- Brilynn Ferguson
- Olivia Biermann wanted to "make something that anyone could pick up and cook from."
Biermann began creating vegan versions of her favourite comfort foods (think dairy-free scalloped potatoes) in the early days of her undergrad. “When I was in my first year of university, I started having trouble digesting lactose and red meat so I started cutting those things out, and over the process of two years, I started a slow transition to veganism.
Eventually, I started looking into the ethical side of it and I decided that I wanted to stay eating this way for ethical reasons,” she explains.
Now, videos offering weeknight dinners in 15 minutes and meal ideas for $3 a pop define her brand of speedy, simple and cheap cooking. Meanwhile, she looks every bit the YouTube vet, starting videos with “Hey guys” and wearing high-end athleisure. “People who have been following my YouTube channel for so long will be like ‘I just realized after two years that you’re from Halifax’—they always think I’m from Toronto or LA or somewhere,” she adds.
But a giveaway of Biermann’s Maritime roots can be found in her recipes—particularly those in her upcoming cookbook, Liv B’s Vegan on a Budget (out Feb 15 ), which features familiar regional favourites like east coast-style chowder, gingerbread cake with caramel sauce and strawberry shortcake.
All of the book’s offerings are the sort of thing that could be whipped up in a spartan student kitchen, and a hefty chapter on baked goods and desserts makes Vegan on a Budget feel decidedly less diet-and-weight-loss focused than many of Biermann’s peers’.
“I have this recipe in my cookbook for maple curry
“I’ll get inspired by a family recipe or something I grew up eating and I take it on as a challenge for myself to try and make a vegan version of it,” she adds. “What I’ve always tried to do is make recipes that are accessible, budget-conscious and things that anyone could make—and that’s what I tried to do with this book: Make something that anyone could pick up and cook from and not have it be this big, daunting thing.”