Vegan fare is often discredited for lacking heft and flavour. No meat? No cheese? Well, it's going to taste like cardboard then, isn't it? It's an assumption that gets gleefully bandied about by staunch, defensive carnivores, but it's not one you can level at plant-based YouTuber Rachel Ama.

The London-based home cook-turned-purveyor-of-vegan-recipes calls her debut cookbook her "mix and blend". Its actual title is Rachel Ama's Vegan Eats - and it's a compendium of the food she grew up eating, just veganised, without stripping out taste or nutrition.

"My heritage is African, Caribbean and Welsh," she explains, noting that, growing up in London, and being in and out of friends' houses, she's "always been around such a diverse range of food and spices and cultures. I really wanted to explore that in a vegan way."

Think crispy jerk BBQ tacos with plantain and mango salsa, Caribbean jackfruit fritters, coconut turmeric flatbreads, miso-glazed aubergines, curry roasted cauliflower and African peanut stew - the latter of which is a veganised version of one of her mum's favourite dishes from Sierra Leone.

African and Caribbean food, says Ama, "lends itself really well" to being plant-based. Firstly because of the seasonings built into the myriad styles that feature in these cuisines, and also because "in a lot of places in Africa and the Caribbean, plant-based eating isn't [considered] so crazy".

Ama also focuses on whole foods, spices and herbs ("and deliciousness!"), so don't expect recipes using substitutes like seitan - "which is great, I just wanted to stick to vegetables that you can get in the supermarket," she notes.

The strangest ingredient you'll find in the book shouldn't be too daunting either: "It isn't a must-have, it's an option - there's black salt which just creates an eggy flavour - but you don't have to have it!"

A post-university trip around South America and the States triggered Ama's enthusiasm for cooking ("I remember my mum being like, 'Ooh, look at you in the kitchen making all this food'. I was like, 'Yeah, what?' Haha!"). But she hasn't always been vegan.

In fact, despite her mum wanting to raise her and her brother vegetarian ("It was looked down on, so she didn't do it"), Ama "ate chicken a lot" and didn't have any friends who were vegan or vegetarian. "I was a KFC junkie, that was me, it was real."

Then, struck by a Netflix documentary, she "went vegan overnight".

She recalls: "It was just one of those moments. Suddenly I was like, 'Oh, now I'm seeing how the food is ending up on my plate, I just don't really want to be a part of it anymore'."

And no, she doesn't miss KFC. "I thought I might, I don't, and when I do have those cravings to eat fried, fatty, delicious food, there are vegan places I can go to for that, which is incredible. When I need my fix, I know where I can go find it."

And while life without KFC could have been a difficult adjustment, missing cheese hasn't been a factor. "There's stuff that tastes creamy and really delicious, but [vegan] cheese is one that hasn't been quite figured out, but that's fine for me," she says. "I'm so lactose intolerant, I actually hate cheese!"

Aside from a decent amount of chicken and home-cooked food, growing up, "music was always being played". In fact, Ama, who is still surrounded by guitars and piano, had planned on a career in A&R, and her brother produces his own music.

"For me, cooking with music was just a natural thing to do," she explains, which is why you'll find song recommendations alongside the recipes: Roasted beets and butternut squash tahini calls from All Night Long by Faith Evans (feat P. Diddy); chickpea ratatouille for Mother May I Sleep With Danger? by Joy Crookes.

"So, if anyone's a music head like me," says Ama, "it touches on different senses of sound and taste, it brings the whole enjoyment together, and hopefully that will give people a bit more than just cooking."

Her relaxed approach is reflected in how she hopes to help spread veganism too. She's absolutely not militant - any uptake is welcome, whether you're just intrigued by vegan menu options, been thinking about animal welfare, are considering the health benefits, or feel concerned at the environmental impact of the meat and dairy industries.

"A lot of people have been like, 'OK, I'll just start eating some more plants'. They're not necessarily saying, 'I'm going to go vegan, but maybe on these days of the week, we're going to do plant-based meals' - and hopefully those people can get some inspiration from me on the way," she muses.

Her aim is to just encourage more people to incorporate plant-based and vegan meals into their diet, and to do that "naturally and not feel pressured or scared. I just want it to be, like: 'Want to try out a vegan recipe? Come hang out where I am, I have got one for you!'

"Try it, if you love it, you've got a staple recipe you can make for your family," she says. "That's the goal."

Rachel Ama's Vegan Eats: Tasty Plant-based Recipes For Every Day by Rachel Ama, photography by Haarala Hamilton, is published by Ebury priced £20. Available now.