When I first saw Danielle's page, I was floored! Her page is full of vegan comfort food goodness, cheesy creations, and tons of other beautiful photos of her incredible vegan meals. Not only is her feed beautiful but her IG stories show case some of her recipes and how she creates the bomb food she shares with us. I'm so excited to do this interview! If you are not following her page, check her out at @TheRealVeganMayo!
One thing I always love to know is how people come up with their Instagram handle! What made you choose "TheRealVeganMayo"?
I actually wrote out several different options but I felt this one was the most clever since Mayo is my last name!
So as you know, I'm completely obsessed with your page! How long have you been vegan and why did you decide to become vegan?
First off, thank you!! I'm obsessed with yours as well!! I have been vegan for roughly a year and a half. I visited a childhood friend and her wife who went vegan years ago and we had vegan food all weekend and I really enjoyed it and loved everything.
I decided to try cutting out meat when I got back home and never had meat again. I was vegetarian for a year and a half and I began watching documentaries and educating myself on what veganism was because I really didn't have a clue to be honest.
Once the truth was exposed and I made the connection between how my food ended up on my plate, that was it. I could no longer knowingly contribute to animals suffering and dying for the sake of my taste for a meal.
You obviously love to cook. Have you always enjoyed cooking? How did you learn how to cook?
Yes! I used to cook with my gramma when I was very young. I learned things from my parents as I was growing up and when I went off to college I enjoyed experimenting but didn't do as much home cooking as I do now because nursing school was very intense and time-consuming and I also played college soccer while in nursing school. When I moved back home to Texas, that is really when I started to experiment in the kitchen and get comfortable with trying things I hadn't tried before.
Are you the only vegan in your family? If so, are they supportive of your choices?
Yes, I am the only vegan in my family. My family is very supportive of me being vegan and at first they didn't understand what I could and couldn't have but after explaining it to them they have learned more about it and will offer to make me veggies when I come over for dinner and I'll usually make a few other things for myself.
Personally I don't know anyone outside of Instagram that is vegan, are any of your friends offline vegan?
I know very few offline friends that are vegan. I've recently met up with some Instagram friends in real life that are vegan which is amazing and I'm super thankful to connect with other vegans!
I'm so curious about your cheese sauce! So many people have tried it and seem to love it! How did you come up with the recipe? Let us know where we can find it!
It was definitely an experimentation/trial and error type of thing. A few things I get on the first try because I like to make things that are simple and accessible so my followers are able to make it themselves, but the cheese sauce took me some time to create.
Getting my Vitamix is what really helped this recipe come together and I waited until I got it to begin experimenting making vegan cheese sauce. I did some research on the best thickener for sauces and experimented with tapioca flour and thankfully it really helped tie it all together! My cheese sauce recipe can be found on my Instagram page in my highlighted stories! It has a cheese emoji and then the word sauce.
You have some of the most legendary sandwiches I have ever seen! Which one seems to be the favorite among your followers?
You are too kind!! Sandwiches give me life. My followers really seem to love grilled cheese/loaded grilled cheeses. The buffalo cauliflower grilled cheese has been a big hit and then any regular grilled cheese always seems to be highly favored as well...I mean who doesn't love a vegan grilled cheese?!
What is your favorite vegan meal to make?
That's a tough question! I'm honestly a huge comfort food person (as my followers know very well!) and I'd say one of my favorites is loaded vegan nachos.
What's the easiest recipe you would recommend to someone who isn't vegan, but is curious about becoming plant based?
Easiest recipe would be whatever their favorite veggies are and possibly a fake meat if they may be having trouble letting go of meat. It's hard when you've grown up eating meat your entire life and you've been eating it without a second thought because that is what we are taught.
Gardein has AMAZING meat replacements as well as Beyond Meat. But specifically, I'd recommend maybe some Gardein chickn strips with your favorite seasonings, mashed potatoes with Earth Balance vegan butter, veggies of choice, and maybe a side salad with some Follow Your Heart ranch (can be purchased at Whole Foods). Start simple and go from there!
I see you live in Texas, are vegan options pretty accessible out there? Are there a lot of vegan restaurants?
Very much so. Austin, TX has a lot more than Dallas but Dallas is getting it together and offering more and more, and more places are coming up that are vegan and it's really amazing to see.
There are a good amount of vegan restaurants in Dallas and I hope it continues to grow. More places are starting to offer vegan menus or vegan options which is amazing.
What advice can you give to people that are looking to transition to a plant-based lifestyle?
Slowly transition because I think you will have a more successful transition this way that will allow you to see how amazing veganism is and it will also allow you to make a list of reasons as to why you're doing this and stick to it.
If you cut everything out at once and you don't really know of the alternatives you like yet or what is even available (I had no idea when I first started out), you may decide right away that being vegan isn't for you and give up. It can be overwhelming when you first start to transition and it is important to do research and learn through other vegans.
Don't allow pushy vegans to force you to transition faster or stop eating this or that. We are all on our own personal journey and what works for some may not work for others. Be realistic with yourself and set achievable goals to fully make the transition to being vegan. I'd rather someone transition slowly and maintain veganism than for someone to quit eating meat and dairy all at once and keep falling back to eating meat and dairy.
You may also find that wherever you live that things can be very expensive depending on what you want to get. Check out your local grocery stores and see what they have available to get price ideas to see what would be maintainable for you personally.
I would encourage people to research online for easy vegan recipes and check out vegan hashtags on Instagram to learn more about it and get meal ideas. It doesn't have to be hard being vegan, there are replacements for everything you had when you ate meat, I promise!
Also, as hard as it is, watch vegan documentaries exposing the meat and dairy industry for the monstrosity that it is. It keeps it very real and you are reminded why you are on this journey or why you want to begin.
How can we get in contact with you?
The best way to get in contact with me is through DM's (direct messages) on instagram or email me at [email protected]