The Never On Sunday Vegan!

Real Food, Mostly Plants, with a Little Wiggle Room!

Welcome to The Never on Sunday Vegan and to my manifesto and reason for creating this club.

We live in crazy dietary times. In my experience as a cook and cooking teacher, I never cease to be amazed by two things: how extreme has the neurosis about food and eating become and how little most people actually know about cooking and eating well.

Having a little wiggle room is so important for so many different reasons. Keeping a balance in our diet is the key to eating wisely and living well. Wiggle room let’s us cook and eat without stressing about the occasional cheat! And not stressing out about food is the best way to establish and maintain healthy eating habits and good cooking practices.

This manifesto was born in the summer of 2021 on Ikaria, the Blue-Zone Greek island where people forget to die, as the venerable New York Times wrote a few years ago, and where I run a cooking school and have family roots. I had two guests from Montana who stood in bewilderment by the kitchen counter on the third day or so of the class, confessing that they not only ate meat three times a day back home but also never imagined that plant-based  cooking, which is mostly – but not all – of what we do during our week together on the island, could be so satisfying and varied.

It was a eureka moment for me. What I take naturally to be the “right” way to cook and eat, almost all plant-based with occasional (totally guilt-free) meals that include some meat, fish or dairy, was to them an absolute revelation.

By now, maybe you’ve figured out that I am not a vegan. I do eat a mostly vegan diet of real food based on vegetables, greens and beans, great olive oil, herbs, spices, whole grains, crunchy sea salt and all the other gifts of the earth we happen to be blessed with in the Mediterranean but that can also be easily replicated anywhere. But I also do love cheese and honey (I am Greek, how can I not?) and a great piece of fish, and, yes, unapologetically, on occasion, even, horror of horrors, a great steak or succulent piece of roasted garlicky lamb!

This recipe club is about how to be good to your body without being mean to your mind!

That’s where the Never on Sunday part of this comes into play. And the imperative to relax. And the assumption that even vegans need a day off! And my own background as a Greek-Mediterranean cook, steeped in the deep traditions of plant-based cuisine that evolved over centuries. Greeks are, indeed, almost vegan, but they’d never call themselves that. The array of plant-based (main course) dishes in the Greek diet is unsurpassed anywhere else in the Mediterranean and evolved because poverty forbade anything resembling a frequent indulgence in animal products, but so did religion; many Greeks still fast for half the year, as the religious calendar dictates.

On a personal level, my DNA as a daughter of Ikaria blessed me with a naturally relaxed attitude toward most things in life, especially, though, about food. Indeed “relax” is the key word in this whole manifesto. Food equals pleasure and cooking is the vehicle for delivering that.

With this recipe club and in this manifesto, I am also reacting to the extremes, divisiveness and fear that we have allowed – yes, that’s our choice--to pervade every part of our modern lives. Food is about nourishment of body, mind and spirit. It’s about pleasure and giving and is not a source of stress or guilt unless we make it that.

The Never on Sunday Vegan is really just a loose and loving roadmap for how to make and enjoy food that happens to be almost all plant-based and always natural, but with wiggle room, for a little indulgence to satisfy our inner…Montanans!

Thanks for joining!

Diane Signature