There was a time when a list like this would have been impossible, because there weren’t enough vegan or vegetarian cookbooks to choose from. Now entire bookstore shelves and even rows are devoted to the genre. If you’re still wondering what to get the animal lover in your life or just interested in integrating a more plant-based way of eating into your routine, here are twenty good places to start. Some of them aren’t purely vegan, but have great vegan recipes in them or provide options that make it easy to veganize.
Eat Like You Give a Damn: Recipes for the New Ethical Vegan by Michelle Schwegmann & Josh Hooten
New! From the founders of Herbivore Clothing we get realistic recipes and meal ideas from people who walk the walk. Each recipe comes with a detailed nutritional run-down and the photos alone are swoon-worthy.
Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero
All of the books in Moskowitz-Romero empire are gorgeous and worthy of being on this list, but it’s the Veganomicon
I return to again and again (oh how I love those little Chickpea Fritters!) and it’s the vegan cookbook I see most often in the kitchens of many omnivorous friends, so there’s something special there.
Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero
The cupcake trend may be dead, but that doesn’t mean you don’t still need one once in awhile. Make your own Mexican Hot Chocolate, Pistachio Rosewater or Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting cupcakes any time you want with the help of this fun cookbook. Vegan baking is a science, and Moskowitz and Romero are genius Professors of Pastries.
Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life by Brendan Brazier
The Ironman triathlete behind the VEGA brand brings us part self-help/informative, part layman’s guide to a nutritionally-dense plant-based diet. Aimed at athletes or anyone focused on getting the most energy and vitality from real food, the simplicity of the few-ingredient recipes here is refreshing in a heavily processed and genetically modified world.
Cook Food by Lisa Jervis
More a vegan-friendly manifesto with some affordable and accessible recipes, this offering from the founder of Bitch
Magazine is a good place to start for anyone completely clueless about how to eat in a healthy way. It guides one through buying staples and eating for sustainability and the “What You Need in Your Pantry, Refrigerator and Spice Rack” section alone makes it a perfect gift for anyone just getting started on this whole home cooking thing.
The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester
Just received this as a gift myself—already tried: Smoky Mac and Cheese, Thai Coconut Pumpkin Soup, Mojito Pinto Beans, Scrumptious Strawberry Cornbread, and Asian Greens (which I burned, but that’s my fault for leaving it on high for 10 hours and not noticing the ‘cook on low for 6-8’ note. Whoopsie!) Perfect for the busy person who can’t spend hours creating new concoctions… a crockpot and this cookbook could change your life!
How It All Vegan by Tanya Barnard & Sarah Kramer
Back in 1999, when we still said “animal-free” and well before “plant-based” was introduced, this cool little book launched a whole genre of hip, vegan cookbooks; now it’s an oldie but a goldie. The go-to recipes for quickie meals are well-thought-out and perfect for beginning vegans, period.
Raw & Simple by Judita Wignall
If you’ve been wondering about the whole raw thing but feel overwhelmed by the ideas of dehydrating mushrooms or never cooking again, this book is a good place to start. The author rejects the all-or-nothing attitude found in a lot of other books and breaks it down into bite-sized ways for you to work healthy, delicious whole foods into your diet.
By Any Greens Necessary by Tracey McQuirter
You’ve got to love the title, and while the subtitle makes this book specifically tailored as A Revolutionary Guide for Black Women Who Want to Eat Great, Get Healthy, Lose Weight, and Look Phat
, the ideas and recipes can be enjoyed by anyone who loves good food, especially anyone who wants to transition from being an omnivore to vegan but might not have the social or community guidance for doing so. McQuirter’s is a loving, delicious approach.
The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Lidden
Cooking for an army of vegans? Based on the popular Oh She Glows blog, this one’s full of crowd-pleasing goodness. Especially great for cooking big batches of comfort food for potlucks and family gatherings.
