2015 has been another amazing year for plant-based diets and lifestyle. The last few years have seen a steady and rapid rise in the number of people choosing to make the change to Veganism with a recent study revealing that in the UK approximately 12% of adults follow either a vegan or vegetarian diet, and this figure rises to 20% among 16-24 year olds. At its most basic Veganism is the practice of abstaining from consuming any products derived from animals such as meat, eggs, dairy, honey & fish; though it often extended to lifestyle, whereby all products associated with animals are avoided, including health and beauty items as well as materials such as leather, wool and silk. Whilst the majority of people make the lifestyle change to Veganism on ethical grounds, there are a growing number of people that are motivated by the many health benefits associated with a plant-based diet (such as reducing your risk of cancer, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes). As Veganism has become a popular lifestyle choice it has moved from the margins to the mainstream so that now there are vegan books, documentaries, festivals and events, vegan options on menus and significantly more vegan food products/specialist ingredients in the supermarket. One area that is simply flourishing is plant-based cookbooks and we have some absolutely beautiful vegan cookbooks in out basement Cookshop at the moment. Here we have chosen our 4 favourite books and have leafed through them and picked out our favourite recipes from each book. So whether you are looking for some healthy and delicious cooking ideas for yourself or wanting to treat someone to a beautiful gift look no further!
First up is Keep It Vegan by Áine Carlin the winner of ‘Best Vegan Cookbook’ at PETA’s 2014 Vegan Food Awards. With the tag line ‘keep it simple, keep it tasty, keep it fun and keep it vegan’ the cookbook is made up of over 100 healthy recipes with an emphasis on simplicity . Sometimes Vegan recipes have a tendency to be rather complicated, with long ingredients lists, containing some rather specialist food items, but all the recipes in Keep It Vegan are made from your common store cupboard essentials and are blissfully uncomplicated and straightforward to make. This is a cookbook that proves that delicious and flavourful vegan food doesn’t have to be complicated to prepare or cook. Keep It Vegan is the perfect book for those new to the Vegan diet or those wishing to increase their plant-based meals and looking for some simple but tasty recipes to try out!
Favourite Recipe – Stuffed Mushroom Burgers and Dijon Coated Wedges – these burgers look absolutely delicious! They are made with “meaty” Portobello mushrooms so are tasty and filling enough that they still feel like a treat!
Easy Vegan by Sue Quinn is 140 creative recipes all accompanied by a picture which simply leaps off the page at you (because lets face it it’s the beautiful picture in a cookbook that really sway us to purchase it!). We also particularly love the books introductory chapter which contains a vegan nutrition chart, a table explaining the protein contents of food items, and an extremely useful section on how to veganise a non-vegan recipe; showing you how to supplement various ingredients in place of butter, egg, milk, cheese, cream and other such ingredients all set out in a helpful flowchart! Like Keep It Vegan this book’s recipes are quite simple and easy to make and so perfect for those new vegans out there, the book also helpfully explains how to make things such as vegan mayonnaise, pasta, nut butters and milk.
Favourite Recipe – Peanut Butter Caramel Swirl Brownies – as a self-confessed peanut butter addict this recipe immediately caught my eye, the perfect sweet treat!
V is for Vegan by Kerstin Rodgers is 150 recipes all just bursting with flavour. It serves as a wonderful introduction to Veganism as it methodically lays out the Vegan philosophy explaining why meat, dairy, eggs and other specific food items are avoided, and it also includes an informative history of the movement. We love the ‘Knowledge is Power’ chapter in which the author has compiled a ‘Vegan Toolkit’ which looks at popular ingredients such as tofu, soya; explains how to make nut butters, vegan spread, mayonnaise and also how to boost flavours with spices, herbs and unusual ingredients such as flowers and seaweed. Our resident Papyrus Vegan Norman particularly loves the ’13 Things on Toast’- proof that only 2 or 3 ingredients can transform toast from humdrum to extraordinary.
Favourite Recipe – Black and Green Cheesecake with Bengali Lime and Avocado – What a vegan masterpiece! Next dinner party I host this is most definitely on the menu, I dare any guest not to be impressed by this beauty!
Last and certainly not least is my personal favourite, Peace and Parsnips – Vegan Cooking for Everyone by Lee Watson. This book is beautiful written and photographed, and would make a perfect gift for someone who really takes pleasure in food. It provides a very detailed introduction to Veganism and contains a thorough examination of a Vegan Store cupboard, taking time to fully explain the importance and multiple uses of herbs, spices, nuts, beans & pulses, and various tins,jars and cartons. Like V for Vegan it explains how to make nut milks and butters and also contains some useful pages on the seasonality of fruit/vegetables/herbs. Its an absolute pleasure to read and is on my Christmas Wishlist!
Favourite Recipe – Super Hero Raw Sprouting Salad with Cashew Hummus – This recipe just looks so colourful and vibrant, it’s sure to catch everyone’s eye when brought to the table. Also more importantly it is unbelievably nutritionally good for you! It’s perfect summertime cuisine, ideal for al fresco lunches or dinners.
So that is our four top picks! So whether you are a full-fledged vegan, novice, vegetarian or just wishing to cut down your meat and dairy intake, we have a cookbook to suit your need! Come see!