I'm a Texan, and like most, I love me some meat. Steaks, chicken, beef, just throw a slap of cooked meat in front of me and I'm a happy guy. That being said, there are plenty of Americans, maybe even a Texan or two, who are meatless eaters. To be fair, I have even tried tofu, and I might have chewed on a garden burger (not that I swallowed), but this carnivore can only do so much. But with people like me, what do you do when you have a family member or friend over the holidays who's a vegan? Trying to offer them a meal that meets their strict dietary needs can be challenging, but luckily, your Abilene Public Library is here to help. It certainly helped me.
Whereas vegetarians primarily cut out meats, vegans go further by not consuming any product produced by an animal, including eggs and dairy products. That hurts me just thinking of it. I decided to delve a little further into the vegan world and needed to become more knowledgeable of what exactly they eat. So if you want to start off simple, to build your own vegan skills for future reference, I suggest starting with Betty Goes Vegan: 500 Classic Recipes for the Modern Family by Annie & Dan Shannon.
This cookbook features recipes inspired by the Betty Crocker Cookbook, as well as hundreds of original, never-before-seen recipes sure to please even meat-eaters. Whether you're exploring the mysteries of tofurky or mystified by seitan, even vegans nostalgic for favorite meat-based dishes will enjoy this cookbook. Although the recipes are great, and easy enough to follow, one of the drawbacks is that you'll find yourself spending a little more time (and money) hunting down the dairy and meat substitutes to use in some of the recipes. However, this vegan cookbook is a great place to start if you want to test the waters and learn a little more on your own.
America's Test Kitchen is a well-known cookbook source, and their The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook: A Fresh Guide to Eating Well with 700 Foolproof Recipes is up to their exacting standards. The publisher says "Whether you're a committed vegetarian or simply want to eat more vegetables and grains, this collection of re-imagined, meatless comfort food and all-new recipes inspired by ethnic cuisines will help you cook and eat well. Of the 709 total recipes, 300 are fast (start to finish in 45 minutes or less), 500 are gluten-free, and 250 are vegan."
The book includes cooking charts and resource materials such as 'All About' pages for key ingredients (like hearty greens and fresh and dried chilis), 'Core Recipe' pages with simple recipes for staples like eggs and rice, easy-to-spot icons for gluten-free and vegan recipes, and hundreds of full-color recipe photos and step-by-step photos.
Even celebrities are putting out their own guides. It's All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great by actress Gwyneth Paltrow, has recipes for the foods she eats when she wants to lose weight, look good, and feel more energetic. Developed under a doctor's prescription, it features no coffee, no alcohol, no dairy, no eggs, no sugar, no shellfish, no deep-water fish, no wheat, no meat, and no soy; nothing processed at all!
A vegan lifestyle isn't for everyone, but like the saying goes, "don't know it 'til you try it." Although it wasn't enough for this Texan to give up dairy and meat for the long haul, there are some pretty tasty foods and meals you can have even if you need a break from steak every once in a while. If you're looking for some unique and interesting meals to try for the holidays, and you need to steer clear from animals, visit your Abilene Public Library and look out for some of our vegan guides and cookbooks. We have plenty to offer, and who knows, you might discover a new favorite dish!
Article Contributed by Tremain Jackson, Manager of the South Branch of the Abilene Public Library