This celebrity chef is dishing up details about her family’s transition to a plant-based lifestyle and sharing tidbits from her new cookbook, Unbelievably Vegan.
Charity Morgan knows her way around the plant-based culinary scene. The celebrity chef and author was featured in the 2018 documentary The Game Changers for her work with plant-based celebrities and top athletes, including the Tennessee Titans football team. Growing up, Morgan was exposed to dishes from her mother’s Puerto Rican heritage, along with her grandma’s Creole recipes. Her passion for food later fueled her through culinary school at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts. Now Morgan lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband (former Tennessee Titans linebacker Derrick Morgan) and their two children. The plant-based go-getter is soon releasing Unbelievably Vegan, her new cookbook which features over 100 life-changing, plant-based recipes.
We had the pleasure of chatting with plant-based chef, author, and culinary game-changer, Charity Morgan. Keep reading for an insight into her family’s plant-based lifestyle and tidbits from her new cookbook.
VegOut (VO): What initially inspired you to go vegan?
Charity Morgan (CM): My husband, former NFL Tennessee Titan linebacker, was the one who became curious about plant-based [eating]. I was skeptical—like how am I going to DO THIS? But after having fun experimenting in the kitchen, I was able to come up with some fantastic meals. [My husband, Derek] noticed a big improvement in his performance, then I made my cooking kid-friendly, and we haven’t looked back!
VO: When your family first transitioned to a plant-based diet, did you go cold vegan turkey or make small changes over time?
CM: I immediately cut the dairy and meat. I left eggs for an extra month but was inspired to get serious and go full throttle when I felt so great from just the small changes I was making.
VO: I think we’d all love to be a fly on the wall at your house during meal times. What are some of the go-to dishes you and your family enjoy on a regular basis?
CM: My kids love super flavorful pasta dishes, like penne alla vodka, and Buffalo chik’n tacos—both recipes are in the book. My daughter also loves rice, beans, and broccoli, so I try to make her those in various ways often.
VO: You’ve worked with a wide range of athletes, including the Tennessee Titans football team. What are some of the common benefits these athletes noticed when transitioning to a plant-based diet?
CM: When tearing your muscles down daily, lowering [inflammation] aids in faster recovery and fewer injuries. It is proven that a plant-based diet assists with this. In addition, [the athletes] have a lot more energy, increased stamina—no dips during the day, more mental clarity, and better sleep (and glowing skin as a perk)!
VO: Congratulations on your new cookbook Unbelievably Vegan. What can we look forward to finding inside?
CM: The idea behind Unbelievably Vegan is to break the myth that giving up animal protein means sacrificing taste. I drew inspiration from my Creole and Puerto Rican heritage and love of bold flavor and spices to create a collection of flavor-bomb plant-based alternatives. Some of my favorites in the book include Creole Krab Cakes with Tarragon Remoulade, Smoky Jambalaya with Blackened Veggies, and Beer Battered Fysh & Chips.
The fun little swap-ins are what people really love, and I share a lot of my tricks in the book—like using oyster mushrooms to stand in for dark chicken meat, ground walnuts instead of pork, and cashew cream instead of heavy cream or cheese sauces. Plant-based foods can be healthy, fun, filling, and highly flavorful. I’m trying to debunk the myth that plants are boring, limiting, and unpalatable.
VO: What is the most rewarding part about being a plant-based celebrity chef and now a cookbook author?
CM: I get to break a lot of rules and myths—just call me a rebel.
VO: For our readers who find cooking to be intimidating, what would you recommend to get them more comfortable in their plant-based kitchens?
CM: Always start with the things you love. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. If you love making tacos, try swapping out the meat and dairy for plant-based options. Then, continue to build on the easy recipes you have been making for years. You aren’t changing what you eat, just the ingredients. My book is to invoke creativity and inspiration. I am not here to make people feel like they have to cook like me.
Photo credit: Rachel Breakey