Articles / The Art of Making Vegan Food for Non-Vegans

The Art of Making Vegan Food for Non-Vegans

Published January 11, 2023

Plus, what Mark is enjoying this week

Because you’re all so encouraging and engaging when we share our interests, we’ve decided to try something new: Starting today, each week we’ll send you some recommendations—books we’ve enjoyed reading, what we’re watching, products we like, miscellaneous cooking ideas—with the goal of sending you a bigger recommendations post once a month, give or take. Let’s see how that goes!

And remember, we’re always ready to hear what you’re enjoying on the Bittman Project, what you’re not enjoying (be gentle, but let’s hear it), and what you think could be improved or changed. You can always reach us by reply to an email or leaving a comment on a post.

Mark Recommends


If you think the consolidation of the companies selling us is a problem – even President Biden has expressed alarm that four companies control three quarters of our beef, and the numbers are only slightly less frightening for chicken and pork production – take a look at this post (it includes a terrific graphic, and a glance is enough) about consolidation in the seed industry. The monster is Bayer, which to many of us means “aspirin,” but which is among the world’s biggest chemical companies, and which bought Monsanto a few years back. The message from my end is this: If you’re a gardener or small farmer, finding a local or at least a truly known source for your seeds is important.


Kathleen and I just spent three nights watching RRR, which is three hours long — and the truth is that we hardly ever make it past the first hour of anything, so that’s a strong recommend. It combines a weird macho Mel Gibson-ish buddy movie (but in the best sense, forget what you know about Mel Gibson the human) with Hindu-Indian nationalism (though one has to be careful there), in a bizarre fantasy, and all with pretty awesome music. It’s probably the weirdest actually enjoyable movie of the year. We watched it on Netflix, but maybe we’ll see it again, this time in a theater, where it will be even better. Yup, it’s that good.


Fans of Station Eleven – which I couldn’t get through, but now I’m going to try again – or of The Glass Hotel should consider Emily St. John Mandel’s latest book, Sea of Tranquility. It’s short, almost a novella, well-written sci-fi, taking place in the years between roughly 1912 and 2401, with a lot of time-jumping. Unusual and fun.

COOK IT (for lunch)

I cook lunch almost every day. It’s rarely wow-worthy — it’s usually what’s left over or in the kitchen. Often the main ingredient is patience, so it helps if I’m doing something else while I cook, like Zooming or answering emails. A couple days ago I cooked in a leisurely fashion — let’s say it took a half hour — a chopped onion, carrot, and poblano together in olive oil, and, when they were really soft and their flavors were all melded together, I added some cooked red beans and their juice. I put that over pasta. That sweet-bitterness of the onion-carrot-poblano combo is really quite distinctive. (For great ideas about cooking and eating with less meat, check out my interactive course, ingeniously named How to Eat Less Meat. Enter the promo code NEWYEAR at checkout to get a 25% discount. New classes start each Saturday.)


Today’s episode of Food with Mark Bittman, featuring Holly, Kate, and Slutty Vegan owner and philanthropist Pinky Cole (pictured above). Some background, plus a recipe, below.

– Mark

“To be able to educate meat eaters on eating plant-based has been one of the tools that’s made Slutty Vegan so successful, and for as long as I have breath in my body, I am going to target the meat eaters. Because the more meat eaters I can get to pay attention to plant-based — even if they don’t want to go vegan — if I can get them to pay attention, then I know I’ve done something right.” — Pinky Cole

Holly and I had so much fun with this week’s Food with Mark Bittman guest. She is Pinky Cole, and she’s the kind of person you want to spend hours with. Pinky is best known for Slutty Vegan, her chain of seven restaurants (and growing quickly). It is, in its essence, vegan comfort food, but what I find the most interesting — and we talked to Pinky about this — is that Pinky started it as a way to cater to meat eaters because, as she says, vegans already know how to eat vegan. Her new book, Eat Plants, B*tch, which we also talked to her about, reflects this mantra.

Also of note is that Pinky is a real philanthropist. The Pinky Cole Foundation focuses on empowering generations of color to win in life, financially, and in the pursuit of their entrepreneurial dreams — she told us that one of her goals is to open up a school for people to learn entrepreneurship. In May 2022, Cole gifted an LLC — a limited liability company — to every graduating student at the commencement ceremony of her alma mater, Clark Atlanta University; she and her partner, Derrick Hayes, collaborated with Prudential to gift 25,000 black men with life insurance; and almost immediately after Rayshard Brooks was tragically killed in a Wendy’s parking lot in June of 2020, Cole announced that she would be partnering with Clark Atlanta University to send his four kids to college.

“I draw my inspiration from what I want to see around me,” Pinky told Holly and me. “And what I realized is that there are so many people who just want space and opportunity. We live in a world where people will live and die if they get an opportunity to be in the room, to get to the next level, to be able to use the resources that already exist.”

It’s easy to agree that Pinky is inspirational on paper but, as you’ll see in this conversation, it’s very hard not to feel inspired by her personality, too.

Please listen and subscribe, and please review on Apple if you’re so inclined. Today’s recipe is from Eat Plants, B*tch: Island Cauliflower Po’Boy, vegan, of course. Hope you make it, hope you enjoy it, and hope you enjoy this interview!

Thank you for listening.

– Kate

Follow on: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Overcast | Pocket Casts | Amazon Music

Island Cauliflower Po’Boy

Makes: 4 servings

You might have thought that as a vegan you had to give up on ever again enjoying a traditional po’boy, but this cauliflower po’boy brings all the heat, the sauce, and the bite of the New Orleans classic. — Eat Plants, B*tch



  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into 1-inch florets

  • 1/4 cup plus two tablespoons whole wheat pastry flour

  • 1/4 cup water

  • 1/4 cup hot sauce

  • 2 tablespoons almond butter

  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder

Po’Boy Sauce

  • 1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise

  • 1 tablespoon pineapple juice

  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill

  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh chives

  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder

  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For Assembly

  • 4 vegan sub rolls

  • Sliced pickles (optional)

  • Shredded lettuce (optional)

  • Sliced tomato (optional)


Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Prepare the cauliflower: Place the cauliflower florets into a large bowl.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, water, hot sauce, almond butter, nutritional yeast, and garlic powder until combined. Pour the sauce mixture over the cauliflower and toss until evenly coated.

Spread out the florets in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

Make the po’boy sauce: In a bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, pineapple juice, dill, chives, parsley, garlic powder, ginger, and onion powder until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble: Place several cauliflower bites into a sub roll, bathe it with plenty of po’boy sauce, and add pickles, lettuce, and tomato, if desired.

Now, jump in there!

— Excerpted from EAT PLANTS, B*TCH: 91 Vegan Recipes That Will Blow Your Meat-Loving Mind by Pinky Cole. Copyright © 2022 by Pinky Cole. Published by 13A/Gallery Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, Inc. Printed by permission.

Island Cauliflower Po’boy
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