It’s been a while since I last wrote my last book review, so I thought I’d pull one of my favorite cookbooks off the shelf and let you know why I like this book so much.
Vegan Recipes is barely a book – the 96 pages are stapled together. The book is out of print, but (some) new and used copies are still available through Amazon.
1) All quantities are given in both imperial and metric measures. Measures are also given in standard cups and spoons, and there’s information about the difference between Australian and American tablespoon measurements.
2) The book contains information about vegan ethics, there’s a glossary of common animal by-products, and there are tips on how to avoid animal products. (Did you know that poppadums are often coated with shellac or that dried banana chips are often glazed with honey? Me neither.) There’s also a chapter on vegan nutrition, vegan sources of nutrients, and information about how to replace dairy products and eggs in recipes. The book contains a shopping list for vegan staples, which you’ll need for a variety of recipes, and there’s a chapter on vegan nutrition for pregnant women and children. Tips for eating out and entertaining at home are also given.
3) The book contains 56 recipes, for soups and starters, main meals, salads and side dishes, desserts, and breads and baking. There are numerous photographs that’ll make your mouth water and show you how to prepare the dishes.
4) Best of all – and that’s why I really love this cookbook – for each recipe nutrition notes are listed. Many cookbooks give information about protein, fat, carbs, etc. That’s standard. But Vegan Recipes also gives information about the iron and calcium content of each recipe. For vegans, that is very useful information indeed. I don’t know any other vegan cookbook that lists this kind of information.
As a vegan, I pay special attention to nutrition. I never worry about lack of protein – but I do worry about getting enough of all the essential amino acids. Cookbooks – even vegan cookbooks – never supply this kind of information. I also need to prepare dishes which contain Omega 3 fat, something that’s also never mentioned in the nutritional notes for recipes in cookbooks. And of course I watch out for iron and calcium. A slice of Caramelized Red Onion and Thyme Tart contains 1.8 mg iron and a whopping 170 mg of calcium. A portion of Byesar – an Arab dish similar to hummus, but made with broad beans – contains 2.7 mg of iron and 44 mg of calcium. Recipes like the ones included in Vegan Recipes help me plan my diet and ensure that I get all the nutrients I need. Unfortunately, information about nutrients like iron, calcium, essential amino acids and Omega 3 fat is not standard in vegan cookbooks, and that’s a shame. Vegans do have special nutritional needs, and vegan cookbooks should acknowledge that.
Here’s hoping that in the future more and more vegan cookbooks will provide additional nutritional information about their recipes. It’ll make it easier for vegans to stay fit and healthy.