Ryan loves food, pedals, and equality
I feel that if you stripped all the other layers away, we, human beings, would still create.
3-4 medium ripe avocados, seeded and peeled
1 large lime, juiced
2-4 cloves of garlic, smashed
2 jalapeños, chopped
1 bunch of cilantro
pinch of cracked salt and pepper
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
2 tbsp of sriracha
pinch of wasabi
pineapple or mango, chopped
pico de gallo
Place avocado pulp and lime juice in large mortar and mash them together with a pestle. (Alternatively, you may use a large bowl and a potato masher.)
When well constituted and smooth, add in garlic, jalapeño, cilantro, and salt and pepper. For added kick, add sriracha and/or wasabi here. Fold ingredients in. Let stand for about five minutes.
Finally, add the red onions and mix them in. You can also add some pineapple or mango and/or pico de gallo here.
Serve with fresh cilantro for garnish.
About being vegan:
RV: I stopped eating meat when I was almost fifteen. I had curiously wandered into a slaughterhouse and watched a cow be bled out. I haven’t consumed red meat since that day. The bridge to veganism was a little longer. Over the course of two years I researched factory farming and the dairy industry and arrived at the realization that I was not okay with any of it. I do not view meat and dairy as food anymore honestly.
AH: I have read a lot about veganism and it seems very beneficial for the health of not only the human body but also the lives of animals, can you explain your feelings on this subject? Human health vs. animal lives. How they intertwine and of the two which is more important to you?
RV: As stated before, I am entirely vegan for the benefit of the animals, but that being said I do believe that there are copious health benefits from a plant-based diet. A proper vegan diet has been proven to promote high metabolism and immune system response as well as greatly decrease the likelihood of developing cancers, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. Ultimately, it is a lifestyle that most benefits me and the world around me.
AH:For anyone who is interested in becoming vegetarian/vegan what tips/tricks/ advice would you share with them?
RV: Without sounding too preachy on the subject, I recommend that everyone go watch the documentary Earthlings. It really puts our effect on the world we inhabit into perspective. The only other bit I can offer would be to research and find out for yourself. PETA and peta2 are great resources for beginners. There are also countless blogs that you can easily find online.
AH: I have had your cooking and it is seriously amazing. Have you always been interested in cooking? How did you begin cooking? Who has inspired you?
RV: Thank you! I guess it started when I was young and I’d watch my mother cook dinner most nights. It was always fascinating to me. I would try to help her in the kitchen and she would teach me how to prepare some things. Eventually, I started cooking on my own and made a lot of terrible dishes until I settled and learned “proper” techniques.
My mother is easily my biggest inspiration. She has always been eager to try new things and was very supportive of me when I stopped eating meat. She also makes the best traditional Thai food out of anyone not originally from Thailand.
I’m not heavily into cooking shows, but I have been obsessed with The Vegan Zombie for years. I also really like Roberto Martin and Chloe Coscarelli.
AH: Do you follow many recipes or do you usually just whip something up ?
RV: Early on, I never used recipes. After I went vegan, I got a few cookbooks as gifts and I would look at them for inspiration but I rarely would follow the exact ingredients. More recently, I have been baking more and I have been more closely following recipes for cakes, muffins, and things like that.
Check out minimalistbaker.com for awesome, inspiring recipes.
AH: what are some of your favorite places to find fresh produce/ vegan friendly foods/ etc?
RV: Shopping is a lot easier now than when I first became vegetarian. Fake meats and dairy-free foods are available everywhere now. Living in the south is both a blessing and a curse. There are fresh produce stands in almost every town. There are also several heath food stores that I frequent. As far as big organic stores go though, I have to travel 30+ miles to the nearest ones. Local grocery stores and Walmart combined with heath food stores and produce stands are where I do the majority of my shopping.
AH: Do you ever feel limited as a vegan?
RV: I would not say limited in sense of cooking. I feel it actually opens me up to a whole other world of dishes. Say you were to have a drum set and you take away everything but the kick drum and the snare or that you were going to paint but only had two colors, you would approach those very differently than you would otherwise.
As far as traveling goes, I am a little more limited. Not being able to cook for myself as well as save money are harder on the road.
AH: You don't just cook, you are also a creative, musician, and pedal building machine. Tell me a little bit about how you became involved with building pedals. Do you have a lot of pedals? What are the benefits of building your own pedals? What about the pedal boards? How can people get them?
RV: Well, I am admittedly kind of a nerd about anything I enjoy so naturally that stretched over to guitar gear. My involvement in working on pedals came more out of necessity than interest. I used to break a lot of things when I was younger. I did get interested later in how they worked and trying to figure out how to replicate existing circuits. My first design came because I have an old pedal that is not very conducive to playing live with and wasn't exactly built to modern standards. I own roughly forty pedals currently with every intention of getting more. I feel that there is a song inside every effect pedal. Getting new stuff inspires new riffs or techniques.
Building and designing my own pedals has been beneficial in that I have every choice into what goes into it. Whether it be an existing design I want to improve on or change to my own liking or something entirely new and crazy.
I have also built a few hardwood pedalboards with my friend, Cody Gilbert, who I'm also in band with. We want to build some more in the future, as well as some guitar and bass cabinets for amplifiers. All of this has been entirely a hobby so far. We may do some stuff in the future, but we will see. As of now, I've just been personally taking pedal orders via my email and social media.
AH: Tell me about your band, Elska, solo stuff ,working in the studio, etc.
RV: I’m in a experimental rock band called Men and Mountains. I mainly play guitar and sing, but I attempt to play keys and percussion sometimes. We are currently working on our first full length and I am very excited for it. I also make music under the name Elska, which has been all instrumental up to this point. I plan to work on a record for this project after the Men and Mountains record is finished.
I have helped out my friend, Lucas Smith, in his studio on a few sessions and I would like to get more into music production. Creating music is where I feel most content. There is an honest, innocent joy in it. I feel that if you stripped all the other layers away, we, human beings, would still create.
AH: A bit off subject, I wanted to ask you to share about your beliefs toward feminism. I speak openly about being a feminist on my blog and have been eager to include some similar feelings. What are you opinions on equality in general, and specifically women?
RV: I self-identity as a feminist. As a white male, I shouldn't have anything easier than any other person. In the area I live (and a lot of the world), women are conditioned to marry and have kids from the earliest ages. They're taught to look and act a certain way. To be frank, fuck gender norms. The amount of pressure we put on women and men due to them is atrocious. People kill themselves over it. I do feel that we are on an upward trajectory regarding equality though. Our culture is changing. My hope is that some aspects of modern feminism don't hurt the whole movement. There's some negativity floating around and that bums me out, but I see more good than bad coming from it.