“Raw. Vegan. Not Gross.”
This hilarious catchphrase is the brainchild of Laura Miller, a San Francisco based raw vegan chef, who’s slicing (pun intended) down the too common notion of raw vegan food being perceived as ‘unsavoury’, one day or should we say, one meal at a time. Raw food has been a part of Laura’s life for over a decade now and her dalliance with it began during her college days. In her own words, raw food brought her more balance, wholeness, and connection to herself.
For Laura, raw food is all about eating healthy and focusing on produce. She says,
People that respond well to me are more middle of the road folks who may not want to put a label on how they eat. Basically, it’s just about feeling better. I’m not saying everyone should be vegan. I just love produce.
But her road to success wasn’t either smooth or straight. She dabbled in a vast variety of professions, from line cook, park ranger, gas station attendant to even being a wedding stationary designer. Through it all, she maintained and nurtured her talent and love for cooking with raw food. In 2008, she started a small business in San Francisco’s Underground Market called Sidesaddle Kitchen where she sold raw, vegan desserts. To distinguish herself from the off-putting, almost judgemental image of raw veganism, she hung a huge banner over her booth proclaiming, ‘RAW. VEGAN. NOT GROSS.’
To make things even more ironic, her booth was in-between stands that sold fried chicken and meat sandwiches. But Laura’s style of upholding a sense of humour about what she was selling along with the deliciousness of her food paid off. Sidesaddle became a success by way of popular response but unfortunately, not so much in financial terms. Laura learned it the hard way that giving away your products for free and showing people that raw food can be delicious may be delightfully fun but it doesn’t do much for profits. Eventually Laura had to shut down her small business.
But, fret not. Fate, as per its fickle nature, looked Laura’s way when she least expected it. About a year later, Tastemade – which is a huge food and travel network – knocked on Laura’s door to film some recipe videos. Terrified, but thrilled at the opportunity to share her love for raw food with the world, Laura took their offer and the show, ‘Raw. Vegan. Not Gross.’ was born and became quite popular on YouTube.
Since then, she shot a lifestyle series with Tastemade called ‘With Laura Miller’, shifted to San Francisco, got married and also wrote her first cookbook, which she says is,
a collection of easy, real-world, not-too-complicated and definitely not-gross recipes which will be released May 2016.
Laura’s Instagram page ‘imlauramiller’ is simply amazing – and I’m not one to throw that word around lightly! The perfect combination of quirky and authentic, it gives a peak into Laura’s playful nature and her habit of not taking herself too seriously. Throughout her feed, one thought remains constant in the minds of the viewer. Clearly, no one ever taught Laura to not play with her food!
If you still think of raw, vegan food as unappetizing, take a peek at some of Laura’s drool worthy creations.
In the past few years, we at TYS have come across a lot of inspiring, optimistic artists and their stories. Laura definitely counts amongst those who inspired us the most with her never-give-up spirit and maintaining her good humour even in the face of adversity. We wish you all the best for the future Laura!