Now for something a bit on the wild side ~ vegan food!
So what the heck is a vegan anyway? Vegans do not eat any animal products – no meat, fish, or dairy. Some do not use or wear any kind of animal based products either. It is a committed live style and takes a lot of discipline.
How is a vegan different from a vegetarian? Vegetarians have varying levels of commitment and may eat dairy or fish in different combinations depending on the person’s affiliations and choices. Vegans eat no animal products.
How can someone not eat any meat, let alone live without cheese, milk, butter, and eggs? It’s not easy, as our western diet is based upon these items. But these two cookbooks will show you where to start. Both use no animal products and explain what to use as substitute. It is a shift in thinking, but it is easier on your pocket book, your body, and believe it or not - it can be just plain delicious. One thing is for sure, you do not have to go completely vegan or change right away even if it is proven to be better for our health. Here is a quote from Ann Gentry’s Vegan Family Meals book blurb supporting some health benefits:
Large-scale studies have shown that mortality from ischemic heart disease was 30% lower among vegetarian and vegan men and 20% lower among vegetarian and vegan women. Additionally, those following a meatless diet tend to have lower body mass index, lower levels of cholesterol, lower blood pressure, and fewer incidences of heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, renal disease, osteoporosis, and dementias such as Alzheimer's disease and other disorders.
Are John and I vegan? No, but we like eating less meat and dairy and are transitioning into eating them even less. Just a small change in diet can reap a ton of benefits – health wise, planet wise, and pocketbook-wise.
Two reviews by Shellie for:
- Eat Vegan on $4 a Day ~ by Ellen Jaffe Jones
- Vegan Family Meals ~ by Ann Gentry
Two cookbooks for different levels of cooking experience. Both are good places to start when looking to begin a plant-based eating program, depending on the amount of time you would like to commit.
As a new way of thinking about food (which this is for most people) and for those who cook (such as myself) it is difficult to get one’s head around. It has taken me some time to know what vegan food actually is let alone how to cook it. But it can be so delicious. Some sample recipes from Ann Gentry’s book are:
Tofu Benedict with Roasted Corn Hollandaise, Herb Zucchini Soup for lunch, Lasagna Rolls for dinner, and decadent Chocolate Silk Pie with Cashew Crust.
If that doesn’t stimulate your appetite, or you want additional more, I encourage you to try a meal or two at a local vegan restaurant. One of our very favorite local restaurants is Vegan.
Eat Vegan on $4.00 a Day ~ This is a thin paper bound book with black and white illustrations and down to earth, concise advice on how to eat a plant-based diet – cheaply! It has menu planning and budgeting information, as well as some very nice recipes and detailed instructions on how to cook them. All this information definitely helps, as eating in this manner is a new way of thinking for omnivores. At 3.5 stars, it is an excellent place to start when cooking and eating without meat or dairy.
Ellen Jaffe Jones’ bio: At 58 she is a certified personal trainer, running coach, author, and is a cooking instructor with The Cancer Project, a program of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. She spent eighteen years in TV news as an investigative reporter, morning anchor, and producer for network affiliates around the country, winning two Emmys among other awards. Find out more from her blog – The VegCoach; and Website.
Vegan Family Meals ~ This is a gorgeous cookbook that is well designed, organized and concise. It is a gourmet cookbook and is recommended for those who have experience cooking or who want to spend time preparing plant-based meals. The colorful pictures and descriptions in this book makes it a real treasure; the author has years of experience cooking and eating within the vegan lifestyle. 4 stars. For more information on Vegan Family Meals check out the book’s website.
Ann Gentry’s bio: Creator, founder, and operating owner of - Real Food Daily, the only restaurant in the Los Angeles area that serves a 100% vegan menu using zero animal by-products and foods grown exclusively with organic farming methods. She is the author of The Real Food Daily Cookbook. She lives in Los Angeles with her family. For more information link to her restaurant's website - Real Food Daily.
In summary: As mentioned these two cookbooks are for two different levels of cooks. Eat Vegan on $4 a Day is for those who want an easy and cheap introduction to this method of eating and cooking. Ellen Jaffe Brown has simpler recipes that look delicious. However if you don’t mind spending hours cooking, want gorgeous color pictures, and in-depth yet accessible explanations you may want to chose Vegan Family Meals.
So which would I purchase? Both. If I wanted full color picture and gourmet instructions it would be Vegan Family Meals. If I were just starting out and wanted to save money Eat Vegan on $4 a Day would be my choice.
Which book would you choose?
top photo credit: By joe grimaldi