’s growing.

George Brown: I myself sometimes don’t want; I don’t have gluten intolerance but I eat about half my meals without bread or gluten of any kind.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes, I think part of the problem too is not just that we have over-hybridized our wheat here, but wheat is in so many different foods whether we realize it or not. People do rely on a lot of bread products. We are just overdoing wheat, wheat, wheat, wheat, wheat, wheat.

David Stowell: I think you’ve got a point there.

George Brown: Working in restaurants since I was 14, I know there has been a lot of awareness about allergies but why has this come it’s such a huge; you know there is a growing number of people that have wheat intolerances, to me I’m not a scientist but it is a little bit suspect, possibly with the grain like you said possibly hybridization of it.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes, something happened.

David Stowell: Well not only hybridization but genetic manipulation and the people who are critics who are critics of genetically modified organisms on the table all sat when this issue began that their concern was allergic reactions because of the way the genetic manipulation was done. The people who are deep into this science said well what about allergies, what about allergies I think that’s what’s happening although I can’t prove it I’m not a scientist.

Caryn Hartglass: Sure, another thing we don’t know but I think will come into play is the impact on these altered foods over generations whereas one generation consuming some of these foods may not notice a problem or a significant problem but then the next generation.

George Brown: Right! Yes!

Caryn Hartglass: So maybe that’s why we are seeing more celiac disease because it’s taken; okay wheat has been in the world for some 10,000 years which is supposed to be not very long and maybe it has taken that amount of time for the body to decide, “well I don’t like this.”

George Black: I don’t know.

David Stowell: Yes, there are so many different ways of looking at it. The highest incidence of celiac disease is in two countries Italy and Ireland; it’s so bad in Italy that every Italian baby born is tested for celiac disease when they are born.

Caryn Hartglass: That is just staggering

David Stowell: That’s some kind of relationship between genetics and diet.

Caryn Hartglass: They’ve been eating pasta for a long time.

David Stowell: Well, that’s what I’m thinking, it seems like a silly and obvious thing, well they eat too much pasta but indeed there is that all of that pasta everyday along with the bread, that’s like a double starch whammy, I mean that’s why I think I love Italian food so much because I get that starch comatose feeling.

Caryn Hartglass: That comfort feeling.

George Black: Well, replacement for starch is easily with potatoes we used to offer roasted potatoes every day and we were very conscious on the buffet items so that people had wheat-free or gluten-free options, if you notice we do use spelt flour a lot.

Caryn Hartglass: I was going to say you use garbanzo flour in some of your products.

George Black: Yea, I love garbanzo flour. When I make my V8 juice buns; when I make burger buns the liquid I use is V8 juice instead of water, they turn out real nice. I actually use half V8 juice and half water. I put a little bit of garbanzo bean flour, a couple of tablespoons per 3 cups of flour. It adds a really nice flavor. That’s another way, we were talking about experimenting and cross your pantry with things, keep those things in mind and it’s fun! Spelt flour is good for people who are wheat-intolerant but not gluten-intolerant. The reason why – I don’t have wheat intolerance as I said but I love the flavor of spelt flour and that’s why we use it. There is spelt pasta but now I am into kelp noodles. Kelp noodles are my newest thing in place of pasta noodles and either the link for those on too you can get them from sea tangle noodle company and they are just delicious. ( I told my sister that there is no seaweed flavor, no fish flavor. They are like rice noodles but more sophisticated as they have a slight crunch to them and you don’t even have to cook them. You take them right out of the bag rinse them. I tried cooking them for 10 min one time and it didn’t change them one bit.

Caryn Hartglass: And it’s just kelp?

George Black: Yes

David Stowell: It’s derived from kelp, but you are getting all the minerals

George Black: is where you can purchase them, but Whole Foods hasn’t even caught up on selling these yet or other stores. I have to order by the case online and they are not really very expensive either so that’s a great option. If people are listening right now that is gluten intolerant, I’d say go to and look at the recipes and see if that’s something you like.

Caryn Hartglass: Yes, more places are offering gluten-free pastas, rice based pastas but it’s crazy if you go into ethnic markets or non-conventional markets what you can find and you can make noodles out of anything!

George Black: Yeah, that’s true. What about zucchini? The lady that is a raw chef I saw a YouTube video the other day; raw zucchini noodles. Of course, I have one of those spiralizers.

Caryn Hartglass: Well you know what; I think we can talk about food all day. I think you are I am and love it and it just is so interesting for hours and hours but we’re out of time.

George Black: It was such a pleasure and such fun talking to you. Thank you for having us!

Caryn Hartglass: It was fun! I hope I get to meet you sometime and we can share some bread.

David Stowell: Thank you so much for having us Caryn!

George Black: Oh that would be great!

George Black: Congratulations today!

Caryn Hartglass: Thank you! Yea me!

Caryn Hartglass: Ok, so George and David thank you! Visit I’m Caryn Hartglass you’ve been listening to It’s All About Food. Have a delicious week! Bye!

Transcribed by M. Eng, 1/23/2017

  1 comment for “George Black & David Stowell, Veganopolis

  1. I have been looking to touch base with an old friend from
    Highland park IL. He is an amazing musician and artist. He also has the same name as you.

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