NEW YORK—When it comes to clean eating, Michelle Davis and Matt Holloway aren’t afraid of talking dirty. Their motto pretty much says it all:
“Eat like you give a (expletive).”
So goes the tone of “Thug Kitchen,” the pair’s wildly popular—and profoundly profane—vegan cooking blog that’s now given birth to a cookbook by the same name. Davis and Holloway, 29-year-old friends living in Los Angeles, launched the blog anonymously in 2012, mostly to amuse themselves (hence, all the swearing) and be creative.
“It didn’t occur to us” to use our names, Davis said in a recent interview. “It wasn’t something we were sharing around, and when it got popular we just kept it the way it was because (anonymity) had clearly worked.”
What really works is the pair’s disarmingly—some might argue alarmingly—rude admonishments to eat more produce. It’s a refreshing change from the usual soft, warm and fuzzy ethos that generally flavours the vegan cooking world. Which is to say, “Thug Kitchen” is as much trash talk as it is tofu.
Need another taste?
“You think you can’t live without meat every (expletive) day? Well, guess what? You can’t live with that (expletive) either, at least not for as long as you should,” they write in the book, which was released this week. “Eat like you give a (expletive) and your whole body will thank you.”
Davis and Holloway, who have since quit day jobs in retail to focus on “Thug Kitchen,” recently sat down to talk about the cookbook, their propensity for profanity, and why they want to buy Gwyneth Paltrow a drink.
Associated Press: Why do you use profanity in your writing?
Holloway: It was interesting to see how a lot of other blogs talk on their sites and the way that they describe their food. They have really beautiful photos and to have a nice photo and swear words next to that was really funny to us.
Davis: Yeah, and we swear on the site because we swear in real life. Why would we change that? The only way we’re gonna keep the project going is if we think it’s funny, so we had to make it easy on ourselves.
AP: At what point with the blog did you think, “Whoa, this isn’t just for us anymore! We have a following!”
Holloway: Probably when Gwyneth Paltrow mentioned us on “Rachael Ray” (as a food blog she follows) was so surprising to us. We had no idea that was coming.
Davis: That was super surreal.
Holloway: We were at our day jobs and we were getting emails from our readers being like, “Gwyneth just mentioned you on ‘Rachael Ray,”‘ and we just dismissed it like, “Ah, she was talking about something else. It’s not us. There’s no way.” When we actually saw the video clip it was so surreal.
Davis: Yeah, we’d better work a little harder (laughter). Our Google analytics crashed. We couldn’t even brag about (the number of page hits.) We owe Gwyneth a drink for sure.
Holloway: Our favourite (example of success is) when we checked the analytics one day was you can see the territories where people are reading the site and it was from a NASA Control Center…
Davis: In the middle of the Pacific Ocean and someone had shared it around the office…
Holloway: So there’s like 14 people at NASA reading our website and we’re like, “Guys, get to work.”
AP: A lot of people have food blogs and write cookbooks. What do you bring to this platform that’s different besides the gimmick of swearing and (previously) keeping your identities secret? What’s different about your approach to food?
Davis: I think we talk about it in a more relatable way. I remember the frustration of teaching myself to cook and what kind of roadblocks I would come against, so we try to acknowledge that in the recipes. I’ll be like, “I know this part is terrible but just keep going and you’re gonna get there” so people don’t feel like they’re alone in the struggle of trying to make themselves a healthy plate of food.