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Everything Vegan could easily be the biggest reference book in vegan cooking. With over 250 recipes, this compilation by the Vegetarian Times magazine also includes a foreword by vegan guru, Dr. Neal D. Barnard (author of another vegan reference book, The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook). Everything Vegan features an interesting glossary of cooking and prep terms as well as some menu ideas for holidays and other special celebrations. The book is divided in 13 chapters, and includes recipes for everything, from drinks to stews, to sweet treats.
Most recipes are fairly easy to make and, although they may include some specialty ingredients, none of them are beyond what most vegans must be used to buying, and should be easily found in your local specialty store and/or farmer's market.
The book has a beautiful layout, with a number of mouthwatering pictures. Most recipes also have a little box on the side with tips on how to some of the ingredients (especially the most "tricky" ones) more successfully, or tips on how to shop for or store certain ingredients.
Now, even though most of the recipes are really easy to make, they are far from being boring and bland. A great example is the Quinoa Fettuccine in Mushroom Broth with Truffle Oil, which is the exact opposite of insipid. I am particularly fond of the chapter on rice and whole grains, where we can find recipes with quinoa, bulgur, couscous etc. for all tastes. Chapter 8, on vegetables, is also interesting as it brings a number of creative recipes which avoid the savorlessness of meals which a lot of people expect to find in a vegan cookbook.
This is an especially great book for people who have recently started a vegan diet or who do not have much time to cook. For more experienced vegan cooks, however, a lot of the recipes may seem to require too many store-bought, semi-prepared ingredients. Few dishes call for ingredients which must be made from scratch. So, unless you are quite an advanced cook, this book will suit your needs.
What could be listed as a major flaw in the book is, in fact, more of an oversight. On page 62, the recipe for Greek-Style Lentil Burger calls for two large eggs. Well, vegans (and some non-vegans alike) know that a vegan diet excludes all kinds of animal products -- so, eggs are part of the ruled-out items. But most vegans also know (if they did not know before, they will have learned from the book) what an egg substitute is (silken tofu, commercial egg replacers, applesauce, depending on the recipe), so "fixing" this recipe does not require much effort.
At the end of Everything Vegan, there is also an appendix with additional sources of information on where to buy ingredients, as well as websites with information on vegan nutrition. Another appendix has a list of the basic tools that one needs to optimize your vegan cooking.
In short, although the book might be excessively unassuming for advanced vegan cooks, and not ideal for those who turn up their noses at the slightest mistake, it certainly is a good reference for vegans in general, and is quite creative (both in suggestions of flavors and book layout) when compared to other vegan cookbooks.
© 2011 Aline Medeiros Ramos
Aline Medeiros Ramos, PhD candidate in philosophy, Université du Québec à Montréal firstname.lastname@example.org
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