"At a nice atelier in Jordaan, Amsterdam, we give workshops on food photography and styling, but also about Instagram and the use of social media in general. Our dream is to have a small farm with a studio where we can do even more gatherings and workshops, and to write a cook book for vegan cakes." We're talking with the couple, Suus and Johann, behind Food Bandits.
Don’t you think it’s extreme to be a vegan?
"I think it’s extreme how badly we treat animals. I don’t think everyone should be vegan, but the complete obsession some people have with meat, especially for such low prices, is ridiculous. I think spreading in-depth information about food, the effects of the production of it on the environment – for example, the fact that 100.000 litre water is needed to produce 1 kilo of minced meat, is bizarre – and appealing alternatives can certainly help people to start having more vegan meals."
How did your interest in food start?
"The first day I started living on my own, I didn’t spend my last money on some highly necessary tableware, but on a cook book by Nigella Lawson. I have all of her books, and although I cannot use every recipe of hers anymore, she remains a great source of inspiration for me. I used to bake a lot with my little sister, Puck, and Johann, husband and co-founder of Food bandits, also has caught onto the baking and cooking virus soon after. With his background in chemistry, he also knows how to perfectly put together a new recipe."
"Ever since I was a kid, I had periods when I would eat vegetarian. My parents were thankfully always supportive of this, being vegetarian wasn’t as common back then. A few years ago, we were away for a weekend and I saw a pig in a field laying comfortable in pool of mud – something you don’t see that often in The Netherlands. And from the moment I saw that pig I knew I was done eating meat. I don’t think everyone should be vegan or vegetarian, but I don’t understand why we in the wealthy West should have factory farming. I am against the way we treat not only each other, but especially animals, partly because they have no voice in it whatsoever. Think about it: if people would eat vegan food once a week the Paris climate agreement could be reached by most, if not all countries, then I don’t understand why the Dutch government doesn’t do anything with that information."
"With Food Bandits I always hope to inspire people, whether it is by helping you get more out of your camera or Instagram account, or by showing people you really don’t need animal products. And that even with numerous allergies or diet restrictions, you can still prepare the most delicious meals and cakes and enjoy them. If anything, it makes you more creative."
Have you noticed any changes in your body when changing to a vegan diet?
"Being vegetarian or vegan makes you more aware of what you eat and that’s the positive side of the current popularity of all those “health”-blogs. People start to think more about where their food is coming from and how it is produced. This is an important development, especially in relation to climate change. After all, there is only one world and we have to live on it together.
I’ve been a vegetarian for 10 years now and mostly vegan since 3 years back. Johann, on the other hand, is strictly vegan. We began eating vegan three years ago when we decided to have another close look on our diet. I have ME/CFS and because of that, I have a lot of issues with my health.
My New Roots and Kyra de Vreeze inspired me to look at what food was actually doing to my body. To what did my body react positively and to what negatively? I didn’t do it to get better – though that would be great – but to take better care of myself. By now, I’ve found a great creative challenge in eating vegetarian and vegan as well, and I’m also aware not every week is the same, although I truly cannot live with my kimchi anymore. I’ve also learned gluten is not for me."
What do you think about climate change?
"I think it’s a terrible how little is being done about it, although I have to say there are some great brands and concepts that truly work to have a positive effect on our environment. How design and concept work together in this is a great development too. But I mostly I find it disheartening how little political action there is. Especially for a country that is mostly below sea level, you’d think the whole issue would be high up on the agenda. You can be right or left, but climate change affects us all. And as long as we continue to do nothing, our children and grandchildren will be left with an even bigger problem. I often worry about this, but when I see people like Marieke Eyskoot, who bring together so many different brands and initiatives without being dull, then I realise again there are many more people who are willing to help others to overcome this problem."
What makes you happy?
"My husband Johann, my silly dachshund Moos and being surrounded by nature. I might sound a little hippie right now, but it’s all I really need. Although, I do still need Amsterdam for a good cup of coffee and some inspiration. And if I may add another cliché to this, then I know nothing is more important than my health! After all those years of dealing with my illness, I have learned that you can do so much more than you think you’re capable of."
Full Flavour Pear cake
This cake is cake is a true start of autumn to me. Pears are now in season and will become even more tasty over the next few weeks. The use of spices like cardemom, ginger and cinnamon brings a certain warmth and I love the look of the whole pears in the cake.
- 260 g buckwheat flour
- 50 g coconut blossom sugar
- 80 g agave or rice syrup
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp applecider vingar
- half a tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp cardemom
- 150 g coconut oil
- 120 g almond milk
- 2 vegan eggs, I use a powder version or 1 1/5 banana, mashed
- 3 to 4 pears, peeled
- pinch of salt
Preheat the oven at 170 degrees and prepare a baking tin with some coconut oil and baking parchement. Mix in a bowl the: buckwheat, sugar, baking soda and powder, cinnamon, ginger, cardemom and salt. Stir until well combined. Then mix the wet ingredients together; vanilla extract, vegan eggs, almond milk, applecider, syrup and the melted coconut butter. Pour the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until the batter is liquid and without any lumps. Place the pears in the middle of the tin and pour the batter into the tin. Bake the cake in the middle of the oven for40 minutes or until it is golden brown. Leave to cool and serve with a masala chai and enjoy!
All images copyright Food Bandits