About Me

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My interests include veganism and vegetarianism, health, ethics, politics and culture, media, and the environment. I have three kids; I teach college part-time, study piano and attempt to garden. I knit. I blog on just about anything, but many posts are related to my somewhat pathetic quest to eat better, be more mindful of the environment, and be a more responsible news consumer. Sometimes I write about parenting, but, like so many Mommy bloggers, my kids have recently told me not to. :) Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Favorite Vegan Cookbooks

One of the toughest things about switching one's diet is learning to cook new dishes.  I've written about this before; it's particularly challenging to go vegan if you were not particularly much of a cook to begin with.

Going vegan has MADE me learn to cook.  Or at the very least, to cook better and more often than I did before. And that is definitely a good thing.

Before veganism, I would have had to warn you "Forgo eating that and the life you save may be your own".  Gladly, I no longer feel compelled to prevent people from eating my cooking.

One of you asked if I'd write a quick post about my favorite vegan cookbooks.  Gladly!

I really like Isa Chandra Moscowitz and Terry Hope Romero's Veganomicon:  The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook.  Most things that call themselves the "ultimate" anything make me leery.  Really -- are you THAT good?

In this case, yes.  The title is well-deserved.  Do you (or did your mother) have Rombauer and Becker's The Joy of Cooking?  Well, if you're familiar with that title, you'll know that, seriously, no conventional kitchen should be without it.  (I have that cookbook too, and occasionally take recipes from it and "veganize" them by, for instance, substituting applesauce for eggs or Earth Balance margarine for butter.)

Moscowitz and Romero's book is the vegan equivalent of The Joy of Cooking

I like how they've organized the book.  I LOVE how complete their glossary is.  I love how they have sections for cooking idiots like me ("how to cook a vegetable," "how to cook a grain,"  "stocking the veganomicon pantry") and how they have recipes coded for those short on time (45 minutes or less), as well as for those looking for gluten-free, soy-free, low-fat, or my favorite, "supermarket friendly".

By "supermarket friendly," they mean you should be able to find the ingredients at an average market, rather than at some overpriced, out of the way, health food, organic crazy, specialist market.  (For the record, I also shop at those places, too.)  In any case, their "supermarket friendly" recipes do not call for, for instance, nutritional yeast, vital wheat gluten, or pink Himalayan sugar.  Not that there is anything wrong with recipes that do, mind you.  But if you're looking for something to cook that takes under 45 minutes AND whose ingredients should be readily available, all you need to do is look for the recipes marked with the grocery cart icon and "45".

They also have pithy, kinda perky little introductions before each recipe.  For instance, their "Mediterranean-Style Baked Lima Beans" (soy- and gluten-free, supermarket friendly) begins with "You may have lima bean baggage but this recipe will help you work through it".  (Technically, there's a typo in that sentence in my edition of the cookbook, but heck -- there's charm in typos too!) I love their attitude.  If you read the cookbook (I've been known to read cookbooks like other people read novels), you feel you *know* the authors by the end. 

I cannot claim I do, but it's nice to feel that way. 

The book has hundreds of recipes; I've loved all of the ones I've made ("Lower Fat Banana Bread," " Potato and Kale Enchiladas with Roasted Chile Sauce," "Almesan," "Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Mango," "Sauteed Collards" and "Smoky Grilled Tempeh"). 

Another vegan cookbook I really like is Skinny Bitch in the Kitch, by (who else?) Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin.  If you've read their Skinny Bitch book, you already know about their legendary attitude.  These women don't mince words, but that's OK -- each recipe is pretty short and to the point, and they claim that if you eat their recipes you can "keep your SB standards and eat like a whale".  I haven't tried that approach, but as they say, "shit, yeah!" 

If you try eating vegan food "like a whale" and still remain skinny, let me know.  Then I might try. :)

From that cookbook, I've made tofu ricotta, which is surprisingly acceptable in a lasagne.  I've made their pancakes and used their basic fruit smoothie recipe.  I've made their lasagne and their fettuccine alfredo as well as the hummus, tempeh and cucumber wrap.  All the recipes were easy to make and GOOD. 

The only *slight* criticism of that book is that it doesn't lay open easily (the Veganomicon does).  Still, it's a small, very portable cookbook with, really, all the basic vegan versions of your favorite foods (lasagnes, sandwiches, pancakes, cookies, soups, salads, PMS foods).  It's good.

Finally, I really like Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's The Vegan Table.  It is arguably more gourmet than the other two.  The pictures alone are gorgeous (the Veganomicon has nice pictures, too).  Her book is organized by occasions ("Cozy Coupling," "Fun with Friends," " Honoring Traditions," etc.).  She has also organized, within each section, recipes by season.  Finally, she also has nutritional analysis of each recipe (per serving).  I LOVE THAT (the other two books do not provide this). Finally, each recipe tells you whether it is soy-, oil-, or gluten-free.

From her cookbook, I have made "Dark Leafy Greens with Sesame Miso Dressing," "Pasta and Green Beans with Peanut Sauce," "Aloo Gobi," "Soba Noodle Soup," and "Cuban Black Bean Soup".  All were delicious.

Although they are not cookbooks, I highly recommend the websites girliegirlarmy.com and postpunkkitchen.com (the latter is Moscowitz's site).  The website takebackthekitchen is also commendable (and funny!), though not specifically vegan (many of her recipes are, however).

What vegan cookbooks do you like? Where do you find your vegan recipes?  Or, how do you veganize your "traditional" ones?


  1. I agree that if you are going to pursue a vegan diet, you will be making a lot of your own food. I also think accessibility to ingredients is key. I was disappointed Alicia Silverstone's cookbook (which I didn't buy) contained so many harder to find or pricey ingredients. For the masses, you really want to include what people have easy access to.

    Instead of cookbooks, I love all the recipe resources on the web. Almost all the animal rights groups (Humane Society, Farm Sanctuary, Mercy for Animals, etc.) have great recipes.

    PETA has a very easy to use site I love: http://www.vegcooking.com/

    You can browse by meal type, cuisine type, etc., and they also have festive holiday/seasonal ideas.

  2. As you know I'm new to this whole venture, but I have fallen in love with Veganomicon! Great book for a beginner. The initial cookbooks and recipes I browsed were mostly daunting and called for ingredients I had never heard of or much less could obtain easily. And although I have always cooked, I find that this type of diet sometimes requires certain ways of cooking with which I'm not very familiar. Frustrating. But then I saw a mention of Veganomicon somewhere (I think it might actually have been here) and decided to order the book. So glad I did! It has been extremely helpful, just in the couple weeks or so that I've had it. The "supermarket friendly" stuff is absolutely my favorite as well.

    Thanks for the other recommendations, I'll be sure to try them out as I become more comfortable. My foray into trying to "veganize" my traditional recipes has been hit and miss (soy milk pudding!), so hopefully that will get better with time as well.

  3. You have probably already found this recipe but I cam across it today while searching for soups and thought you might like it:



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