Seven must-have vegan cookbooks

Vegan cookbooks

These vegan cookbooks will make your life much more delicious. (Stephen Hui)

Whether you’re planning holiday dinners or looking to expand your recipe collection, here are seven of the best vegan cookbooks around. I have a ridiculous number of cookbooks, and these are the ones I find myself turning to again and again.

1. The Joy of Vegan Baking

The Joy of Vegan Baking

By Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (Fair Winds Press, 2007).

When it was published, The Joy of Vegan Baking was the first vegan-baking compendium of its kind, and to this day it remains the best printed resource on the subject of vegan baking. Every time I bake, this is the first book I turn to. That’s not so much for the recipes, though I’ve made the gingerbread scones more times than I can remember. Rather, the section “Better Than Eggs” is my go-to resource for recipe-appropriate egg substitutions, especially when I’m veganizing a recipe. One of the most helpful aspects of this book is Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s suggestions on when to use each of the dozen different types of egg substitutions detailed in the first chapter. Also peppered throughout the book are many helpful tips that offer valuable baking knowledge to both experienced and novice bakers alike.

2. Vegan Brunch

Vegan Brunch

By Isa Chandra Moskowitz (Da Capo Press, 2009).

When I’m cooking at home, I have a particularly hard time finding recipes for breakfasts or brunches that really float my boat. Despite having a sweet tooth as ferocious as a yeti, I’m not particularly fond of overly sweet foods in the morning. When Vegan Brunch debuted, it was like a revolution in my frying pan; I’d never dared to imagine that a bowl of pureed tofu could lead to amazingly fluffy omelettes that are far tastier and versatile than their egg-based cousins. Vegan Brunch is still the only major book in the category of vegan breakfast cookbooks. Whether you’re a fan of breakfast at any time of the day or a breakfast-is-only-for-the-morning traditionalist, this book should definitely be on your bookshelf.

3. Vegan Artisan Cheese

Vegan Artisan Cheese

By Miyoko Schinner (Book Publishing Company, 2012).

Although it will be likely be said many times to come by other cookbook reviewers, it bears repeating that Miyoko Schinner’s Vegan Artisan Cheese is a ground-breaking work that will forever change how vegans and non-vegans alike view dairy-free cheeses. Applying culturing and aging techniques traditionally used in making their dairy-based equivalents, Schinner has created a variety of nut-based cheeses that resemble many traditional favourites, such as a creamy brie; an aged, sharp cheddar; a hard, grateable parmesan; and a fresh mozzarella very similar to the buffalo mozzarella used in Italian cuisine. Many of the recipes in the book require a bit of planning and, sometimes, a lot of patience as the cheeses age for days or even weeks to their perfect ripeness. Never again, though, will anyone will be able to say with any conviction, “I’d go vegan, except for the cheese. I love cheese!” With a little effort, nearly everyone can happily indulge in the delicious cheese-laden dishes of their dreams.

4. The Asian Vegan Kitchen

The Asian Vegan Kitchen

By Hema Parekh (Kodansha International, 2007).

I admit that I am one of those cooks who judges a book—and its recipes—by its cover, and I was delighted with this book the moment I laid eyes on it. The sumptuous vegetable masala pictured on the cover hints at the delicious gems within the book’s pages. Arranged according to country, the book includes traditional recipes from Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam, among other countries. Mouth-wateringly gorgeous photos accompany some of the recipes, and the author includes the traditional names of the dishes along with their anglicized names. While there are a few unusual ingredients called for, such as angel mushrooms, candlenuts, and mizuna leaves, many of the dishes call for common ingredients that can be found in most well-stocked markets or purchased online. If you’ve never experienced the Thai fried noodle dish mee grob, the Indian semolina pudding sheera, or the Japanese spinach salad horenso no goma-ae, this cookbook will introduce you to a delicious new world of cooking.

5. Viva Vegan!

Viva Vegan!

By Terry Hope Romero (Da Capo Press, 2010).

