Four years ago, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, author extraordinaire, pitched a vegan blogging event modeled after National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) to the Post Punk Kitchen forums, wherein newbie and established bloggers alike would commit to blogging regularly about vegan food and the vegan lifestyle for one month of the year. The Vegan Month of Food (Vegan MoFo) has grown in spades since its inaugural year, and one of its organizers and fourth-year participant, Kittee Berns, told VegNews about her love for all things MoFo, along with her own current projects.
Last year, Berns hosted the MoFo blogroll on her own blog, Cake Maker to the Stars, did administrative work developing the public RSS feed, and maintained the list of MoFo-ers—no small feat as almost 500 blogs participated—all of which needed to be manually hyperlinked. “We are letting Google help us with some of the administrative things this year, which is awesome, but I am still doing a lot of the behind the scenes things—answering email, tidying up the MoFo blog, creating an RSS feed, tweeting, summarizing, and of course, blogging myself silly, if all goes as planned,” Berns says.
Berns has seen massive growth in MoFo since 2007. She maintains that MoFo’s exponential growth is mostly due to Moskowitz’s popularity—“she is the main headliner for MoFo, and anything she backs or gets involved in draws scores of vegans and vegan-interested folks” she says. MoFo has also gained popularity due to talented vegans of all professions getting involved, such as Amanda Chronister, who designed this year’s new logos. Berns says they currently have almost 300 blogs signed up from 15 different countries. Participants keep their content interesting and original by playing around with themes.
“Vegan MoFo has always been in either October or November so that lends itself to Halloween, Thanksgiving, and autumnal themes easily. We’ve also had culinary contests, veganized family recipes, cookbook addicts, and then others whose only theme was blogging every single day throughout the entire month. The trend I’ve really noticed this year is that we have crazy amounts of MoFo newbies signing on board, almost half of our current participants are new to Vegan MoFo,” Berns says.
As far as Berns herself is concerned, MoFo offers a great opportunity to focus on two current projects she is hoping to get moving; one a vegan cookbook comprised of New Orleans recipes she has been working on for several years, and the other a vegan gluten-free zine. Berns penned the zine Papa Tofu, and enjoys working in the zine format as it is “a little less intimidating and a little more creative.” She hopes to have the gluten-free zine ready to go in early 2011.
Gluten-free vegan food is very important to Berns. Her fibromyalgia flared following her evacuation from New Orleans two years ago due to 2008’s Hurricane Gustav, and she was desperate to find a way to cope with the pain. “I was stuck on a couch for weeks upon weeks due to horrible myofascial pain,” Berns says. Since she’d never tried it before, Berns decided to give up gluten on a whim, after reading that a lot of other fibromyalgia sufferers have benefited from the diet change. “Now, I feel 75 percent better than I’ve felt in the last 20 years, so I’m sticking with it forever. It can be emotionally challenging to be gluten-free as a vegan, which is one of the reasons I want to write a zine about it.”
Berns shares with VegNews several recipes she has developed that are both NoLa-inspired and gluten-free. For a vegan taste of New Orleans, we highly recommend her Smothered Black Eyed Peas, and for dessert, Pecan Pralines are divine. For the ultimate crispy kale doubling as a killer gluten-free snack food, try her Cheezie, Crunchy Kale Chips.
For Vegan MoFo, Berns also hopes to wrangle up some omnivores and convince them to go vegan for a week or longer, as well as do something to commemorate her 20th anniversary of being vegan. “My absolute favorite thing about MoFo-ing is the community that comes together around the event—everyone is supportive, excited, and writing about vegan food,” Berns says.
To sign up for Vegan MoFo, head to the Vegan MoFo Headquarters International. If blogging’s not your thing, you will still have the opportunity to read a slew of passionate vegans blogs updated religiously for the entire month of November. We recommend telling your non-vegan friends and family about MoFo, who might just want to add a few blogs to their Google Reader feeds. Happy 2010 Vegan MoFo!