Em von Euw on living a “rawsome” vegan life
For some, being vegan is about living cruelty free; for others, it’s simply about the diet and living a healthy lifestyle. For Em von Euw, it is both. A young, non-binary Canadian blogger and university student with six cookbooks under their belt, Em von Euw transitioned to veganism in 2011 at the age of 16, and started a blog, This Rawsome Vegan Life, shortly after.
Von Euw grew up near Turtle Island, about 15 minutes from Vancouver. Local berries and other indigenous foods grew in abundance near their childhood home. “Veganism is not the answer to everything. There are bigger problems we must face. Eating vegan takes less of a toll on the planet and requires much less violence and abuse, so being able to provide books that promote veganism is a gift,” von Euw says.
Speaking of gifts, von Euw’s most recent cookbook, Rawsome Superfoods, was released this past December. “This is my favourite book yet,” says von Euw. Their cookbook titles include The Rawsome Vegan Cookbook, 100 Best Juices, Smoothies and Healthy Snacks, and Rawsome Vegan Baking. What makes von Euw’s achievements so amazing is that they do every part of the cookbook creation: recipe development, content creation and photography.
It hasn’t been easy for von Euw. They faced the usual challenges of being vegan — finding ingredients and crafting delicious recipes that fit the dietary restrictions. Von Euw develops each and every recipe in their cookbooks. They find their flavours in many ways, though “usually by accident.”
“I am drawn to weird labels and sexy colours and textures,” they say. “This is how I discovered my love of sesame oil, for example. I also smell ingredients a lot and think about how different flavours can work together (or not).”
But there was more that they had to face than just food-based challenges. An anxiety disorder and depression proves to be an ongoing battle for von Euw, one they frequently win, if their cookbooks are any indication.
“Worry spirals, panic attacks, lack of motivation and energy all make everything difficult. This includes writing cookbooks. Plus, balancing my other ‘responsibilities’ in life, maintaining other priorities and trying to find a way to keep my books consistent with my politics are all little challenges!” von Euw explains.
Over the years, during their journey from young food blogger to cookbook author extraordinaire, von Euw’s relationship with food has changed. “There have been so many phases of learning and growth over the many years of my being vegan,” says von Euw. “I have had to recover from years of eating disorders and believing diet pseudoscience in order to land here, in a healthy relationship with food, all while maintaining a vegan lifestyle. That is challenging at times, but I have the support I need to accomplish it without usually being triggered.”
Blogging about their experiences and writing their cookbooks helped them grow. “My cookbooks are all very different because I’m a dynamic person. I’m always changing,” explains von Euw. “So for each book, you find a snapshot of who I was when I wrote it. What recipes I enjoyed, what ingredients I preferred, what resources I was consuming, what messages about food I thought were important. Additionally, my photography style is noticeably different in each book. Again, this is because I am always trying something new and seeing where it takes me. I am so happy to share with the world recipes that people want and words that people need to hear.”
It is a wonderful thing to see a young person with so much success already develop a healthy relationship with food. “Food is powerful in that we can connect over it, it gives us life, and recipes and ingredients contain multitudes of rich cultural, political, social and economic histories,” says von Euw. “Humans can eat an amazing diversity of foods and get by just fine. At the end of the day, eat what you want and live your life.”