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Eat Your Vegetables! 12 of the Best in Vegan, Vegetarian, and Veg-ish Cookbooks

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • October 16, 2020

Why Should You Veg Out?

There are lots of great reasons to work more vegetables into our diet. There's the argument that it's healthier of course. We've all seen the food pyramid, after all. Our diet is supposed to be mostly plant-based. Vegetables are rich in nutrients and antioxidants. Eating vegetarian is generally an economical choice as well. Meat is expensive! Beyond that, there are huge concerns about the environmental demands of growing and processing the animal products that we consume.

In celebration of Vegetarian Awareness Month, we offer fourteen cookbooks—from vegetarian to vegan to vegetarian-ish—presenting yummy ways to eat your veggies.

Vegetarian

Vegetarian dishes can include animal by-products such as butter, cheese, milk, or eggs, but no meat, poultry, or seafood. Here are four of our favorite cookbooks for this category.

The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone
After many years as a teacher and writer, Deborah Madison realized that there was no comprehensive primer for vegetarian cooking. So she created one! Originally published in 1997, her guide offers a great selection of unfussy dishes, tips, and tools to give confidence to culinary novices. But with more than 1,600 recipes, it's a go-to resource for experienced chefs too.

Plenty
This cookbook launched Israeli-English chef Yotam Ottolenghi as an international food celebrity. His visually stunning collection of more than 120 recipes features exciting flavors and fresh combinations. Organized by ingredient, the recipes are centered on an approach of freshness and seasonality and incorporate diverse food cultures from around the world.

The Modern Cook's Year
Acclaimed cookbook author Anna Jones puts vegetables at the center of the table, using simple yet inventive ingredients and a seasonal focus. Elderflower-dressed fava beans with burrata in the spring, smoked eggplant flatbread for summer, beetroot, rhubarb and potato gratin in fall, and velvety squash broth with miso and soba for winter.

Fresh India
Bestselling Indian cookbook author Meera Sodha returns with 130 plant-based recipes that will delight anyone looking to add more vegetables to their diet. Her surprising, yet simple, recipes use easy-to-find ingredients. There are familiar and classic Indian recipes like dals, curries, and pickles, alongside less-familiar ones using fresh, seasonal ingredients. We like her Paneer Butter Masala.

Vegan

Going vegan means eliminating not just meat, poultry and seafood, but all food products that are created by animals, including eggs, dairy, cheese, mayonnaise, and even honey. It may sound extreme to some, but with cookbooks like these, adopting a vegan diet is easier (and tastier) than ever!

Veganomicon
From vegan powerhouses Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, this comprehensive guide is a great choice for beginners, offering basic vegan cooking techniques and a wide variety of recipes with regards to flavors, ethnicities, and skill levels. A few of our favorite recipes include: Po' Boy Roasted Eggplant and Spinach Muffuletta, Jicama-Watercress-Avocado Salad with Spicy Citrus Vinaigrette, and Acorn Squash, Pear and Adzuki Soup.

The Vegan Stoner Cookbook
Offering a side of comedy, this cookbook, which began as a blog created by Graham I. Haynes and Sara Conrique, promises recipes "so easy that even a stoner can make them." It's a collection of 100 affordable, delicious recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (and munchies, of course!) including Mean Green Smoothies, Aspara-Guy Sushi, Bahnwiches, Churro Chips, and more.

Epic Vegan: Wild and Over-The-Top Plant-Based Recipes
This cookbook, from NYC-based vegan chef Dustin Harder, makes good on its claim of craveable, mouthwatering, saucy, messy, and in-your-face food. The recipes offer creative, vegan twists on traditional, nostalgic, comfort-food dishes like Bacon Macaroni and Cheese Blue Burger and Buffalo Chicken Lasagne.

Afro-Vegan
James Beard-winning chef and activist Bryant Terry draws from African, Afro-Caribbean, and Southern cuisines to serve up 100 enticing recipes inspired by the African diaspora. Dishes include Berbere-Spiced Black-Eyed Pea Sliders, Muscovado-Roasted Plantains, and Curried Scalloped Potatoes with Coconut Milk. Plus every recipe comes with a song, so your playlist is built in!

Veg-ish (A New Word We Just Made Up!)

Maybe you don't want to give up meat entirely, but just want to have more veg in your diet. Maybe you've joined a CSA and need some ideas for all your fresh local produce. Maybe you just want to figure out how to get your kids to eat more veggies. In any case, here are some cookbooks that, while not strictly vegetarian, focus on whole foods and incorporate lots of yummy, seasonal produce.

The Fresh and Green Table
Cook/writer/farmer Susie Middleton offers up 75 recipes that are perfect for the millions who have embraced Meatless Mondays and anyone who appreciates good, fresh food. Brightly illustrated with 50 color photographs and buzzing with energy, this beautiful cookbook offers recipes like Chile Rice with Green Beans and Toasted Pecans, Nine-Layer Grilled Vegetable Salad, and Sizzling Veggie Fried Rice.

Super Natural Every Day
Heidi Swanson's approach to cooking whole, natural foods has earned her a global readership. With this sumptuous collection of nearly 100 of her go-to recipes, anyone can create a welcoming table filled with nourishment. Gorgeously illustrated with over 100 photos, enjoy the beauty of uncomplicated food prepared well.

The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook
With the same warmth, candor, and can-do spirit as her award-winning blog, Deb Perelman presents more than 100 recipes, beautifully displayed in her color photographs. Her approach will help you find innovative ways to incorporate your favorite vegetables: asparagus blanketing a pizza; ratatouille dressing up a sandwich; cauliflower masquerading as pesto.

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat
This is the secret book that chefs don't want you to know about because you may never eat out again! Chef and writer Samin Nosrat demystifies the elements of cooking with a canon of 100 essential recipes—and dozens of variations—for everything from bright, balanced vinaigrettes to perfectly caramelized roast vegetables to light, flaky pastry.

The point is, it's not all or nothing with vegetables! Obviously, there's a vibrant diversity of healthy dietary choices. Here's hoping we've hit upon something that inspires you to up your veggie game! Or maybe you're already acres ahead of us here! In any case, let us know if you have any favorite cookbooks we've missed.

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Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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