Craig and Shaun McAnuff didn’t grow up eating a lot of vegan meals. On the contrary, being of Jamaican origin meant that meat was very important in the diet of the two brothers.
But when Shaun, 35, tried veganism for a week in 2017, it completely changed the family’s life.
Now they have a one of a kind vegan Caribbean cookbook coming out.
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“I wanted it to be a week,” Shaun explained.
“But it lasted a year because I loved it so much. It’s something new, and I love new things. I love new challenges.
“My mom saw this, and my brother saw it, and they jumped on the same wave too.”
Craig, 32, and Shaun’s mother suffer from type 2 diabetes, which Shaun says is particularly prevalent in Caribbean communities, and it inspired them to cook with different ingredients.
Shaun said, “Mom lost a lot of weight [and is] feel good. This experience I had with vegan food definitely changed the way we eat, the way we think and the way we cook as well.
Both brothers have always been involved in the nourishment of their house on all levels.
“We’ve always loved food,” Craig said. “Setting the tables, doing the boring chores, doing the dishes and all that – and of course eating it too.
“We always wanted to help mom and grandmother in the kitchen. They were always there, cooking for everyone, without really taking a break. “
The two brothers are incredibly close to their mother and grandmother, who taught them everything they know about Caribbean cuisine from their family home in Croydon.
“Born and raised in Thornton Heath, we have been influenced by so many Jamaican shops, food stalls and markets. It strengthened our love for cooking, ”Shaun said.
“Not just the food on the plate, but the process – going to the market, meeting the guy who sells the fruits and veg, meeting the bakery guy, producing the food overnight, then on the plate on Sunday.
“We fell in love with the process. Its very important for us.
He added, “Our mother and grandmother are our greatest inspirations. They are the reason we are here.
That’s when the brothers started creating recipe videos and sharing them on Facebook – and Original Flava was born.
Their very first video racked up a million likes, and now they have 486,000 subscribers on the platform.
Their second Natural Flava cookbook has just been released – but this one is completely vegan.
But none of them eat vegan all the time, defining themselves as “flexitarians”.
“It’s not just for vegans,” Shaun said. “It’s for everyone.”
Craig said, “We’re very creative with this now, merging a lot of different recipes from our upbringing to our culture, to different cultures as well.
“The thing about Caribbean food is that it’s ‘Out Of Many One People’ – that’s the Jamaican national motto.
“So there’s a lot of inspiration from different countries in Jamaica, and it shows in the food as well. “
The book features everything from plantain cookies to Guinness punch, as well as vegan meat alternatives like banana blossom-based fried chicken, cauliflower burgers, and meatless kebabs.
The two chefs now have children of their own – and they grow up to love vegetables even more than meat.
But the brothers didn’t just set out to make vegan food accessible; they want to change the face of the food world.
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Craig said, “We want to help our next generation, people who are like us. We also want to show black kids, especially those who maybe don’t see a lot of people like us in the food industry, to show them that they can.
“Disadvantaged children, or from disadvantaged backgrounds who have no training in cooking or a certain type of family, to show them that they can do it too.
“And we just want to create more amazing memories for people, whether it’s online, in restaurants, etc.” We want to do so much more. “
He laughed: “But we can’t reveal everything!
Original Flava is out today (January 6) in a hardback version. You can buy it here or sign up for their Supper Club in London this month here.
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