Play With Your Food: Easy Vegan Recipes

A famous activist and tree sitter shows us how food is both political and fun.


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Our forks are powerful agents of change. The food we choose to put on them turns them either into weapons of mass destruction or tools of mass compassion. Foods that support big agribusiness farming or that are filled with sweeteners, preservatives, artificial coloring, over-processed ingredients, pesticides, and herbicides are destroying global health. Animal-free food that’s organic, local, in season, and free of added junk creates powerful healing for the entire planet.

People are often afraid to cook; sometimes they’re afraid of food itself. We’re so disconnected from our food sources that we no longer know how to nourish ourselves. We’re afraid of recipes—afraid we’ll “mess up” or won’t enjoy what we prepare. We’re overwhelmed by lists of ingredients and gadgets and fall back on old-standbys: pasta, potatoes, rice, bread, dairy, and meat.

Well, I’m excited to say that food is a celebration of life! It can be fun, fast, healthy, and delicious. Really! Recipes don’t have to be a path you absolutely have to follow. For me, recipes are lights you shine on the path, and then you take the time to smell, taste, and pick what you love most.

With that in mind, I hope you love the following “recipes” as much as everyone I’ve shared them with. Remember, it’s all about playing with the food and your senses—a constant collaboration between you and your ingredients. Have fun and enjoy.

Celebration Pâtê  

I came up with this recipe using the leftover juicer pulp from carrot, beet, ginger, and lemon juice. I make the tahini spread, mix in the pulp, and add celery, bell pepper, and spices. This incredibly healthy pâté is delicious on crackers, sandwiches, celery stalks, or wrapped in lettuce leaves. The key to playing with flavor is starting with less than you think you’ll need. It’s easier to add salt, vinegar, or spices than to undo too much of a flavor.

Very Veggie Luscious Lasagna

Even if you chop fresh herbs and vegetables, this recipe shouldn’t take longer than thirty minutes to prepare—even if you’re new to the kitchen. Mushrooms, thinly sliced carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, and broccoli are delicious in this dish. If you don’t have fresh herbs on hand, substitute 1 teaspoon each of the dried herbs or 2 tablespoons Italian Seasoning.

Top Anything Sauce

This sauce is great with steamed veggies, stir-fry, over rice noodles, rice, or quinoa—even as a salad dressing.

Yam Comfort Bake

Perfect comfort food any time, yams are low fat and absolutely delicious. To turn this into a satisfying main dish, simply double the recipe and adjust seasonings to taste.

Julia Butterfly Hill brought international attention to the plight of the world’s last remaining ancient forests when she climbed into the branches of a 1,000 year-old redwood tree and stayed there for 738 days. Her protest culminated with an agreement that provides permanent protection for the tree known as Luna and a three-acre buffer zone. Hill’s book, The Legacy of Luna (HarperSanFrancisco, 2001), based on her personal account of the Luna tree-sit action, will soon be made into a feature-length film.

Hill has also founded the nonprofit Circle of Life ( to promote the sustainability, restoration, and preservation of life. She continues to stand on the front lines of environmental and social justice issues worldwide.