Bianca Phillips

Job: Crosstown Arts, Communications Coordinator

Blog: Vegan Crunk

Why did you decide to start a vegan blog?

At the time, it was 2007, and I had been a vegan since 2004; I was also vegetarian before that for 10 years. I found that I was doing a lot more cooking at home. I looked at food blogs for ideas and inspiration, and I thought, “I could do that and put my food life out there.” My favorite blogs were more like food journals, kind of a “day in the life,” and my blog is mostly that. I post every Monday through Thursday and share what I’m eating as well as share Memphis restaurant reviews. I also do vegan product reviews. In fact, I just got the newest shipment of Ben & Jerry’s vegan ice cream.

Why is the blog called Vegan Crunk?

I’m really into Memphis rap, especially at that time (2007) with Three 6 Mafia and Gangsta Boo. I was trying to think of a word that’s very “Memphis,” and “crunk” is so Memphis. Crunk rap started here, and I wanted the blog to be about being vegan in Memphis.

How did the blog evolve into a cookbook?

Even though I wasn’t posting a lot of recipes on my blog, I was developing recipes at home. A year after the blog started, I realized that I was mastering a lot of them. I grew up in Arkansas with fried everything so I was veganizing a lot of that stuff and decided to write a cookbook. I published a book in 2012 called “Cookin’ Crunk : Eatin’ Vegan in the Dirty South.” It’s a collection of mostly family recipes that I veganized, and my grandma wrote half of the dessert section by veganizing her pies and desserts. It was a fun family project!

How did you come to be vegan?

I went vegetarian in 1994 when I was 14. I spent a week with a friend from India, and they were all vegetarians for religious reasons. Eating with them for a week, I realized how easy it was. I told my parents I was going vegetarian after that week, and I continued for the next 10 years. In 2004, my 10-year anniversary of vegetarianism was coming up. Through the animal rights work I was doing with a local organization, I realized that if I truly wanted to live a compassionate life and support animal rights, I should go vegan. It’s strictly ethical for me and not a diet thing.

What are your go-to Memphis vegan restaurants/dishes?

My favorite place is the café at Crosstown Arts. It’s plant-focused and has the most amazing vegan meals. Imagine Vegan Café would definitely be a favorite, and it’s more on the “treat yourself” side with things like vegan mozzarella sticks and vegan drumsticks. One of the most popular pages on my blog is the Memphis Vegan Dining Guide. It’s my list of every place that I know of in Memphis that has vegan options, and I’m constantly adding to it.