Madeline Heising plans to fill her Thanksgiving dinner plate with heaping portions of green beans, maple roasted carrots, and candied cranberries. But oven-roasted turkey—the iconic symbol of the holiday feast—will be conspicuously absent.
Heising, AMD’14, has not consumed a singled piece of meat since she became a vegetarian at 10. At 19, she started practicing veganism, found that she enjoyed cooking more than ever before, and launched “The Collegiate Vegan,” a popular blog aimed at promoting quick and easy recipes for time-strapped college students.
“I didn’t know anything about nutrition nor cooking and created the blog to ask questions and look for recipes,” says Heising, a fifth-year communication studies major with a minor in food systems sustainability, health, and equity. “Within a month, I became the one answering questions and recommending recipes.”
Since then, her cachet in the food community has continued to soar. Last month, Heising published her debut eCookbook, FIVE: 50+ Plant-Based Recipes, Five Ingredients or Less; her blog received more than 30,000 page views; and Buzzfeed featured her recipe for skillet chickpeas and greens. Last week, she distributed four apple-based recipes at the kickoff event for Northeastern’s Global Entrepreneurship Week, in partnership with the alumni venture Fresh Truck, and The New York Times blogged about her 2012 Thanksgiving, in which she cooked up a feast in her campus apartment.
Her 2014 Thanksgiving plans include dinner in Boston and dessert in Richmond, Virginia, via Skype. She will dine with the family for whom she nannies, including two children who have developed a taste for garlicky foods. “The kids will eat pretty much anything with garlic,” Heising says, noting that one of the vegan dishes she will prepare for her gracious hosts is sautéed kale with the pungent-tasting bulb.
Following the feast, Heising will retreat to her apartment, where she will Skype with her family over coffee and dessert. Her menu will feature cinnamon sugar almonds and crustless pumpkin pie. “One of my favorite parts of the holidays is talking and sharing a cup of coffee,” Heising says. “You can do that even if you’re 600 miles apart.”
Her family supports her vegan lifestyle, but neither her parents nor her siblings plan to join her in the practice of abstaining from consuming animal products. “My brothers eat pretty much anything put in front of them and my dad is the king of the grill,” Heising says. “I can’t think of a day in which he hasn’t grilled some kind of meat.”