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Aladdin star Mena Massoud road tripped Canada and the U.S. to discover the best new vegan spots.
Canadian-Egyptian actor Mena Massoud is best known for playing the titular role in Disney’s live-action Aladdin, but most recently he’s turned his love of plant-based eating into a road trip across North America to discover the cream of the crop in plant-based eating. And many of Vancouver’s plant based restaurants have graced its pages with recipe contributions.
In 2018, Mena Massoud founded his company Evolving Vegan, which aims to introduce people to the benefits of plant-based living with a no-judgement attitude. These days, Evolving Vegan is a lifestyle that now includes a part cookbook/part travel guide that features 80 drool-worthy, globally inspired recipes we can all (try) to put together.
Actor and cookbook author, Mena Massoud
Massoud began cutting meat out of his diet in 2015 after he and his friends began researching the impacts of animal consumption on the body and in the environment. They slowly started cutting animal products out of their diets and Massoud says of the early days, “I started feeling a lot better,” adding, “I had more energy, I felt lighter and I was making progress in the gym I had never made before so that definitely encouraged me to keep going.”
“I’m a big believer in doing it slowly and I am also a big supporter of people not wanting to go completely vegan but are doing their best to evolve in the direction of plant-based eating.” Massoud adds, “even if people cut meat out of their diet just one day a week, they’re evolving in the right direction.”
“There was no shortage of great plant based options in Vancouver – thats for sure” says Massoud. So he obviously asked many of our local plant based favourites if they wanted to include recipes from the pages of their own menus, including; Virtuous Pie, Heirloom, Chickpea, Indigo Age Café, and MeeT and also includes conversations with these revolutionary restaurateurs.
Ready to dig in? He’s shared one of his favourites from Virtuous Pie, below.
We’ve come to love our local favourite Virtuous Pie for their plant-based handcrafted pizza, but they also serve up some tasty appetizers. Massoud got his hands on their “meatball” skillet recipe and we can’t wait to try it.
For the Ricotta:
1 cup blanched almonds
1 lemon (zest)
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tablespoons of neutral oil
Sea salt and black pepper
For the “meatballs”:
8oz extra-firm tofu, drained
2oz white button mushrooms
½ small yellow onion
1 garlic clove
1 can lentils, drained, rinsed
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp cornstarch
½ cup bread crumbs
1 tsp Italian seasoning
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp red pepper flakes
For the sauce:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 can crushed tomatoes
¼ tsp crushed paprika
¼ ground cumin
Grated parmesan cheese
Excerpted from Evolving Vegan by Mena Massoud, published by Tiller Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Copyright © 2020 by Evolving Vegan, Inc. All rights reserved. Photo credit: Andrew Rowley
Evolving Vegan is available now on amazon.ca and on chapters.indigo.ca