When people start transitioning to a vegan diet, their most pressing concern is often, “What do I eat?” In the past decade, vegan options have exploded everywhere from fine dining restaurants to Walmart shelves. Seasoned plant eaters will tell you: it’s never been easier to be vegan! That being said, a good vegan cookbook can be worth its weight in gold and can help expand your cooking repertoire so that you never get bored on a vegan diet.
The Happy Herbivore cookbook is a great place to start even if you have little to no kitchen experience. This book has recipes for familiar favorites using vegan ingredients. It covers everything from breakfast to dessert – there is even a “Spreads, Gravies, & Sauces” section with nacho cheese sauce and thanksgiving gravy. My favorite recipe is the “Tuna” Salad that uses mashed chickpeas in place of fish – I still eat it for lunch all the time and it never seems to get old. Most recipes in this book are at a beginner level: they have limited ingredients and are easy to make. The book focuses on cooking from scratch and using minimally processed foods instead of processed vegan replacements. For example, the Mexican Chorizo can be made from a grain called quinoa that is seasoned and sautéed. Another bonus of the non-processed approach is that the dishes are low to no fat and low to no oil. This was the first vegan cookbook I owned and even though its pages are falling out, I still use it!
Isa Chandra Moskowitz has authored and coauthored several vegan cookbooks, but Isa Does Itis my favorite. It has a little bit of everything from quick, weeknight meals to Sunday Night Suppers. Most recipes are accompanied by beautiful photographs. This is a cookbook for people with some cooking experience or those who are willing to learn. Isa uses some specialized techniques, but she walks you through them with step by step photo instructions and detailed notes for each recipes. There are so many dishes in this book that I go back to over and over again; a few of my favorites include the Tofu Mushroom Stroganoff, Pizza Bowl, Oyster Mushroom Tacos, and New England Clam Chowder. This is one of the few cookbooks that I have ever considered cooking my way through cover to cover in order to try every single recipe. In fact, I know a vegan couple who did just that and are now doing the same with one of Isa’s newer cookbooks. If you could only buy just one vegan cookbook to use for an entire year (or lifetime), this would be it.
Anyone looking for an all purpose, all around vegan cookbook
Cooks looking to explore the wide variety of dishes and cuisines you can enjoy on a vegan diet
The Kind Dietis more than just a cookbook, it’s the book that inspired me to go vegan for 30 days. After 30 days, I felt like I was walking on air! I couldn’t believe it. That was over eight years ago and I have been vegan ever since. More textbook than cookbook, the first 140 pages are informational and cover the reasons why people are vegan, basic nutrition, meal planning tips, and a ton of inspiration. One of my favorite tips from the book for new vegans is to flirt with food. Flirting is fun, exciting, and involves trying new things. Silverstone encourages people to take this playfulness with you to the grocery store and try some new vegan foods. All the recipes are very healthful, but are divided into two sections. The first are delicious vegan recipes like moroccan couscous and chocolate peanut butter cups. The second section includes the ultra-healthy “Superhero” recipes, which are inspired by the macrobiotic diet and eastern cuisine. A few favorites include the Clean, Mean Burritos and the Fried Udon Noodles.
People interested in healthy eating
Fans of simple, non processed ingredients
People interested in a cookbook that will also teach you about new foods, common vegan questions, and some of the Whys of being vegan
People who enjoy experimenting with new ingredients
Veganomicon is an advanced cookbook for chefs looking for in-depth, gourmet dishes. Many recipes include exotic ingredients, multiple steps, advanced cooking techniques, and extended cooking times. However, if you are up to the challenge, you will find excellent vegan recipes here. There are basic recipes in Veganomicon for things like sautéed greens, hummus, salsa, and mushroom gravy. However, the real winners are the casseroles. A few of my favorites are the Eggplant Potato Moussaka with Pine Nut Cream and the Potato and Kale Enchiladas. While these dishes take several hours and a few glasses of wine to make, they are delicious and the leftovers keep on giving. Beyond the casserole section, the chickpea cutlets are a healthy meat replacement that you can serve on a weeknight or on Thanksgiving. Make no mistake, this is a serious cookbook – you will notice a marked absence of pictures in it! However, if you want to wow your non-vegan and vegan friends alike, the recipes in this cookbook are sure to do it.
Home cooks with a moderate to significant amount of vegan or non-vegan cooking experience
Chefs who love long recipes that are worth the wait
People looking for a cookbook that will challenge them in the kitchen
Do you have an Instapot or pressure cooker? That thing isn’t just for roasts! The Instapot is a vegan’s dream because of its ability to quickly cook dried grains and beans. Not only is it much cheaper to cook these staples from dried ingredients found in the bulk section, it’s also tastier and allows you to control salt and oil content. Vegan Pressure Cooking will walk you through all the basics. For example, did you know you can make a baked sweet potato in less than 20 minutes in the Instapot? They are delicious! When you’re ready to go beyond the basics, Vegan Pressure Cooking has delicious one-pot meals; they have minimal prep and allow you to push a button and let the machine do the magic. A few winners that we keep coming back to are the Curried Mung Bean Stew and New World Szekely Goulash. Both are amazing with some crusty bread. Note, there are two editions to this cookbook. The one pictured left with a clickable link is the revised version that has more recipes and is actually cheaper than the original version.
Anyone with an Instapot (many recipes can also be adapted for crockpots, but not all of them)
Busy cooks who want to get other things done while their meals cook
People with limited cooking experience (the recipes are very easy)
Want even more vegan cookbooks worth buying? These didn’t make the top five, but we still use them a lot.