'Veganissimo takes vegan cooking to an exciting new level. It fills the need for a book that not only enhances one's joy in being vegan by showing you how to prepare mouthwatering vegan food, but also helps you maintain a healthier diet.'
Sitting in a café a few months back, I watched an exchange between the waiter and a woman behind the counter. 'We have vegans at table four,' said the waiter, rolling his eyes. This was acknowledged with an (unnecessary, methinks) grumble and slumping of shoulders by the other person. As people learn about new ways to eat, veganism is growing in popularity (but is sometimes viewed with confusion and suspicion), so perhaps it would be helpful if the said café had a copy of Leigh Drew's latest book, Veganissimo, in the kitchen.
Leigh Drew has been a vegan since 2003 and shares her love and enthusiasm for vegan cookery by teaching cooking classes, speaking at festivals, managing vegan cafes, catering and writing cookbooks. She was inspired to become vegan by cooking with her vegan friends, and by her personal discovery that vegan food is fresh and inventive.
So, what is 'veganism'? In the introduction to the book, Ms Drew explains that 'the term vegan was coined by Donald Watson, the founder of the British Vegan Society in 1944, and is representative of the beginning and the end of [the word] vegetarian. Unlike vegetarians, who may decide to eat animal-based foods, such as eggs and dairy products, or continue to wear leather, wool and silk, vegans choose to avoid consuming all animal-based foods; including dairy products, gelatine, honey and eggs; and also abstain from using animal-based items such as leather, silk, wool, and any personal and household products that contain animal by-products or are tested on animals.' Simple enough.
As Ms Drew points out, 'often, vegans will simply cut out all animal products from their diet, without considering how to change their eating patterns to get the best out of the new lifestyle. Learning how to integrate foods such as legumes, soy products, nuts, seeds, whole grains, and a larger variety of vegetables ensures an easier transition, and a healthful long term eating pattern.' On this note, accredited practising dietitian and nutritionist, Amanda Benham, is a contributor to Veganissimo and the nutritional aspects of a planning a healthy vegan diet are well covered. There is also guidance from Ms Drew for new vegan cooks, with helpful building block recipes.
Chapters cover the building blocks of vegan cuisine (equipment, stocking the pantry, legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains, soy and wheat products, nondairy milks and egg substitution). The titles are fun and there are recipes for 'sublime sauces, marinades and dressings', 'bewitching baked goods', wonderful waffles, pancakes and crepes', beguiling breakfasts and brunches', 'charming cheeses, pates, dips and spreads', superb sandwiches, wraps and burgers', 'splendid salads, soups and side dishes', 'pleasing pasta and ravishing rice', 'stunning stews, classy curries and precious pies', and also 'divine desserts'. For ease of reference, there are symbols alongside the recipes, noting low fat, soy free, and gluten free dishes; as well as meals that take 30 minutes or less to prepare.
Veganissimo by Leigh Drew $34.99, Arbon Publishing. Thank you kindly to Leigh Drew and the publicity team at Arbon for giving me the opportunity to review this title and learn about preparing delicious vegan food. Veganissimo is an impressive book and has inspired this non-vegan reviewer and cook to delve into the world of vegan food.
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