The Ultimate Vegan Guide-Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Cookbooks

After reading the previous chapter, I hope you’ve committed yourself to trying as many new vegan foods as possible. One of the best ways to sample a constant stream of new foods is to get busy in the kitchen trying out new recipes. But all recipes are not created equal, so this chapter will be about helping you find the ones most worthy of your time.

I have good reason for bringing up this subject so early in this book. The sooner I can turn you on to some great sources of recipes, the quicker you’ll gain confidence that switching to a vegan diet is not a big deal. So, the question is, how do you find tasty vegan recipes that won’t force you to spend all afternoon slaving away in the kitchen?

Maybe the best place to start is with the recipes section that I’ve published at Vegan.com, since these recipes are free and are hand-picked favorites from some of the best cookbook authors publishing today. After checking out these recipes, you might be tempted to get all your recipes online. After all, there are seemingly millions of recipes available for free on the Internet. A quick Internet search using the keywords vegan recipes will return enough such recipes to keep you busy in the kitchen for decades.

As tempting as it may be to get all your recipes for free, I urge you not to waste time trying random recipes you’ve found online. Instead, you’ll be much better off spending ten or twenty dollars on a great vegan cookbook.

But isn’t it throwing money away to pay for a cookbook when the Internet offers thousands and thousands of vegan recipes for free? Well, let’s step back and think for a minute about the nature of Internet publishing. Perhaps the most amazing thing about the Web is that anyone, at essentially no cost, can publish anything online for all the world to see. And just as anyone can publish anything online, the Internet allows for the publication of any recipe, no matter how great or how dreadful. And is a free recipe really a bargain if you’ve invested five or ten dollars in food, spent an hour or two in the kitchen, and at the end of it your meal doesn’t turn out right? No, if you’re going to take the time and expense to cook something, it’s insane to use a recipe you can’t count on to produce terrific results.

There are undoubtedly some fantastic recipes online, but it’s often impossible to pick them out from the slew of second-rate offerings.

So what I suggest is that you cook exclusively from vegan cookbooks. With that said, I’ve got yet another word of warning: there are plenty of mediocre vegan cookbooks out there. I’ve seen vegan cookbooks with recipes that violate even the most elementary cooking principles.

The problem here is that very few cookbook publishers take the trouble and expense to test every recipe in a cookbook before publication. Fortunately, though, professionalism does exist within the cookbook industry, you just have to find authors who care enough to obsessively test their recipes until they’re perfect. Those authors are out there. They include folks like Robin Robertson, Nava Atlas, Mark Reinfeld, Ani Phyo, and Jennifer Raymond. Buy any cookbook from any of these people, open to a random page, and you can be certain the recipe will turn out just right.

So let me suggest what I consider the perfect first vegan cookbook to buy: Quick-Fix Vegetarian by Robin Robertson. Every recipe in this cookbook is simple and straightforward, and most take less than thirty minutes to prepare.

It’s common for new vegans to think they need a shelf-full of cookbooks, but this one book is really all you need to get going. For a measly $12 through Amazon.com, you get 150 delicious, super easy, and healthful vegan recipes. Get this one book and you’re done.

Suppose you have a little extra money to spend, and want a more extensive recipe collection. In that case, I’d recommend another book by Robin Robertson, titled Vegan Planet. The recipes here are still simple, but they’re slightly more involved than those published in her Quick-Fix book. Vegan Planet is by far the best value in the vegan cookbook world. At fifteen dollars (again, after Amazon.com’s discount), you get a book nearly as thick as a big-city phone directory: 600 pages of recipes, each one guaranteed to turn out just right.

One final recommendation: I’m deeply impressed by Tal Ronnen’s, The Conscious Cook. Tal uses a variety of advanced cooking techniques to push vegan cooking to new heights. This is a more sophisticated and demanding cookbook than most other titles in print, but if you want to cook something special it’s the book to get.

The people who succeed at going vegan are the people who give themselves every possible advantage. The sooner you get your hands on a quality vegan cookbook that emphasizes simple recipes, the sooner you’ll benefit from a ton of new cooking ideas.

I find it immensely worthwhile to leaf through a great vegan cookbook, even if I have no intention of making any of the recipes. It gets the wheels turning and, in no time at all, I have ideas for a whole bunch of meals I want to try. And remember, every time you discover a new vegan food you love, you’re another big step closer to becoming vegan.

Next Chapter: Vegan Nutrition

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