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Which One Cookbook Do You Recommend?

A gaggle of people have asked me this question recently. They all have some sort of holiday list, money is tight, and if they could buy just one cookbook to help them in their conversion to veganism from their current omnivorous state, what should it be and why.

The why part is important, as some cookbooks are a bit junk food vegan-ish. And some people want that; they don't necessarily want to change their current calories or fat or sugar or gluten or cooking process. They want to eat what they used to eat, just sans animals. Others, such as raw vegan books, are likely to be quite alien. Then again some people are curious about raw food or agree that it's the only way to go and want to jump in.

Unfortunately, though I can find out more about the askers of this question, they are in a bit of a time crunch because people are buying gifts for them in the next couple of days. If I knew more, I could ask you a more specific question.

With all that said, which cookbook do you recommend to someone who is going to get only one, and why do you recommend it? My hope is that there will be enough suggestions that the askers will find themselves in the suggestions, and put the appropriate book on their list.

If there are any cons about the book you recommend, please let me know.


8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Deb #

    I think I'd recommend Dreena Burton's "Eat Drink and Be Vegan".

    My reasons are that the food tends to be on the healthy side, even the desserts, but there are some dietary splurges as well. The recipes tend to be fast and easy, there are kid-friendly recipes as well as nutrition information, and she stays away from most specialty ingredients, so that you can make her recipes even if all you have access to is the regular grocery store in an average town (Dreena is living in a small town in Canada, not NYC or some other place where you can find everything and then some). I've liked all of her recipes I've tried, and I've served many of her cookies to omni's with happy results. I think that she has accessible recipes, and satisfying recipes, and yet they're not boring, and there's nice variety.

    Not many pics, though, if that makes a difference!

    December 19, 2009
  2. Kaitlin #

    I would recommend The 30 Minute Vegan. All of the recipes are definitely on the more healthful side of vegan and the cookbook includes a number of quality raw recipes. So it provides recipes using soy and gluten but would also help someone incorporate raw vegan meals into their program in a way that's not intimidating.

    I think that The Vegan Table is a good gift for someone, but is relatively less health-oriented than The 30 Minute Vegan. I think it would be a good gift for someone who finds veganism inaccessible or is worried about the social ramifications of eating vegan (it has lots of entertaining advice and detailed meal plans for special occasions).

    The Alternative Vegan is also a good one because it contains no soy products and instead focuses on simple meals with simple ingredients.

    December 19, 2009
  3. I would recommend Vegan Planet for anyone who wants to try new cuisines. There are so many recipes from different types of cuisines and they, mostly, aren't too complicated. It's certainly not for someone who wants to stick with their meat and potatoes style diet thought.

    Other wise, any of the Isa Chandra books are good. They're better suited for young people, since they're a bit snarky. Most of the recipes are vegan versions of old favorites.

    I would also recommend for anyone interested in healthy vegan eating. Since it is free.

    December 19, 2009
  4. How It All Vegan! is my favorite cookbook, hands down. I used it when I first went vegan and it made all the difference. It was a gift from friends who have been vegan for several years, and they wrote in it that it's their go-to cookbook as well. The dishes are interesting and many offer a full meal in one go, though their side dishes are awesome too. There are also tips on vegan cleaners and directions to make things like soy milk if you can't buy any where you live.

    My second favorite is the newly released Vegan Comfort Food by Alicia Simpson. I think it's better for folks who want to keep the same diet sans animals. It's a lot of fun dishes like sloppy joes, mac&cheese, and (no queso) dillas, and so far, everything I've tried has been simple and delicious. Bonus points for some nice photos in the middle of the book.

    Both of these are also paperback, something that really appeals to me.

    December 20, 2009
  5. Sammy Post #

    For people who want a comprehensive book, and don't already know a lot about cooking, I'd recommend Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything Vegetarian. Yes, there are some recipes containing dairy and eggs, but most of them have vegan substitutions suggested. It has things like a table of all the whole grains you might encounter and how to cook them.

    Robin Robertson's recent released 1000 Vegan Recipes looks quite good, with plenty of quick and simple recipes. It's inexpensive for such a large number of recipes. I haven't cooked from it yet. I like RR's Meat and Potatoes Cookbook, too.


    December 20, 2009
  6. My first vegan cookbook was Vegan with a Vengeance by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. I still love it, though Veganomicon is bigger and has more basic info re: how to cook various vegetables, grains, etc. The sample menus are great too. I've never made a bad dish from either book. I really enjoy 30-Minute Vegan too, but it definitely has a healthier take on things.

    December 21, 2009
  7. Ariann #

    My favorite cookbook is The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen. It doesn't require any "weird vegan ingredients," focuses heavily on grains, beans, and veggies, and includes familiar tastes along with unfamiliar twists on a cuisine that's familiar to most people. Everything I've made from it has been 100% perfect. Each recipe includes a nutritional breakdown and very few recipes require any expensive ingredients.

    December 21, 2009
  8. I like The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen and Vegan Planet a lot, and 1000 Vegan Recipes is a huge resource. That said, if I had to pick just one, it would definitely be the Veganomicon (Isa Chandra Moskowitz) – it's comprehensive, has useful introductory material like "How to Cook a Grain (Legume, Vegetable, etc.)" for novice cooks, and is essentially based in whole foods rather than lots of processed analogues. I come from a food-obsessed family, and have been cooking nearly all my life, but still found plenty of new and interesting stuff in there, and I've suggested it to pretty much every veg-curious person I've met – and they are increasing in number! – in the past few years. (And the cashew ricotta recipe is worth the price of the book all on its own!)

    February 1, 2010

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