“Aladdin” star and author of “Evolving Vegan,” Mena Massoud is back in Home & Family’s kitchen making us a plant-based middle eastern favorite called Bamya. Click here for the recipe!
TORONTO — As immigrants from Egypt, “Aladdin” star Mena Massoud’s parents worked hard to establish themselves in any job they could get when they first moved the family to Markham, Ont.
His father, a satellite engineer in Cairo, first delivered pizzas in their new home city, then worked in a VHS factory and eventually managed a refurbishment centre for Rogers. His mother worked in a coffee shop.
They put in long hours on the job but when they got home, the whole family came together to relax in the kitchen and savour the aroma of his mom’s dishes: the fried onions and tomato sauce in her koshari; the cabbage of her mahashi; the eggplant in the moussaka.
“Our life at home very much revolved around food, and very much revolved around cooking,” Massoud said in an interview.
“My mom also had people over often. She was known to be one of the best cooks in our Egyptian community. So I really learned a lot from her just watching her.”
Massoud pays homage to his mother with his new cookbook, “Evolving Vegan” (Tiller Press), which has some of her traditional Egyptian, meat-free recipes as well as some of his own dishes from his plant-based diet he started in 2015.
Stemming from his Evolving Vegan company he founded in 2018, the book also has bits about his life and recipes inspired by plant-based restaurants in more than 10 cities he’s visited, including Toronto, Vancouver, San Francisco, Portland and New York.
“I wanted to show people that no matter where you travel in North America, or really the world, you can find plant-based options,” said Massoud, who also plans to create and host a travel food series stemming from “Evolving Vegan,” through his Press Play Productions.
Read the rest of the interview at the Times Colonist website!
On behalf of myself, The Mena Massoud Network visitors, and the rest of Mena’s fans, I would like to wish him a very happy 29th birthday! We all are wishing you a great year full of happiness, joy, love, luck, success, health and peace. And most importantly, thanks for being such an amazing person and inspiration to all of us.
The Aladdin star has an eye for a plant-based meal
Mena Massoud is a vegan, and although, thankfully, it’s not the first thing he’ll tell you about himself, he has written a book on the subject.
The Evolving Vegan is Massoud’s tribute to vegan culture, and sees him travel around America to meet the country’s best vegan chefs and try their dishes.
“Our mission is simple”, says the Evolving Food website. “It’s not about labels, it’s not about being a ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian’ or ‘omnivore’ – it’s about evolving. For the good of our fellow species, our planet and our health, we need to continue to evolve vegan.”
Massoud is an all round excellent human being. For the star of one of 2019’s highest grossing movies (Disney’s Aladdin), he’s still reassuringly unaffected. He’s a great sport, both literally and metaphorically (see him put through his paces with our pushy questions challenge) and his views on veganism are similarly grounded.
“Vegans do what they do, most them, because they care,” said Massoud. “They care about you, the care about the planer, the care about the animals, and it’s never a malicious thing or a pretentious thing, it’s more like, we’re trying to be better.
That he wants to help make the planet a better place to live is just another reason to like him. Currently in the middle of a book tour in North America, Evolving Vegan’s Instagram page is a treasure trove of delicious looking vegan meals. The sort of food that makes you hungry to look at.
Vegan naysayers be gone. There’s not a lettuce leaf burger-bun in sight. Instead, Massoud’s vegan curation is making us seriously consider adopting a plant-based diet.
I’ve updated the gallery by adding more photos from a portrait session Mena did for the release of Aladdin last year, as well as more outtakes from a photoshoot for 1883 magazine. Enjoy!