Embarking on a Vegan Journey

Food52 Vegan: 60 Vegetable-Driven Recipes for Any Kitchen, by Gena Hamshaw, (Ten Speed Press), 160 pages, 100 photos, release date 22 September, 2015

Gena Hamshaw’s Food52 Vegan is a good starting point for anyone interested in an open-ended introduction to vegan cooking. The recipes range from the familiar to the not-too-exotic and cover everything from breakfast to dessert. Go-To Pancakes and Peach Crumble Coffee Cake (both in the breakfast section) fall into the familiar category. Not-too-exotic options include dishes like Cauliflower and Oyster Mushroom Tacos, Zucchini Quinoa Cakes, and Smoky Tempeh and Hummus Sandwiches (all in the main dishes section).

This breadth is both the book’s strength and its weakness. It makes vegan eating possible at any time of the day or on any occasion, but with sixty recipes spanning six categories—including appetizers, soups, and salads in addition to the categories mentioned above—the options in any one category are limited. In other words, this is a book that can get you started with vegan cooking, but it isn’t a book that will enable you to make a commitment to vegan living on a daily basis.

The author, Gena Hamshaw, writes the “New Veganism” column for the web site Food52, and part of her message is that veganism isn’t an all-or-nothing choice. Vegan meals are delicious and healthy, whether you eat them every day or only a few times a week. If this is the approach you’re taking, the high breadth-to-depth ratio of the book will work in your favor.

All sixty recipes are illustrated with photos—yummy, hunger-inducing photos—which also makes the book welcoming to those new to veganism. Can’t imagine what animal-free meals look like? Here you go—and, boy, do they look good.

If you’re already vegan, this book may be of somewhat limited use, but if veganism is a new part-time or full-time adventure you’re about to embark on, Food52 Vegan can get you off to a good start.

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