Choosing a cookbook
A cookbook can make the perfect gift for someone who is moving toward a plant-based diet. With an abundance to choose from these days, we thought we’d give you some tips and suggestions to guide your selection, whether it’s for you, a family member, or a friend who just needs a little nudge to get started!
We recommend you choose a good vegan cookbook, avoiding all animal products. Some people will appreciate the extra creativity and adventure of a cookbook that uses only plant foods for ingredients. Others will appreciate recipes that are healthy, save the animals and protect the environment.
For a good all-round cookbook that includes lots of variety, from simple to gourmet, as well as many ethnic dishes from all over the world, we highly recommend our own Veg-Feasting Cookbook! This is a restaurant cookbook, with recipes from veg-friendly restaurants all over the Pacific Northwest, plus some special recipes from Vegfest chefs, so it has plenty to captivate the reader while covering all the bases. Most ingredients are familiar, and recipes are often adaptations of old favorites, so it’s a valuable cookbook for all levels of experience.
Cookbooks designed for students can vary from those using from scratch ingredients to those which include some ready to nuke and eat ingredients. Note for students: cooking from scratch can save you a lot of money and the food might just taste a bit better. For those on a tight budget, Eat Vegan on $4 a day by Ellen Jaffe Jones, is an excellent cookbook with lots of money saving hints and tips. It shows how to get the best flavor out of simple, affordable, but high quality ingredients, using whole foods such as grains, beans, fruits and vegetables to create delicious meals.
At the other end of the spectrum, for those chefs who want to produce gourmet vegan dishes, Extraordinary Vegan by Allan Roettinger is an excellent introduction to unique ingredients that make a dish really special. With dishes such as Piña Quemada Ice Cream and Edamame Salad with Penang Curry, this is a book to entice the chef to take the time to perfect the flavors and textures of vegan cooking.
For the health focused cook, a whole-foods plant-based cookbook, which doesn’t overdo the salt, oil and sugar, is a great choice. Ramses Bravo, the chef from the True North Health Kitchen, provides delicious recipes that are at the core of a food-based treatment strategy to help regulate weight and safeguard against disease. His cookbooks combine simple, fresh wholesome ingredients that are converted into gourmet meals filled with color and nutrition. Choose either his original cookbook, Bravo, or for those pressed for time, his more recent Bravo Express.
New meat and dairy substitutes are readily available and increasingly popular these days. For those cooks who want to experiment with making their own, Miyoko Schinner’s Artisan Vegan Cheese provides an insight into how she creates those delicious cheesy flavors from plant-based ingredients. For readers who want to whip up something quick, Miyoko provides recipes for almost-instant ricotta and sliceable cheeses, in addition to a variety of tangy dairy substitutes, such as vegan sour cream, creme fraiche, and yogurt.
This is just a brief introduction to the range of available vegan cookbooks. Look carefully at the style of cuisine, the types of ingredients used, the complexity of the recipes, and any other features, and you’ll be sure to find the perfect cookbook for your needs.