In his forthcoming Mississippi Vegan cookbook, Timothy Pakron reconciles Southern traditions and flavors with a vegan lifestyle.
Did you know the Bantu word gumbo means “okra”? And “hoppin’ John” refers to peas and rice?
As a Mississippi Gulf Coast native, with parents hailing from New Orleans, I grew up swimming in bayous, making mud pies, and feasting on pralines and poboys. But it was leaving Mississippi for other places—the most recent being New York City—that birthed my food identity, the Mississippi Vegan. Over the past two and a half years, I’ve grown an online following with vegan variations of the Southern recipes I grew up eating, dishes I’ve realized are already celebrations of plant- and mushroom-based ingredients. Eliminate the traditional animal products, and you’ll find powerful combinations that handily recreate the depth of flavor Southerners have grown to love.
Cooking and food blogging, for me, have not only been a creative outlet as a trained artist but also an extension of my heart and past experiences. I was, and still am, profoundly impacted by my roots and the scenery of my youth; so when I landed an opportunity from a major publisher to turn my blog into a cookbook, I knew the perfect setting to do that work … I came home to Mississippi.
The recipes I’m planning for my book are more than lists of ingredients and steps for preparation. Each one of them is a story: a story about the plant and mushroom kingdoms, the South and its traditions, and the surprisingly easy reconciliations I’ve made between the two as a vegan.
The recipe following will give you an idea of how I make festive dishes that are complex in flavor and texture. You certainly can use the traditional ingredients if you’d like; my job is merely to show you that there are other options in creating dishes than only using traditional ingredients. (If you are interested in the vegan lifestyle, I’ve found it most respectful to direct you to the vast resources on the Internet.)
Cooking and food blogging, for me, have not only been a creative outlet as a trained artist but also an extension of my heart and past experiences
Aside from trying something new in the kitchen, cooking vegan recipes helps you cater to a broader range of intolerances and allergies. For example, my vegan red beans and rice and my strawberry shortcake bars are dairy free, cholesterol free, and egg free. (The Mississippi Vegan Red Beans are gluten free and nut free as well.) These recipes also embrace sustainable ingredients that are good for you and the planet too. Most importantly, they are just plain delicious.
Find more recipes at mississippivegan.com. Follow along on Instagram (@mississippivegan) for daily photographs as Pakron works on his book over the next year in Mississippi. And be on the lookout for Mississippi Vegan, due out from Avery - Penguin Random House in fall 2018.