The Covid-19 pandemic has altered the way people eat and has laid bare problematic production and labor issues in the meat industry. Shifts toward plant-based diets had begun pre-pandemic—The Economist declared 2019 the “year of the vegan,” with a quarter of 25- to 34-year-old Americans identifying as vegans or vegetarians—and Elizabeth Kulhanek, associate editor at Grand Central, notes how current events have prompted even more people to rethink their choices. “The crisis has changed people’s lifestyles,” she says. “They’re looking to make changes to be healthier and more sustainable.”
Michelle Cehn and Toni Okamoto, coauthors of The Friendly Vegan Cookbook (BenBella, Nov.), have observed the move toward plant-based eating over the last decade via their websites and on social media. Okamoto, who is Mexican American, made a point of including foods from her heritage and others often underrepresented in vegan cookbooks, in addition to typical fare. “We wanted to be aware and understanding of cultural connections to food,” she says.
While The Friendly Vegan Cookbook is inclusive—pumpkin spice latte on one page, horchata on another—other fall titles, such as East by Meera Sodha (Flatiron, Oct.), center non-Western cultures and the global south. “The vegetable aisle is the most exciting aisle in the supermarket,” Sodha says. “There’s been innovation going on for hundreds of years in the food cultures of other countries, and it’s about time we stop looking at the Beyond Burger share price and spend more time understanding these food cultures.”
This season, a healthy harvest of vegan, vegetarian, and vegetable-forward cookbooks reach across readerships.
Many of the recipes for sides, mains, and desserts here have been featured in Sodha’s popular vegan column in the Guardian. The book draws on her travels to South Asia and her friendships with East and Southeast Asian home cooks and gourmet chefs, expanding on the geographical focus of her previous titles, 2015’s omnivorous Made in India (32,000 print copies sold, per NPD BookScan) and 2018’s Fresh India, a vegetarian cookbook.
In this cookbook/travelogue, Massoud, an actor and founder of the Evolving Vegan brand, shares recipes from plant-based restaurants across North America. A variety of cuisines are represented—Bolivian fare from San Francisco’s Peña Pachamama, Ethiopian staples from Brooklyn’s Bunna Cafe—in this cookbook for the vegan-curious.
The Friendly Vegan Cookbook
Cehn, whose World of Vegan website has 1.1 million Instagram followers and 95,000 YouTube subscribers, and Okamoto, of the Plant-Based on a Budget website and Instagram account (397,000 followers), focus on shared meals in their joint effort. Recipes for dishes such as breakfast burritos, barbecued pulled jackfruit, and shepherd’s pie are augmented by shopping lists and directions for DIY nut milks, dressings, and more.
The 100 dessert recipes in this book were first published in the author’s quarterly lifestyle publication, Naturally, Danny Seo, which also spawned 2016’s Naturally, Delicious (Avery/Krauss). He aims to up the nutritional content of desserts by, for instance, incorporating eggplant into brownies or quinoa into cake.
No-Bake Vegan Desserts
Leopold, whose Addicted to Dates Instagram account has 136,000 followers, devotes chapters in her book to nondairy ice cream and “cheezecakes.” Recipes for such treats as lemon meringue pie and salted caramel doughnuts are naturally sweetened with agave and maple syrup.
Board-certified pediatrician Shah, nutrition director for the Pediatric Integrative Medicine Fellowship at Stanford University, and Davis, a registered dietitian, take a nutrition-based approach while keeping the needs of busy families in mind. Recipes steer clear of complicated, time-consuming techniques, and the authors provide meal plans and pantry-stocking tips.
The first cookbook collaboration between Belfrage, who works in the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen, and the eponymous chef and restaurateur is more science oriented than previous Ottolenghi efforts. Through more than 100 vegetarian and vegan recipes, the authors illustrate key cooking reactions, ideal flavor pairings, and complementary ingredients, and urge cooks to experiment once they master the fundamentals.
Beginning with 1984’s Vegetariana, Atlas has written several vegetarian and vegan cookbooks, often contributing illustrations as well. Here, she offers recipes that incorporate branded protein alternatives (Beyond Meat, Impossible Burger, and Good Catch) and provides details for creating meat substitutions from scratch.
Simply Delicious Vegan
YouTuber Shoemaker (720,000 subscribers) focuses on vegan cooking that is also gluten-free, oil-free, and refined sugar–free. Her YouTube channel and accompanying website, From My Bowl, are targeted at young adults and working professionals, and the book reflects that readership, as in the headnotes for one recipe: “Like most millennials,” she writes, “I’ve made avocado toast a steady staple in my diet.”
Vegetarian Chinese Soul Food
A vegetarian follow-up to the author’s Chinese Soul Food (2018), this cookbook includes 75 takes on American Chinese classics, such as Crystal Dumplings with Squash and Peas. Like its predecessor, the new book attempts to make Chinese cooking accessible and unintimidating to the uninitiated.
Veggie from the Start
Boyett, a mother of three who shares recipes under the Instagram handle Little Veggie Eats, reassures parents that early nutrition is possible without meat. Her 70 vegetarian recipes are grounded in the baby-led weaning philosophy, and include vegan substitutions, along with ones without nuts, gluten, eggs, or dairy.
The Vegucated Family Table
Providing guidance on raising a vegan child from age five months through elementary school, Wolfson, a filmmaker, and Delhauer, a recipe developer, include more than 125 recipes, as well as tips for navigating holidays, school lunches, and play dates. Options include the Instagram-friendly Baby’s First Birthday Smash Cake and the reimagined staple PBJ Smoothie Bowl.