The holiday season comes with memories of food. And for Tiffany Hancock, those memories included a lot of meat, eggs and dairy.
“Sweet potato casseroles,” she recalls eating — and not just during the holidays. “You know, the fried chicken, the braised pork chops.”
The only problem? In recent years, Hancock started eating vegan.
It was Tiffany Hancock’s newborn that made her decide to shift her diet. She was nursing and noticed her youngest child was developing a bad case of eczema.
“So I did an elimination diet and … just decided to say, you know, ‘I can’t eat this, I can’t eat this.’ And I noticed about four days later that her skin cleared up,” Hancock told WPLN’s Movers & Thinkers. “And as soon as it did, I just was like, ‘You know, I’ve got to make this change. It’s not just for me; it’s for my child.’ ”
That meant no more meat, dairy or eggs — and certainly no more real braised pork.
“I needed to still be able to have my comfort foods — cooking a sweet potato pie. I’m so used to seeing, my grandmother would put butter and milk and eggs, and I’m like, ‘OK, what can I do?’ ” she says. The new recipes “kind of came natural for me just because I love to cook and I love to eat, so I know what things go together.”
After she realized she had a knack for adapting her favorite dishes, she decided to share them. She and her husband opened The Southern V, a restaurant in North Nashville that serves up vegan versions of her favorite Southern dishes, like fried chicken and macaroni and cheese.
And despite the changes in ingredients, Hancock says, the connection to her family through these recipes still feels strong.
“Every time I make a dish, I still think of my mother or my grandmother making the same dish. I know how I remember it tasting,” she says. “I kind of just know that they would say, ‘You need to add a little more oregano to that.’ They’re always there in that kind of way.”
This story is an excerpt of a Movers & Thinkers episode. Listen on our website or wherever you get your podcasts.