NEW YORK -- Isa Chandra Moskowitz, a vegan chef, does not particularly like to talk about tofu. Ditto seitan, tempeh and nutritional yeast.

"I think vegan cooks need to learn to cook vegetables first," she says. "Then maybe they can be allowed to move on to meat substitutes."

Moskowitz, 34, was born in Coney Island Hospital, lives in Brooklyn, and is a typically impatient and opinionated New Yorker. She can't stand how slowly most cooks peel garlic, makes relentless fun of Rachael Ray and rolls her eyes at the mention of California hippies.

But as a vegan and a follower of punk music since age 14, she is also part of a culinary movement that helped turn the chaotic energy of punk culture of the 1970s and 1980s into a progressive political force.

"Punk taught me to question everything," Moskowitz says. "Of course, in my case that means questioning how to make a Hostess cupcake without eggs, butter or cream."

The charm of Moskowitz -- in person, in her cookbooks and on her public-access television cooking show, the Post-Punk Kitchen ( -- is that she makes even the deprivations of veganism and the rage of punk seem like fun. Moskowitz's veganism embraces chocolate, white flour, confectioners' sugar and food coloring.
Many punks became vegetarian to protest corporate and government control of the food supply. Veganism takes vegetarianism farther into cruelty-free territory by avoiding anything produced by animals: milk, cheese, eggs, honey, etc.

"I would love to live in a world where I knew the eggs came from happy chickens," Moskowitz says. "But in Brooklyn? That's not going to happen. Besides, eggs are the big lie in baking. All the books say they provide structure, but that's kind of crap."
"I learned knife skills by cooking for Food not Bombs," she says, referring to the activist group that protests corporate and government food policy. "But I also learned to love Julia Child and Martha Stewart. Vegan food can and must be pretty," she says.

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