Published 28 February 2023
Michaela Vais, creator of @ElaVegan
Founded by Michaela Vais in 2016, ElaVegan has become a go-to resource for those looking to explore the world of vegan cooking and baking. With a focus on creating delicious, healthy, and easy-to-follow recipes, ElaVegan has amassed a large and loyal following, with an incredible 1.2 million followers on Instagram, and has inspired countless individuals to adopt plant-based living. Michaela or Ela has also recently published a cookbook called ‘Simple and Delicious Vegan,’ which features 100 vegan and gluten-free recipes.
In this interview, we’ll be speaking with Ela about her journey as a vegan food blogger and entrepreneur, as well as her thoughts on the current state and future of veganism.
1 Can you tell us how you first became interested in veganism and what inspired you to start ElaVegan?
I always loved animals and stopped eating meat and fish when I was just six years old. However, it was only many years later, in September 2011, that I fully transitioned to veganism. At the time, I was suffering from severe adult acne. After removing dairy from my diet, my skin cleared up!
I also watched several documentaries about veganism to increase my knowledge. The combination of information about animal suffering and the impact of non-vegan diets on our planet broke my heart.
Now, I am 100% convinced that going vegan was (and still is) the best decision I’ve ever made. I am now proudly an ethical vegan!
How ElaVegan started: I always loved taking photos, but never thought I’d end up shooting my food! In 2015, I had an online friend who also happened to be a vegan, and we were sending us pictures of the food we made via email.
Shortly after, I signed up on Instagram and uploaded my first food photo on June 12, 2015. It was wonderful to connect with like-minded people and talk about veganism and recipes. The feedback of my community was awesome, so I continued taking photos of my food and started my blog ElaVegan in 2016.
2 Can you walk us through your creative process for developing new recipes?
It can be a time-consuming process, especially if I create gluten-free + egg-free bread recipes or desserts. I have made recipes which I had to try up to 10 times until I was happy with the result. I have always been a perfectionist and want all my recipes to be amazing, not just average.
There are a lot of new food accounts on Instagram and TikTok and some of them just copy each others’ “viral recipes” which might be good for the algorithm, but often the recipes aren’t really that great…
I aim to create unique recipes, that are vegan, gluten-free, refined sugar-free, and as healthy as possible, which is definitely challenging but not impossible if you are passionate about what you do!
So, I will try the recipe once, then if I notice it’s not perfect, I will change one ingredient, try it again, etc. It helps to have a lot of experience (in my case over 10 years now).
L-R: Asian Stir-fry Noodles, Coffee Chocolate Pudding, Potato Flatbread from ‘Simple and Delicious Vegan’ by Michaela Vais @ElaVegan
3 How do you stay up-to-date with the latest trends and developments in vegan food?
Of course, I also check the latest trends on social media from time to time and get some inspiration to try new recipes, but I will always add my own “ElaVegan stamp”.
4 Can you share a particularly memorable experience or interaction you’ve had with a reader of ElaVegan?
There are actually so many, which I love! One reader recently wrote me that my recipes helped her to lower her blood pressure and that she doesn’t need medication anymore. It also makes me so happy to hear from my readers that I help them transition to veganism without giving up their favorite dishes!
5 How do you balance your work with other aspects of your life, such as family, health, and personal interests?
I am still working on it! It’s not perfect because I am a workaholic and often spend too much time in front of my computer, writing recipes, replying to comments, working on blog posts, editing photos and videos, etc. I can easily work 14 hours a day, but I love my work, so it doesn’t actually feel like hard work.
I enjoy spending time with my animals (we have 3 rescue cats and a rescue chicken) and I love to go to the beach for long walks every day. My hobby is to make my own soap, which is so much fun. Lately, I am reading a lot about meditation and I definitely want to give it a try!
6 In your experience, what is the most common misconception people have about veganism, and how do you address it?
Most people think veganism is too restricted (“you are only allowed to eat grass”), unhealthy (“where do you get your protein from??”), and also very expensive. However, it’s quite the contrary! A vegan diet is very versatile, healthy, and cheap if you follow a whole food plant-based diet. You can easily get a lot of healthy plant-based protein from legumes like lentils and beans, which are super cheap! I stay away from processed vegan food, which is often expensive and unhealthy. Since being vegan, I eat a huge variety of meals and I am also healthier and have more energy.
Above: Strawberry Crumb Bars from ‘Simple and Delicious Vegan’ by Michaela Vais @ElaVegan
7 What advice do you have for someone who is interested in transitioning to veganism, but doesn’t know where to start?
Just start with a couple of vegan meals per week and go from there. You don’t have to be 100% vegan from day one. Start to incorporate more plant-based dishes into your day, e.g. try this Banana Baked Oatmeal for breakfast, this Quinoa Salad for lunch, and this Red Lentil Dahl for dinner, and get inspired to try out more and more vegan meals.
8 What do you see as the future of veganism, both in terms of food and overall lifestyle?
I believe and hope that more people will be interested in veganism in the future. There are more and more vegan accounts on social media, a lot of vegan restaurants, plenty of new vegan products, and many helpful vegan news sites. More people will hopefully learn that a vegan lifestyle is the way to go, as it reduces animal suffering, is healthier (if done right), and reduces your carbon footprint.
9 Can you share with us one of your favourite recipes from your new cookbook ‘Simple and Delicious Vegan’?
There are many which I love, but one of my favorites is probably my vegan Mushroom Stroganoff recipe.
This mouth-watering mushroom stroganoff recipe is an original creation by ElaVegan from page 145 of Ela's latest cookbook Simple and Delicious Vegan.See the Recipe
Thank you Ela for sharing your insights on veganism and how you caringly and meticulously develop amazing recipes. It’s no wonder you’ve amassed quite a following along with inspiring so many people to give vegan a go!
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