Viva Vegan! is a marvellous collection of traditional recipes from all over Latin America. Even if you’re a seasoned lover of Latin foods, Terry Hope Romero’s first solo cookbook will have you falling head-over-heels in love with the cuisine all over again. Offerings include popular foods such as Salvadorian stuffed pupusas, unforgettable Venezuelan arepas, Caribbean-inspired tostones, and tortilla-like Mexican sopes. Also included are simpler recipes, such as savoury homemade refried beans (far more affordable than store-bought cans of the stuff), addictive pickled red onions, and a delicious guacamole that, as with the author, will be the only one you ever make. Included throughout the book are helpful primers on subjects such as dried chiles, essential cooking tools, choosing plantains, and how to roll up burritos. Cookbooks as creative as this one will have you discovering many new much-loved dishes for years to come.

6. Vegan Yum Yum

Vegan Yum Yum

By Lauren Ulm (Health Communications, 2009).

There have been times I’ve been known to foolishly pass up a recipe because it sounded boring and—as my imagination was lacking—there was no accompanying picture to help whet my appetite. Bright, crisp, glossy photos of recipes are a sure-fire way to get almost anyone excited about food, and this is where Vegan Yum Yum excels above most other vegan cookbooks. One hundred and seventy-four of the book’s 290 pages feature gorgeous, detailed full-colour photos of many of Lauren Ulm’s beautiful creations. Some of the book’s stand-out recipes—of which there are many—include mini blueberry tarts with lemon cream, the much-lauded Hurry Up Alfredo, Chinese broccoli wontons in ginger-soy broth, smoky miso tofu sandwiches, and chard Florentine on toast points. Vegan Yum Yum is simply a gorgeous and inspiring example of how the average person can bust-a-move in the kitchen and easily create some very satisfying food. If ever there were a cookbook to convince someone on the spot that vegan cuisine is both enticing and delicious, this would be it.

7. Veganomicon


By Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero (Marlowe & Company, 2007).

There has never been another vegan cookbook more massively popular the world over than Veganomicon. As the name implies, the book is the magnum opus of vegan cuisine, becoming as significant a reference to novice and seasoned cooks alike as The Joy of Cooking has become a mainstay in the world of continental American cuisine. It’s not just the amazing array of recipes offered in the book that make it a notable work; it’s also the easy-to-navigate layout of the text, as well as the book’s helpful headnotes and endnotes that make this cookbook a must-have. While I personally don’t need yet another cookbook with an introduction that tells me how to stock a pantry, Veganomicon differs from other books in that it offers up useful introductions on subjects such as “How to Cook a Grain”—that section highlights a number of different grains, their uses, and, of course, how to cook them. Also incredibly useful is the appendix, which arranges the recipes in the book according to icons that denote the recipe types, such as gluten-free recipes and recipes under 45 minutes. Even if you’re not much for cooking and don’t have more than a cookbook or two to your name, adding Veganomicon to your bookshelf will ensure you need not ever look further for dinner inspiration again.

5 thoughts on “Seven must-have vegan cookbooks

  1. thanks for the tips nicole (and hi stephen!). is veganomicon heavily reliant on soy, and fake meat/cheese products? thanks!

    • Hi Anna:

      The book has a little more than 250 recipes, and about 122 of them are soy-free, so that’s almost half the book. For recipes that called for soy milk, I imagine you could simply swap soy for rice, almond, or hemp milk.
      Also, say you wanted to make an omelette, and a recipe called for using pureed tofu but you’d rather avoid tofu. You could actually use besan/chickpea flour instead. There’s lots of recipes for chickpea flour omelettes online (you can also make frittatas and quiches with chickpea flour). Likewise, you could use rice flour (look up bahn xeo for an example) or lentil flour (as used to make dosas) to make omelettes or thick crepes instead of tofu.
      As for fake meat products, the cookbook’s authors generally call for using seitan (a wheat gluten-based faux meat), tofu, or tempeh. They usually provide the recipes for the seitan. Tofu and tempeh are a lot less processed, so you could sub those two items for seitan if you wanted to.
      So far as I remember, the book is not that big on processed cheese products. When it comes to “cheesy” sauces, the authors seem to lean more toward home-made sauces using nutritional yeast and a few other simple ingredients.

      Hope this helps!

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