“When you think vegan, you think steamed brown rice next to tofu and covered with brown sauce… I want to make exciting, bright green … titillating food!”

Creating titillating food is chef and author Bryant Terry’s ambition. His cooking demonstration in the Pierson College dining hall on Monday afternoon was largely a conversation about his childhood in Memphis, the ways in which his life has been influenced by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., his views on food and agriculture, his books, his social work and his vision for the future. Cooking was a (delicious) afterthought.

Terry made sautéed collard greens with garlic, raisins and citrus — a choice that reflects his ethos of vegan, southern, “soul food” cooking, he said. He said he hopes to encourage the integration of healthy eating with traditional southern dishes through his cookbook-cum-manifesto, “Grub: Ideas for an Urban Organic Kitchen and Vegan Soul Kitchen,” and his youth foundation, “b-healthy! (Build Healthy Eating and Lifestyles to Help Youth).”

In a May 2009 review of Terry’s cookbook, The New York Times said of Terry: “This young food activist makes southern cooking healthy and cool.” We couldn’t agree more.