A Love of Food, Photos, and Plants: Interview with Timothy Pakron of Mississippi Vegan

We had a chance to chat with Timothy Pakron, cookbook author of Mississippi Vegan, as well as a writer, photographer, and gardener who shares his love of Southern food through his perspective as a vegan home cook. We discuss his path to create Mississippi Vegan (the blog) and eventually the cookbook, his approach to developing accessible recipes, and celebrate what it means to be gay and vegan in the South.

First, tell us a bit about how you first got into cooking and sharing recipes.

My journey started as a young boy growing up in Mississippi. I was always fascinated by plants, mushrooms, and being creative. I had a big appetite, and I learned pretty early on that I was a bit more excited about food than most. I first started cooking in the 6th grade when I would make cookies for my teachers (or rather, the ones that I liked!). As a teenager, I would observe my mom in the kitchen and would watch different cooking shows on the Food Network, oftentimes trying my hand at what sparked my interest. As I grew older, I would cook food for my friends in high school, and I loved it. It wasn’t until college when I went vegan that I remember people started asking me for recipes, which was exciting for me! I had definitely gained a reputation for making delicious vegan food, and that made me proud.


How did Mississippi Vegan get started, and how has it evolved over the past few years?

When I was living in NYC in my late 20’s, I noticed that many people were sharing their perspective of food on social media and a friend convinced me to start my Instagram (@mississippivegan). I immediately noticed that people were interested in what I was cooking. I merged my passion for creativity and cooking with my photography skills, something I studied as a studio art major in college. I started to learn more and more about food styling and food photography, and I realized that it was the perfect combination of everything that I love.

After just a few years, I had built a substantial following and started hosting pop up dinners in Brooklyn. It was around that time a literary agent reached out and asked me if I wanted to write a cookbook. I wrote the proposal in one week and a month later I had landed a deal and moved back down to Mississippi to write my debut cookbook! It was a crazy whirlwind, but I knew that I had to be back in my home state and out of the hustle and bustle of the city to really focus on such an important project. Once I finished the book, I decided to move to New Orleans as it has always been such a strong inspiration for my food, and I just love the energy here.


How have you approached creating vegan versions of traditional Southern food? And how did people react to your decision to become vegan as someone that grew up in the South?

Oh, gosh, of course the family had some pushback! I think they all thought I was crazy! But, over time, they realized that it wasn’t just a phase and that I was very passionate about veganism (18 years vegan at this point!). It was honestly through my social media presence that they could see my recipes come to life in a big way! No one can really ask me, ‘What do you eat as a vegan?’ or ‘Do you only eat salads?’ anymore. They can clearly take a peep at my Instagram, blog, or cookbook and see all of the fabulous foods I eat! I am so thankful for that. It has truly made veganism more visible and accessible than ever before. And all of my success has made my family proud.

I have always felt that there is an undercurrent of veganism within Southern food. That’s what my whole first cookbook is about! What I try to do is celebrate the ingredients that are already plant- and mushroom-based and make them the star of the show! When someone takes a bite of hearty mushroom gumbo with sautéed collard greens, bay leaf baked rice, and fresh drop biscuits, I assure you that they won’t care that it’s vegan and will also agree that it’s deliciously Southern!


Tell us about your next cookbook in the works, and how it will differ from your first book.

I would say the biggest thing that has changed from when I first started my brand to today is that instead of predominantly going to farmers markets and foraging, I now have a massive garden that inspires me greatly. Don’t get me wrong, I still love supporting local farms and sourcing wild ingredients, but these past few years I have really tapped into my love for growing food and showcasing my garden within my content. It has deepened my relationship with plants and that is precisely what my next cookbook is all about. It’s called Garden Variety, a vegetable-focused cookbook, and it is coming out in 2026!

My relationship with plant-based ingredients has become incredibly strong, and I feel more connected to vegetables than ever before. When you grow something from seed and harvest it to use in a recipe, there’s something so satisfying about it. Because I style and shoot all of my own photos, my work is very special to me. But for this next book, because I am incorporating ingredients fresh from the garden on top of styling, shooting, and editing the images, it makes it even more personal than the first book. The final product will be a direct extension of my heart. I can’t wait for you to see it!


How has your identity as a member of the LGBTQ+ community shaped your life path and creative work?

I am a proud gay man, and I am even more proud to be a gay vegan man from Mississippi! I know that this may seem like an odd combination to many, but that’s exactly why I am so passionate about sharing who I am. I grew up hearing that I was going to go to hell quite a bit. I felt pressure to suppress my feelings and to change who I was. But as I grew older, I learned that all of the things that I was made fun of for or was made to feel bad about when I was younger are what people celebrate about me today. I now have an amazing career for being exactly who I am — an openly gay, creative vegan who is proud to be from Mississippi! And I couldn’t be happier about it.

Who inspires you? Do you have any culinary heroes that shaped your path?

I would have to say my mom and dad! Growing up, my mom was always cooking, and my dad was always gardening. Both of these things are literally what I do for my career now, and it all revolves around celebrating food in a creative way. Now, how cool is that!?