KAIN KALYE 2014: Rachelle Zamora of Dope Eats

Kale and Lentil Pizza (Gluten-Free)

One of the participants at Kultura 2014 will be Rachelle Zamora of Addicted to Veg. She began a plant-based diet based on the advice of her health practitioner, and has not looked back since. Despite her family and friends' initial shocked response ("A Filipino vegetarian? Is there such a thing? Do those even exist?!"), she has since discovered that going vegetarian does not mean limiting one's meals to salads. Plus, the health benefits of being vegetarian are not to be underestimated, and she is very passionate about this, saying that: "I want people to at least be informed about these benefits so they may make positive changes for themselves and their families."

Catch Rachelle Zamora of Addicted 2 Veg on August 10th at this year's Kultura Filipino Arts Festival at Artscape Wychwood Barns, along with other Filipino-Canadian talents, merchants, artisans, and chefs. Learn more about her journeys in vegetarianism after the jump. (Q1) What food or dish that you encountered on your vegan journey has become a surprise favourite?

Rachelle Zamora: There are SOOO many delicious dishes that I have encountered and created it is so hard to choose! A lot of people think that I eat salads all day but that is definitely not the case!  A few favourites include: fresh home made pesto with kale and mushrooms on brown rice pasta, kale and lentil pizza, bean burrito with cilantro rice and vegan cheese.

My ultimate dish that I make on a regular basis is guacamole (mashed avocado, garlic, onions, cayenne pepper and cilantro) and bruschetta (diced tomatoes, garlic, chopped fresh basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar) on toasted bread, in a sandwich or even a wrap. The blend of delicious flavours are unreal! I even made this dish for my family while in visiting in the Philippines in January and they LOVED it! They have never heard of guacamole or bruschetta before, so this was an amazing treat!

(Q2) If you could introduce a vegan dish to the mainstream Filipino community, what would it be? Would it be a spin on an old favourite (a veganized Filipino dish), or create a new offering entirely?

RZ: In terms of introducing a vegan dish to the community, it will definitely have to be my Vegan Empanadas! I love Filipino food and I want to show people that giving up meat doesn't mean you have to give up your favourite foods. You get to be creative and find new ways to use traditional Filipino flavours.

With the Empanadas, I use a meat-less ground that looks and tastes like ground beef, but its not! If people didn't know it was vegan, they probably wouldn't even know its not meat! The meat-less ground is seasoned and mixed with the usual diced carrots, potatoes, peas and mini raisins. The savoury taste of these empanadas is DEFINITELY a dish that all Filipinos will LOVE!!!

Keep an eye on Rachelle's food adventures at Addicted 2 Veg for more delicious vegan meals!