Wednesday, August 5, 2015

10 Questions: Vegan Foodie with Mark Stroud

Culinary Olympic award-winner and vegan of more than 40 years, chef Mark Stroud is a beacon of peace ushering in a new, more compassionate world and has been for many years. Inspired by Dr. Will Tuttle's best-selling World Peace Diet, Mark has continued the message of the work with book studies in his native Cincinnati - along with classes, teacher trainings, workshops and more - as well as helped to create the popular Jubilee Peace Fest, now in its fifth year. Right now, there is a crowd-sourced fundraising effort to bring Mark's amazing recipes to publication as a companion to Dr. Tuttle's groundbreaking book in the form of a cookbook, The World Peace Diet Cookbook, which would make the teachings of The World Peace Diet even more practicable with his delicious recipes. In addition, the fundraising efforts will help to make the World Peace Diet Cuisine line of organic vegan food products available for everyone as well as a couple of other ambitious but important goals: creating the Peace House Grille dining area to offer locals the opportunity to try cruelty-free cuisine and funding their Jubilee Animal Sanctuary so that they can expand their capacity for taking in more animals in need. Please consider supporting this worthwhile cause! For all that he has done to help create a more peaceful, just and compassionate world, we are proud to have had an opportunity to get some more wisdom from Mark Stroud.

1. How did you start down this path of creating delicious food? Was a love for food nurtured into you? Did you have any special relatives or mentors who helped to instill this passion?

This question was tailor-made for me. I grew up in the middle of my Grandmother Nana’s catering business. She was the matriarch of our family and a gourmet chef. My entire childhood until I was 18 or so was a culinary apprenticeship under the loving and watchful eye of my maternal Grandmother. It was in this fertile culinary ground where I developed a deep love for food and all its wonders, from cultivation all the way to compost.

2. What was your diet like when you were growing up? Did you have any favorite meals or meal traditions? Do you carry them over today?

My family lived with my Grandmother for many years and my diet was, for the most part, very traditional American. What was unique was the high-end catering facet of my life. I started making hors’d'oeuvres and canapés for catered parties when I was nine years old. Those appetizers became some of my favorite childhood eats — and of course miniature dessert delicacies. When I started cooking professionally, it was most fun for me to create vegan versions of my Grandmother’s recipes, such as bacon wraps. Many of these creations are featured in my cookbook.

3. What is the best vegan meal you've ever had? Give us all the details!

I learned a long time ago that, as a chef, I am incapable of pleasing all people all the time. That led me to cook primarily for me, with my own palate in mind when generating menus. Thank goodness that over the years many others have demonstrated a love for my food, too. One of my favorite foods and one of my favorite creations is artichoke tetrazzini, which is to be a star menu item at our new restaurant the Peace House Grille. 

4. If you could prepare one meal or dessert for anyone living or dead, who would it be for and what would you create?

My first thought is someone influential who might turn others on to vegan food. I have prepared meals for a number of celebrities, such as Forest Whitaker and the increasingly controversial Donald Trump, that might make that difference. In my heart, I see myself preparing a meal for my Grandmother Nana, who left a lasting impact on me and greatly influenced the trajectory of my life. I’d love to prepare for her the artichoke tetrazzini I mentioned earlier.

5. What do you think are common mistakes in vegan cooking and how do you avoid them?

In my cooking classes and in the cookbook, I talk about the Three P’s. Fear in the kitchen is the number one thing I see holding people back from new culinary adventures, including vegan exploration. The three parts of a recipe are the Three P’s: Procurement, Preparation and Presentation. Knowing that the first P is simply buying food to have a well-stocked kitchen is easy and fearless for most people. Who doesn’t like to shop? And just by completing the first P, the recipe is 33% completed and one is well on their way, which eases that indoctrinated fear from family history and habits.

6. What ingredients are you especially excited about at the moment?

Sea vegetables, gluten-free ingredients, and a large dose of live foods get my juices flowing. In grade school, I remember reading in my “Weekly Reader” that seaweed will be the food of the future. Fast forward to now with our toxic land environment; the dense nutrients still found in the vegetables of our oceans are an Aladdin’s treasure. Bringing this under-utilized treasure trove of food to everyday households is, for me, a dream come true. The cookbook is gluten-free, full of live food dishes, and of course chock full of sea vegetables.

7. What are your top three cuisines from around the world?

From childhood to this day, Italian has always been one of my favorites. My first restaurant was in San Diego, California, where my produce was purchased in the street markets of Tijuana, Mexico. So, from that experience, food from south of the border is high on my list. And, from my Grandmother, I still love food from the United States, particularly with a Southern influence, as she came from the most southern part of Kentucky.

8. Who or what has been most influential to you on your vegan path? Individuals, groups, books, films, etc. included.

My friend Paul, who is the spitting image of St. Germain, stands out for me. I particularly remember the day he asked me as a 20-year-old while sitting in a Chinese restaurant, “Why are you eating that chicken?” In that moment of realization, I had no good answer. Reading the book Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse was also a big influence in my freshman year of college; it exposed me to Buddhism, yoga and vegetarianism. More recently, it has been my association and collaboration with Dr. Will Tuttle, author of The World Peace Diet, who is a constant source of inspiration. We think very much alike and are deeply invested comrades in arms.

9. What issue is nearest and dearest to your heart that you would like people to know more about?

I live with rescued racehorses and they remind me every day of the horrors our fellow animals must endure. It is a little known fact that horses have historically been — and to this day are — used by humans for so-called “food,” just as are cows, pigs, chickens, goats, ducks, turkeys, fish, rabbits, sheep, etc. It is my mission that it be brought to the attention of the masses that horses, along with their fellow animal friends, are no different from us, the human-animal. They deserve to be treated with kindness, gentleness, respect and unconditional love.

10. Last, please finish this sentence. "To me, veganism is…"

World peace! As a culture we are bankrupt physically and spiritually. One example is how we look at food. By definition, food has to be a substance for nourishment and growth. Eating dead animal parts and the secretions of enslaved animals is clearly malnourishment for the slaughtered and exploited animals themselves. Considering our current human health crisis, eating dead animal parts and the secretions of enslaved animals is a non-food event for us also. In my hometown of Cincinnati, there are over 1,500 restaurants that proclaim to be serving food and only two or three vegan restaurants actually are. The people who eat this purported “food” at these restaurants are actually filling themselves full of fear and violence and are literally starving to death physically and spiritually. They are consequently unable to live a truly authentic, peaceful life because of this horrifying norm. By shedding this practice and adopting a vegan lifestyle, each person now has the gift to be World Peace!


  1. I have attended the World Peace Jubilee... a long weekend of music, yoga, education and FANTASTIC vegan fare. I remember licking my plate at the end of each meal. Mark Stroud is an excellent chef.


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