Olivia Biermann, author of Liv B’s Vegan on a Budget, is the creator of Liv B, the cooking channel for people who want to make delicious vegan food but don’t want to spend a ton of time or money doing it! A true one-woman show, Olivia does everything from coming up with the recipes, to filming and also being on camera herself.

With video tutorials that show step-by-step recipes ranging from breakfast to dessert, there is a recipe for everyone in her audience–vegan or not. Olivia hopes to show people that vegan food doesn’t need to be boring, flavourless or “too healthy”.

We caught up with her this week to find out what advice she has to anyone who says, “I CAN’T COOK,” her favourite time to be in the kitchen, and the last thing she ate.

SDTC: Why and when did you decide to become a vegan?

OB: Back in university, in my first year I developed some digestive issues. I discovered I was lactose-intolerant and also had a hard time with red meat, so I cut out dairy and meat. I felt a lot better, and gradually over about two years I slowly transitioned to being fully vegan. It was a combination of health and ethical reasons, and the more I researched, the more certain I was that being vegan was the right choice for me.

Of all the delicious recipes in this book, what’s the one you make the most? 

I wish I could say it’s one of the salads, but honestly it is the Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. They’re my go-to for celebrating, sad days, potlucks, family gatherings, or Sunday afternoon baking.

What’s your go-to mid-afternoon pick-me-up snack?

I love salsa and tortilla chips, or if I want something sweet, blueberries and coconut yogurt!

Right now, there seems to be a lot of hype about veganism, but also controversy. What’s the most annoying question you repeatedly get asked? Or maybe a stereotype you deal with often?

Something I find myself conversing about a lot with strangers or people who don’t know a lot about veganism is all the reasons why humans aren’t “meant” to be vegan. People like to assume that there is a perfect diet for humans (whether it is “what our ancestors ate” or “what science points to”) but the reality is that diet isn’t a one-size fits all. What works for someone isn’t going to work for everyone. I am a big proponent of finding what works for you health-wise and morally.

photo credit: Brilynn Ferguson

Who inspires your cooking?

My family actually inspired me a ton with the cookbook. I went back to family favourites like carrot cake, peach cobbler, tacos and pancakes, and I veganized them! I also get inspired by restaurants while I travel. Whenever I return home from a trip, I have so many new ideas and dishes I want to try to recreate.

Help us with a visual: what/when/how is your favourite time to cook? When you first wake up/for a dinner party/while listening to music.

My favourite cooking scenario is in my own kitchen, with a fridge full of fresh groceries, music on, glass of wine in hand. When I have a whole evening free to create a beautiful meal to share with family and friends.

What do you want to say to the woman who says, “I CAN’T COOK”?

You can. I promise. No matter what your experience and comfort level is, there is a recipe for you! I made some seriously inedible things while teaching myself how to cook vegan food, but the only possible way to improve is by cooking more. So get in there and get your hands dirty! I promise you can only go up from here.

What’s the one-dish or salad that will really nourish us, and is easy to whip up on a busy weeknight?

Lentil chili! You basically throw the ingredients into a pot and in no time you have a hearty, nourishing dinner that also makes great leftovers for lunches or meals later in the week. It’s one of my favourites in the winter months.

What’s been the biggest discovery since you launched your YouTube channel? 

That I love helping people discover how easy and delicious vegan food can be. Anytime I get a message that says, “I made your ______ recipe for my non-vegan family, and it was so easy to make and everyone LOVED it! It’s now on our regular meal rotation!” it makes me so happy. I remember when I had those “aha!” moments and how good it feels to make something that is aligned with your values AND tastes amazing.

What was the last thing you ate? 

A crispy potato burger with homemade tartar sauce- some things I was recipe testing for future videos!

Olivia resides in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Liv B’s Vegan on a Budget is her first book and is available where books are sold.