Imagine this scene: you're in the kitchen, cooking up a big dinner of black-eyed peas, pickled mustard greens, and candied sweet potatoes, listening to the soulful voice of Nina Simone.
It's a feast for your family and for your ears. But you might notice there's something missing from the menu — meat.
Chef and author Bryant Terry says you don't need a big hunk of meat on your plate to complete your meal. In an interview with NPR's Michel Martin, Terry says his goal isn't to convert readers to veganism, but to encourage them to eat more plant-based foods.
"The American diet is too heavily meat-centered," says Terry.
Terry first burst onto the food scene with his cookbook, Vegan Soul Kitchen. Now he's out with a new cookbook, The Inspired Vegan: Seasonal Ingredients, Creative Recipes, Mouthwatering Menus.
He says vegan food isn't for everyone, but it's a tool to help create a healthy diet and prevent chronic pain and illness. He takes this message to communities with high rates of obesity. But too often, he says, African-American and Latino kids respond with one statement: "That's white people's food."
"So many communities just have very little access to healthful sustainable food," says Terry. "They're what people describe as food deserts."
By food deserts, he means neighborhoods that have only what he calls "the worst food sources" — fast food restaurants, corner stores and liquor stores.