Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.
Dreamy Leaf (dreamyleaf.com) promotes a plant-based way of eating through simple, tasty recipes and mouthwatering photography. The blog’s founder and creator, Maya Sozer, is the author of Easy Vegan Breakfasts & Lunches: The Best Way to Eat Plant-Baed Meals on the Go. We caught up her to find out the story behind her success.
VT: Why the name “Dreamy Leaf”?
I wish there was a profound story, but there isn’t, really! We love the feeling “Dreamy Leaf” carries—that it makes you think of dreams, green, freedom, being small but substantial.
VT: You’ve said you draw your inspiration from your Mediterranean roots. Where exactly in the Mediterranean are you from? Do you have any favorite foods from your family heritage?
My family roots pass through Cyprus and the Mediterranean coast of Turkey. But my permanent home is in the United States. Artichoke dishes were a specialty in my family. My favorite part of the Mediterranean cuisine, and my culinary heritage, is what we literally called the “olive oil dishes.” They happen to be mostly plant based; a large variety of them involve a huge spectrum of vegetables. They are typically enjoyed cold, and some versions like stuffed bell peppers and dolma have made it out to the world..
VT: Are you still cooking professionally?
I was a professional chef in two different restaurants in Palo Alto, California, for about two years. One of those two places was a wine restaurant in a converted Victorian house with a beautiful yard, and the unique thing was that the menu changed every week. I was one of the two chefs designing the menu, creating the recipes, and executing them. I was also responsible for creating a daily vegan special. Exhausting, but it forced so much creativity and I’m glad I had that experience. The other was a Mediterranean restaurant, and I developed specialty recipes for them. Both restaurants were conventional, and I wasn’t vegan at the time.
VT: What brought you over to the vegan lifestyle?
I had been averse to meat all my life, but, still, I was a meat eater. What triggered the change was seeing the farm animals’ suffering one too many times. I just couldn’t be a part of it anymore. My other half felt the same, so we made the change together. We were vegans overnight, and it felt incredible. I couldn’t see myself working in a conventional restaurant after that, so I decided to create my blog and social-media accounts. Drawing from my visual arts background, I sought to create attractive food and photography in the hopes of inspiring others, just as I’d been inspired by so many brilliant bloggers and Instagram foodies.
VT: How would you describe your blog to a first-time visitor?
It has become a great resource for a wide variety of creative, vegan recipes, with a general focus on practicality, nutrition, and beauty… as well as taste, of course.
VT: What’s the one thing you hope people to take away from Dreamy Leaf?
My drive in doing this is for people to notice how innately attracted we are to plant food. The ultimate takeaway would be encouragement to try a plant-based recipe. At the very least, that would be saving an animal’s life right there. But I do also hope to demonstrate the wide selection of delicious and healthy food we get to enjoy in the realm of plant-based cuisine. I hope to help associate attractive food with vegan food.