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Vegan Pursuits

I’m generally a big lover of meat and fish, making my views on vegetarian and vegan eating somewhat conflicted. However, I represent a lot of great books and authors in the category, including a very talented and successful vegan cookbook author whose books sell well year after year so I know there is a loyal and growing audience out there for books that appeal to this market. That was confirmed with the release of lifestyle author Kathy Freston’s Veganist, debuting yesterday with an appearance on Oprah and an interview in Vanity Fair, among other big publicity hits. Of course the book shot straight to number 1 on Amazon, and I’m guessing we’ll be seeing it high on the bestseller lists in coming weeks. It is encouraging to me that a seemingly niche topic can attract such a splashy mainstream response, following in the footsteps of Skinny Bitch, The Kind Diet, and Michael Pollen’s books, among others.

I haven’t actually seen the book yet, but from what I’ve read Freston’s book is really a straight lifestyle book, without recipes, outlining the many benefits of a vegan life. I am not someone who generally jumps on the Oprah bandwagon, but I do think there’s a lot of good to be found in this message of eating a healthier, more environmentally friendly, plant-based diet. That sounds a little more realistic to me, and one of these days I’d like to actually give it a try. I’m sure I’d miss the meat, but maybe I’d finally be able to shed those last few baby pounds that have been hanging around way too long, since the twins just turned 2 last week! And there would certainly be some great stories and lessons to share with the kids. If any of our readers are fans of vegan lifestyle or cookbooks, I’d be curious to hear what your favorites are. Now I’m off to make myself a salad for dinner.

13 Responses to Vegan Pursuits

  1. JGStewart says:

    Not strictly vegan, but I’m currently reading Mark Bittman’s FOOD MATTERS. Quite good–part lifestyle book and part cookbook (and of course there’s an expanded stand-alone cookbook as well). Nothing revolutionary (to me, at least) but does a great job of explaining/clarifying/motivating.

    The place where Bittman really shines is in making his recipes (in this case mostly vegan) both simple and appetizing–I’ve been reading it on the bus, and I’m always starving by the time I get home. He’s also refreshingly non-dogmatic in his approach, and his recipes have all kinds of room for substitutions and modifications. It’s the first diet/lifestyle book I’ve read in a while where I feel like I can can actually enjoy making the change, rather than suffer through it.

    ~JGS

  2. Jana Brown says:

    I think something to learn may be that diet doesn’t have to be all or nothing. My husband and I are eating more vegetarian or vegan meals, while still making meatier dishes on occasion and it is helpful with both weight and mood. :) I’m glad to see books like this getting out there so people can see the possibilities!

    ~J

  3. Jennifer Schubert says:

    Those baby pounds are tough, I know! :) I’m a vegan and the book that’s helped me most is Supermarket Vegan: 225 Meat-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free Recipes for Real People in the Real World. It’s easy and fantastic.

    • Laura T says:

      Jennifer,

      I am going to have to try that book, because I have a friend who is allergic to eggs and dairy, and I wonder if some of the food there might work for him. I’m always looking for something I can make… so thank you! I can’t wait to check it out.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Veganomicon is my go to for vegan meals–always delicious, usually the ingredients are easy to find, and there is a large variety of types of food.

  5. I like Deborah Madison’s books, and one I bought from the Millennium Restaurant in San Francisco.

  6. I second the other commenter’s mention of Veganomicon. It is by Moskowitz and Romero, and they have a blog called The Post Punk Kitchen. Their pumpkin cake and tomato soup are excellent. This cookbook convinced even my midwestern mother-in-law that you don’t need eggs for successful cakes and cookies! For vegetarian but not vegan recipes, try any cookbook by Jeanne Lemlin. Hers are my go-to cookbooks – never have had a bad recipe. Try her Simple Vegetarian Pleasures, Quick Vegetarian Pleasures or Vegetarian Classics.

  7. Bridget says:

    Another vote for Veganomicon! And Vegan With A Vengeance by the same author. There’s also a great blog I read called Oh She Glows that has healthy vegan recipes on it.

  8. Laura says:

    For desserts, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World is awesome, but also a good reminder that “vegan” doesn’t necessarily mean “healthy.” Plenty of vegans out there eat too much sugar and fried foods. *shifty eyes*

    I also like How It All Vegan. And Vegan Vittles is a cookbook full of basic, easy recipes. I think some of the recipes in there rely on tofu too much, but overall I like that one a lot.

  9. Joelle says:

    I am almost vegan. We do eat eggs and honey, and very occasionally goat’s cheese but no cow dairy and we’ve been vegetarian for years (6 for me, 35 for my husband). It’s a lot easier than you think. I also make about 99% of what we eat, and probably 85-90% of that is from scratch.

    I think what goofs people up is when they try to replicate meat dishes. Just eat other things. I read in a cookbook the other day if you think of it like this: I eat everything except meat & dairy, that leaves you with lots and lots of things to eat. If you say what you don’t eat then it starts being about trying to get around what you won’t eat.

    I agree that Marc Bitmman is pretty good. One of my go-to cookbooks is HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING VEGETARIAN. I also like PERFECT VEGETABLES (which is not vegetarian, but loads of the recipes adapt easily, and it also is just a fantastic encyclopedia on the best way to cook vegetables).

    I recently checked out THE CONSCIOUS COOK by Tal Ronnen (also touted by Oprah) and it’s a beautiful book full of picturesque restaurant food that I will never make at home! It’s so involved, and I love to cook! It was worth looking at to learn about cashew cream, but you can read about that here: http://www.oprah.com/food/Cashew-Cream

    Lastly, as someone mentioned, being a vegan is only healthy if you eat healthy food. They are not automatically the same thing. Honestly, you’d be better giving all refined sugar to lose the last of the baby fat (probably) than worrying too much about the rest of your diet. I recently gave it up for health reasons and five pounds just dropped off. And I’m fairly thin and wasn’t trying to lose weight. It just happened because most things with sugar also have lots of fat.

  10. Rachel says:

    I have never been disappointed by a recipe from SusanV at http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/
    I would buy any book she wrote. Some of her recipes are staples in our kitchen and if I ever have no ideas for dinner, her site is where I go first.

  11. Stacey says:

    A big thank you to all of you who replied with such great responses to my post! I’m so glad to see so many people interested in this lifestyle topic, and I hope to be able to come up with some more like it that will appeal to our readers.

  12. Melissa says:

    I’ve been vegan for nearly 4 years, but was vegetarian for the previous 9 years. There are so many great cookbooks out there now, and more seem to be hitting the shelf all the time. Veganomicon, which others have mentioned is a great book, and I also love Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s Isa Does It! In addition, I would recommend La Dolce Vegan, The Oh She Glows Cookbook, 365 Vegan Smoothies, and Blissful Bites.

    In addition to cookbooks, I’ve been noticing more and more YA novels that feature either vegetarian or vegan protagonists or secondary characters in them, and while occasionally, the characters treat minor characters who have made these dietary choices as “other,” the vast majority of the representations have proven to be positive or neutral. In case anyone who comes to this page is looking for fiction that reflects their (or their teen’s) dietary choices, I’d highly recommend checking out the veg/vegan character list and commentary on YABookShelf.com.

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