Lord Krishna’s Cuisine: The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking by Yamuna Devi
This collection is a veritable treasure trove of traditional Indian vegetable and legume-based recipes, gathered from Devi’s years of travel with guru Srila Prabhupada. In true Krishna tradition, none of the dishes call for garlic or onions, though you’ll never miss it with the right masala and a touch of asafetida. Skip the dairy/ghee section and it’s a vegan Indian food lover’s dream. I have the original hardcover 800-page (!) edition and felt intimidated by it for years. The recipes are a little labor-intensive but I am now enlightened enough to know that the payoff here is worth it. Perfect for experienced chefs who are open to culinary challenges and interested in Ayurvedic concepts. Just looking at the cover makes me want to whip up a dal.
Soy Not Oi compiled by the Hippycore Crew
Food is a political issue and for those like it with a side of anarchy (original subtitle: Over 100 Recipes Designed to Destroy the Government
), Soy Not Oi
delivers. A longtime classic enjoying its 25th year in print with a second edition now available, the book lead many of us ‘80s kids through the dark days of western vegetarianism, introducing such classics as Nutritional Yeast Gravy, Chaos Crust Tofu Chili, Punk Pancakes and Vegan Moshed Potatoes. This slim little tome is bursting personality and nourishing goodness.
The China Study Cookbook by LeAnne Campbell
Not such an exciting name, but it comes with credibility due to its tie-in with the groundbreaking book, The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, And Long-term Health
. The author is the daughter of the aforementioned title and the recipes lean toward those with no added fat, little-to-no salt and limited natural sweeteners, sticking to its “garden approach” philosophy.
Chloe’s Vegan Italian Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli
Creamy Alfredo, spicy Arrabiata, buttery Italian wedding cookies, fabulous focaccia, big butternut ravioli—Chloe knows how to veganize all the standards. As the intro says, “If you can’t go to Italy, let Italy come to you.” Many recipes here are gluten-free as well as vegan, all clearly marked accordingly. Viva la pasta!
The Native Foods Restaurant Cookbook by Tanya Petrovna
The founder of the Native Foods Café chain knows her stuff, and it shows in the complex flavors of their menu. If there’s not a Native Foods where you live, what better way to conjure the experience right in your own kitchen? Page 241 in ours (“Rasta Pasta Primavera”) is food-stained bent to pieces—in other words, “well loved.”
Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine by Bryant Terry
Sometimes we crave the foods we grew up with, and with recipes like “Not Too Dirty Rice,’ “Shroom Stock” and “Creole-Hoppin-Jean-John,” Vegan Soul Kitchen
proves full-flavored southern food can be made with less fat, lower salt, no meat and no guilt. As the New York Times said of its author, “This young food activist makes Southern cooking healthy and cool.”
Cookin’ Southern Vegetarian Style by Ann Jackson
Ms. Jackson, a former cook at The Farm Community in Tennessee, weaves stories of washing dishes, beautiful bowls and her Granny’s kitchen between recipes for “Moonshiner’s Tipsy Cake,’ “Coal Miner’s Chicken Fried Steak & Gravy,” and “Old-Time Corn Pones.” The “‘Fried Chicken’ Tofu and Gravy is enough to convert even the biggest tofu-hater.
Eat for Strength by Agatha Thrash, MD
A Seventh Day Adventist client recently gave this 1979 edition to my husband and we love its take on Americana as seen through the no-nonsense recipe titles: Stroganoff; Tomato Sauce; Soy Cottage Cheese; Home Hotdogs (ew, I know). The meal planner in the back is actually useful and they were early adopters of the “overnourishment more dangerous than undernourishment” warning to Americans.
Fit for Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond
We’re taking it old-school here, but Fit for Life
was my first cookbook. I don’t know if half of what the authors said it true, but I knew their suggestions for “natural eating” made me feel better. The 1987 version was updated in 2011 and I still love their juice and smoothie combinations.
The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples by Miyoko Schinner
The author is Miyoko behind Miyoko’s Artisinal Cheeses, and clearly she is dedicated to educating the public on avoiding mass-produced heavily-processed foods (we all know just because a product is labeled ‘vegan’ doesn’t mean it’s good for you!) I don’t actually have this book but have fondled it in bookstores. I’d love one for Christmas. You hear me, Santa?
Main photo by Kelly Sue DeConnick CC BY-SA