World Vegetarian And Vegan News announced on April 1 that the upcoming royal wedding would be entirely free of animal products due to cultural, health and environmental concerns.
“Celebrity vegan cook Sarah Kramer is being brought over from Canada to advise on ingredients for the reworked royal wedding cake,” the post said.
The report was, of course, just an April Fools’ Day hoax. While Kramer won’t be crafting an egg-free, dairy-free cake for Prince William and Kate Middleton this coming weekend, she will be taking part in the in the third annual Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale along with more than 140 groups across six continents from April 23 through May 1.
“My favorite thing in the world is to watch someone who isn’t vegan eat a vegan cookie and watch their eyes open,” Kramer says. “I’m changing people’s minds one tummy at a time.”
“You had to go on a bus tour across town to some back alley to try and find soy milk,” she says laughing. “But now it couldn’t be easier to be vegan.”
These days, the vegan diet has no shortage of mainstream exposure. Former President Bill Clinton told CNN's Wolf Blitzer in 2010 that he had adopted a plant-based diet in an attempt to reverse his heart disease. Talk show hosts Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart both recently aired vegan episodes.
Skeptics might assume vegan desserts can’t compete with their dairy and egg-laden counterparts. But last summer Chloe Coscarelli became the first vegan to win a cooking competition on Food Network, taking top prize on “Cupcake Wars.” Doron Petersan of D.C.’s Sticky Fingers Bakery secured another vegan victory on the show in March.
“I think vegan baking is finally getting the respect and recognition it deserves,” Petersan says. “When done well it’s just as good if not better than traditional baked goods.”
Vegan baking has come a long way since its start as part of a more health-conscious movement in the ‘70s, says Melisser Elliott, author of “The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life.” It’s not all sawdust cookies and date bars.
“Over the years it has gotten a lot more decadent,” she says. “People are really going for it and trying to veganize things that people didn’t think were possible.”
As one of the organizers of the first vegan bake sale in Vienna, Austria, Elliott says she’s appealing to people’s taste buds rather than touting the health benefits of a plant-based diet.
Gary Loewenthal, director of the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale, also sees the global event as a way to show people that eating vegan food doesn’t have to mean sacrificing flavor.
“People are afraid of having to give up their favorite desserts,” he says. “At a vegan bake sale we can show them that they don’t need to have that fear.”
Vegan baking staples can now be found on the shelves of most supermarkets. Cow’s milk can be switched out for non-dairy alternatives like almond or soy milk, and a vegan margarine or vegetable oil can take the place of butter.
Replacing eggs can be trickier and depends on their role in the recipe, but common substitutions include ground flax seeds, silken tofu, blended bananas, and a mixture of vinegar and baking soda.
Best-selling cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskowitz has been experimenting with vegan baking since she embraced the diet in 1989 and says it has become a lot more accessible since then.
“I hope that after a while it stops being this thing where we’re replacing eggs and dairy and we’re just naturally working with vegan ingredients,” she says. “And I think that’s happening.”
iReport by Isa Chandra Moskowitz: If Bake Sales Are Outlawed Only Outlaws Will Have Bake Sales
Moskowitz runs the popular vegan cooking website “Post Punk Kitchen” and helped put together a bake sale in Omaha, Nebraska, earlier this month. The event raised more than $3,000 for Japan disaster relief.
“For me the bake sale is a holiday and it’s a celebration,” says Moskowitz, who recently tweeted that the Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale is one of her favorite times of the year. “And at the same time it’s raising money for a worthy cause.”
And that's an idea fit for royalty.