When she’s not interviewing celebrities for MTV Canada, Much Music and eTalk, Lauren Toyota is in the kitchen, literally “cooking up vegan love”. She started her blog, hot for food, in 2009 when she began to transition into being a full-time vegan and wanted to share her journey, and some seriously delicious recipes, along the way. (We recommend trying her vegan buffalo wings, they are no joke.) A few years later she sat next to John Diemer on a cross-country tour bus and found her foodie equal. The adorable couple has been blogging together ever since. We had to find out more so we quizzed both of them on their story.
TELL US ABOUT HOT FOR FOOD. I started hot for food blog in late 2009 when I started to transition into veganism. I was getting really into eating this way and I had a lot of time to cook, test recipes, and take photos. Blogging was a good motivation to stick with veganism and share my story, recipe ideas, and even the struggles at the beginning. The blog didn’t get serious though until I met John. It was amazing to have someone around who was as in love with food as I am! It only made sense for us to go on this journey together, share our travels with people, and spread more vegan love.
ANY TIPS YOU CAN GIVE FOR SOMEONE WHO WANTS TO GO VEGAN? If you’re interested definitely try it one meal at a time. Then go for a week, maybe even two. You will notice a huge difference in the way you feel in only one to two weeks. And I urge you to try some of the vegan products on the market right now, especially those from Daiya, Gardein, Sol Cuisine, and Earth Balance. Things have come a long way and I promise that you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything.
YOU TRAVEL TO TRY OUT VEGAN RESTAURANTS ACROSS NORTH AMERICA. WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE SO FAR? The best meals we’ve eaten on a trip have been in Las Vegas. It’s also the city that surprised us the most with being so vegan friendly. I never would have thought I could eat whatever I wanted in a city like that, but they have everything! The Wynn Hotel on the strip has 14 to 16 restaurants all of which have their own custom vegan menus. We ate like kings while we were there.
HAVE YOU INTERVIEWED ANY VEGAN CELEBRITIES? Unfortunately I have yet to bond with any vegan celebrities. Kermit The Frog might be the closest I’ve come though, since he’s against eating pigs! But I hope I can meet some true vegan ambassadors one day soon. I would love to meet Ellen DeGeneres or even this high profile vegan chef, Tal Ronnen. But out of all the celebs I’ve met my favorite interviews were with Regis Philbin, Will Ferrell, Lady Gaga, Kendrick Lamar, and One Direction.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE VEGAN MEAL?
I am a sucker for some vegan “chicken”. My fave meal is the southern combo from The Hogtown Vegan in Toronto. It’s fried vegan chicken with sides of sautéed collard greens and vegan mac and cheese.
TELL US ABOUT HOW YOU MET. Lauren and I met on set while filming the Much VJ Search last year. She was hosting and I was hired as a freelance sound mixer. It was a cross-country bus tour with stops in all major cities along the way. We sat together everyday on the bus and used the 12-hour bus rides to get to know one another; it was the longest first date ever!
HOW DID YOU MAKE THE SWITCH TO BEING VEGAN? I would like to say that I quit meat and dairy cold turkey but I feel like that’s a bad euphemism for a vegan to use! But actually it was a very fast transition and both my love for Lauren and food made it a really exciting time for me. I would spend most of my nights trying to cook up veganized versions of my favourite dishes for Lauren to try. If anyone is having trouble making the switch, just do what I did and fall in love with a vegan.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE VEGAN MEAL? If I know Lauren she’s probably going to say the southern combo from The Hogtown Vegan which is a close second next to Lauren’s famous mac and cheese. It’s the perfect combo of creamy, rich and tasty!