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Going Vegan, Joni Marie Newman & Gerrie Lynn Adams (Fair Winds Press, 2014)

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Going Vegan is subtitled “The Complete Guide to Making a Healthy Transition to a PLANT-BASED LIFESTYLE”.   The book lives up to this subtitle well and that’s saying a lot for a book with such a lofty goal that is under 200 pages. 

It begins with chapters on the reasons to be plant-based, including health, helping the environment, helping the wallet, and saving animal life.  The book also tells us how to stock a vegan kitchen.  It provides us with sample menu plans to cover two weeks, with shopping lists, and with an additional section entitled “Beyond the Plate” that is oriented to issues with others who may not like you eating healthier and more responsibly.  In addition, the book provides a good index (something some books don’t). 

If you are looking for a cookbook chock full of recipes only, this isn’t the book for you as only half of the book provides recipes.  However, I encourage you to still consider it.  The recipes included have been chosen carefully for variety and ease of preparation.   We tried the excellent “New England-Can-Kiss-My-Clam Chowder” (which we made with king oyster mushrooms rather than the suggested seitan).  We also left the seaweed in and loved it that way.  (However, there is a bit of confusion in this recipe regarding the cheesecloth use.)  We also tried the Broccoli Potato “Cheese” Soup which is quite good, although I wouldn’t include “cheese” in the title as the cheesy taste was not strong.  Still, it was a very good and substantial soup.  The Sweet and Smoky Tempeh Strips were divine whether eating as a snack, on a sandwich (think “BLT”, healthy version) or crumbled onto a salad.  And it’s easy to make this dish a little more or less sweet, garlicky or spicy. 

We prepared the Black Bean and Roasted Veggie Tacos and they provided an interesting and different combination of flavors for tacos, including eggplant (which I love).  I’d encourage cooking the onions longer than recommended in the book’s recipe, but that’s personal preference.  The recipe resulted in our being left with such a large amount of roasted veggies that we used them in the Black Bean and Summer Squash Enchiladas recipe the next night.  The main difference in this recipe was that eggplant was not in the Enchilada recipe.  This is an example of the versatility that the recipes presented in this book inspire.  

The recipes in this book offer a lot of possibilities and it’s easy to envision those possibilities.  If you want a book to support you in the “hows and whys” of eating vegan with a variety of selected, delicious recipes, this book is an excellent choice.  We are long time vegans and we still enjoyed the recipes offered in this book and found the information it provided informative.  This book deserves a spot on your bookshelves.       

Justina Walls (9-29-2014)