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Lions Roar : March 2015
As a Buddhist, how do you bring your practice into the kitchen? Before I engage in food preparation, I check to make sure I’m grounded and, if I’m not, I think about what I need to do to recalibrate, whether it’s taking a walk or doing a quick sit. The cooking process—from caramelizing onions to washing greens—is a meditation. I won’t pretend that every single time I cook it’s that perfect, but I strive for that. You’ve written several vegan cookbooks, including Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean & Southern Flavors Remixed. Do you think the term “vegan” puts people off? I know the term “vegan” puts a lot of people off [laughter]. There’s the mis- conception that a vegan diet is about denying ourselves of something. So I want to help people think about the diversity of foods available to us when we shift toward a plant-centered diet. When we eat food that’s local, seasonal, and sustainably grown, it’s more flavorful than industrial food. What makes someone a good cook? Being a good cook is about having mind- ful, beautiful energy. I’ve been in places where technically the preparation of a meal hasn’t been perfect but because of the love brought to the kitchen, it was delicious and nourishing. Does eating lend itself to mindfulness? When we’re taking a bite of an apple, we’re taking a bite of soil, water, sun. The whole cosmos is in that apple, so our food helps us understand interconnection. How do you determine your effectiveness as a food activist? I do the work with the faith that it will have an impact, that it will shift people’s attitudes. But how many people and in what ways? I may never know. I don’t want to get caught up in numbers. Even if I have a positive impact on one person then that’s huge. The catalyst that got me thinking about food issues was hearing the hip-hop song “Beef ” by Boogie Down Productions when I was in high school. It talked about factory farming and the negative impact that our consumption patterns have on animals, the environment, and human health. That song shifted my trajectory. What’s your favorite vegetable? Depends on the season. Right now, bok choy. It’s so quick to chop it up, then blanch it or sauté it with garlic and olive oil. Q&A Love Makes Food Delicious CHEF BRYANT TERRY ON BUDDHISM AND BOK CHOY PHOTOBYPAIGEGREEN Terry credits “Beef ” by Boogie Down Productions for putting him on the path to food activism. “That song shifted my trajectory.” SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2015 15 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE