Essential Ingredients

Aisha Adams, a cookbook author and blogger who works out of her rural Mills River home. Photo by Tim Robison

Aisha Adams, a cookbook author and blogger who works out of her rural Mills River home. Photo by Tim Robison

Aisha Adams has a simple message for anyone interesting in turning vegan: it isn’t that difficult. Really.

To prove her point, the Mills River-based blogger, author, and local journalist recently released a book, Vegan Curious: Answers, Recipes and Activities to Help You Jumpstart Your Vegan Lifestyle, to guide those interested in making the change.

It’s the result of questions asked through her well-branded blog, where she writes about her vegan lifestyle, women’s wellness, and current events, particularly issues concerning the black community. What dominates the main page, though, is a moving scroll of delicious food photos. She says friends, family, and followers frequently comment on these savory images — but don’t always understand the tenets behind them.

“I focus on living consciously, eating consciously, and thinking consciously,” explains the 36-year-old mom, who’s originally from Birmingham, Alabama. The lifestyle switch she’s offering doesn’t support any of the standard clichés: the granola-munching hippie, say, or the big-city activist too busy saving the world to settle down.

Adams enjoys a balance. “The mountains provide a serene backdrop for organizing ideas and telling truths, and also, there aren’t very many African-American women who are sharing their stories in the blogosphere from a rural perspective,” she says. “It has definitely helped me to stand out and attract a more diverse audience. … I have formed great relationships with farmers, chefs, and business owners who believe in organic and sustainable living. In Mills River, I have all the tranquility of country living with the amenities to the city less than an hour away. … When I don’t feel like going to [Asheville] there are popup markets and fruit stands all around me, and I love to eat and shop locally.

“My purpose,” she continues, “is to show people that you can be a mom, have a business, work a job, have a husband, and still be vegan. It’s not impossible. I think when people think of veganism they think of a single person living a very chic and expensive lifestyle, as opposed to someone responsible for a family.”

Formerly an English teacher at Asheville High, Adams became a vegan five years ago to improve her health. Her husband, producer and audio engineer Rafrica Adams, grew up vegan, and when they were dating, he shared his experience and knowledge, sending her articles and advising her about making different food choices for her diabetic son, Doriyan.

“Even though I thought I was eating healthy, I really wasn’t,” says Adams.

Recipes in her book are now staples in her home — dishes like tofu scramble, buffalo cauliflower, banana ice cream, and kale chips. The book answers such common questions as: “Where am I supposed to get my protein?,” “How do I convince my mate to transition?,” and “Where should I shop?”

“I don’t think everyone has to go vegan, even though I prefer the vegan lifestyle,” she says. “I just think people need the knowledge. It’s so important to eat healthy and know what to look out for. Just making small changes to your lifestyle can give you big rewards.”

Her testimony has converted fellow co-workers to make those small changes, and is likely to influence more minds, as well, given her work’s accessible format, both online and in print. Books have sold in more than 40 states. Adams said she’s happy that her blog now earns money while she sleeps.

“I’ve had people e-mail me and say they planned to try it during the week to start,” she said, “and I’ve had people say they finished the book, that it’s great — but they plan to get started after [the holidays].”

Vegan Curious: Answers, Recipes and Activities to Help You Jumpstart Your Vegan Lifestyle by Aisha Adams can be purchased through Adams’ blog, www.aishaadams.com, through amazon.com, and at two independent Asheville book stores: Firestorm Books & Coffee (610 Haywood Road, West Asheville) and Malaprop’s Bookstore/Café (55 Haywood St., downtown).

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