Vegan Activist Spotlight: An Interview with Vegan Chef Rain TruthLeolin Bowen
I met Chef Rain Truth for the first time in 2013, when we both joined the planning committee for the Chicago Veggie Pride Parade. She walked up to me, said hi as though we were longtime friends, and offered me a cookie. Since I am someone who can easily be bought with any sort of vegan dessert, she immediately won me over and I am glad she did!
Rain Truth is a vegan chef, caterer, educator, proud mother of three vegan children, and soon-to-be published author. She has based her career on showing people how to use the power of plant-based eating as a way to heal our bodies, our communities, our self-esteem, and our families. I chatted with her recently to find out more about her journey, being a vegan chef, and why she thinks it’s important for children to learn about cooking.
How did you become a vegan?
I always had a connection to animals, ever since I was a child. I even had a “pet” squirrel whom I would feed potato chips (yes, I know, not the best diet). One night, at the age of six, my mom gave me a chicken drumstick for dinner. As I held this leg in my hand I remember feeling disgusted, and when I pulled off the meat and saw the veins, I screamed! I thought to myself: this animal has veins, and so do I! This was the most significant turning point for me.
I always loved to cook and figure out how to prepare different things. My mom worked a lot, so I would create different veggie meals for myself. My parents weren’t vegan or vegetarian, but my dad was a master gardener. He loved farming, so I always had access to fresh fruit and veggies. My family thought the “vegan thing” was just a phase. But when I had my children and began to raise them vegan, people finally understood that my vegan “phase” was the real thing.
Tell me about your journey to become a chef.
One of the last classes of my senior year in high school was home economics. This class gave me the confidence to create my own food, which is something that I wanted to do. I started my first catering business when I was 16 and at the age of 21, I started culinary school and set out to become a famous chef. During school, I had dreams of opening a restaurant, but after learning the turnover rate of the restaurant industry it just didn’t appeal to me anymore. I went into the hospitality industry, where I worked in resorts, restaurants, and hotels. After several years, I took a break and felt that I was missing my calling.
In 2012, my father was diagnosed with glioblastoma, which is a form of brain cancer, and that pushed me to get back into cooking. I felt that I was holding on to knowledge which could help people, about food as medicine, and I wanted to share it. Once I put myself back out there, my catering business started booming!
What are people’s biggest misconceptions of vegan cooking?
That it’s bland, and that all we eat are berries, nuts, and seeds. Food can taste good without animals being harmed. Remember, you are seasoning that meat with herbs and veggies, not with more meat. Cook meat with no seasoning and tell me how you like the taste!
Some people still ask me if vegans eat turkey. They really need to open their minds to researching and understanding what veganism means. This type of question shows how programmed our minds are. People don’t even understand what they are eating.
You are raising 3 kids while running a booming vegan empire. How do you do it?
My business is a family business. For example, my 15-year-old son works with me and is very helpful. I am also able to incorporate my almost 2-year-old daughter into my events, which are family-friendly in general. Vegans tend to be open minded and my clients are down to earth.
Why do you think it’s important that children learn about cooking?
Children today can be dealing with so many things at home that no one knows about. Some are not sure where their next meal is coming from or may be helping to raise their siblings. Home economics classes used to be offered in schools, teaching children how to cook and take care of their home. Art and gym classes are being cut out of schools around the country. Now children have all of this energy bottled up with no positive way to release it. Learning to cook gives them something they can be proud of. Both of my older children know how to cook and they are so proud of that fact. The babies are who we need to nurture.
What is next in store for you?
I am excited about having my first inaugural Midwest Vegan Fest this year in Milwaukee on April 14, 2018!!! I also have several other amazing projects in the works, so you have to stay tuned.