Ice cream hero, turned blogger and food stylist, Richard Makin popped up on our radar at our local Saturday market some time ago. And, it was like first love heartbreak when we found out he was leaving the ice cream world and we wouldn’t be able to get our weekly fix. His latest venture and food blog School Night Vegan is helping the wound heal. Since becoming vegan, Richard has taken on the challenge of making well-known recipes plant-based and showcasings his creations via his blog and Instagram. We had a little chat with Richard about his journey from ice cream into food blogging and here’s what he said.
Can you tell us a bit about your work and why plant-based ingredients are important to you and your work?
I’m a food stylist and recipe developer specialising in completely vegan dishes. My food blog School Night Vegan is essentially a running portfolio of all the food I love to make, hopefully made accessible to fellow home cooks! Aside from being more ethical, healthy and mindful, vegan cooking is important to me because it’s challenging. Since going vegan back in 2017, I’ve had to retrain myself to cook without eggs and dairy (I was a vegetarian beforehand) and honestly It’s been like unlocking a new level on a computer game. Redesigning and rethinking familiar animal-based recipes comes with so many new challenges but, in turn, can be so rewarding when the vegan outcome is just as delicious.
Why do you think it is important that we, as a society, change our eating habits to include more plants?
We’ve reached a tipping point where it’s no longer possible to ignore the effects of animal agriculture. As a society, we’re really good at doing just enough to feel like a responsible, caring human and then basking in our “progressive ethics” for as long as we feel comfortable. Recent years have forced us all to do a lot of thinking about our actions, and whether you’re concerned with issues of race, gender, animal cruelty or the environment, the truth is that we can all do more. Yes, going vegan can sometimes feel like an insignificant change in the grand scheme of things, but for me it’s about holding myself accountable and exchanging compulsion for compassion.
What 3 plant-based ingredients can you not live without?
This is a tricky one! I’m torn between choosing my favourites and my essentials, so I’ll do a bit of both! I’d have to say olive oil (because I use it in almost every meal), cashews (because I could literally bathe in cashew cream), and vinegar (because just about everything can be improved by pickling).
What is your all-time favourite plant-based dish to cook or eat (in or out)? And what types of dishes do you avoid, if any?
The most memorable vegan dish I’ve ever had has to be from my dear friends at Eat Chay. They’re a plant-based Vietnamese street food company based in London and their Bahn Mi could probably cure heartbreak (and have definitely cured a handful of my own hangovers). In terms of making a dish myself, I love baking and recently I made a batch of vegan chocolate babka buns. It was so rewarding and I ate the entire batch myself. And finally I don’t avoid any dishes! I really will give any vegan food a try at least once!
What is your go-to cafe/restaurant for an inspired veg-focused meal?
I got married last year and we went for brunch the next day at Club Mexicana (at the Spread Eagle in East London). I’m a friend of the founder Meriel and I’m consistently impressed with their take on Mexican food. Their Eloté (Mexican corn on the cob) is next level!
Stay tuned for Richard’s Chocolate Babka Buns recipe which we will be posting next week.