Cookbooks for a vegan crash course

Deciding to eat a vegan diet is a lifestyle change that many people struggle with. It is often perceived to be “inconvenient” or somehow “unsatisfying,” and it does not need to be. Arguably, a nonvegan diet is far more inconvenient for animals, the planet and your health.

While the negative health aspects and animal cruelty arguments don’t give everyone pause, many people are rallying behind veganism because of their newfound understanding of the environmental impact that the factory farming of animals has on our environment. Factory farming accounts for 37% of methane emissions, which has more than 20 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide (CO2).

When you consider the millions of acres of deforestation that is happening to make room for more cattle to graze, and the fact that industrial agriculture sucks up 70% of all freshwater on the planet, it quickly becomes obvious that we all need to do our part to reduce the negative impact our lifestyles have on this planet.

Now, there’s no “correct” way to eat a vegan diet. You don’t have to exclusively eat super-healthy foods. Vegan junk food is a thing, folks. You’d be shocked by all of the products you love that are “accidentally vegan”. My personal favorites include: Oreos, Sour Patch Kids and Doritos’ Spicy Sweet Chili flavor.

Going vegan is a process. You’re probably not going to — forgive the expression — go cold turkey on consuming animal products. But you can begin to make different choices. You can choose a veggie option at a restaurant. You can explore the many varieties of vegetable-based burger products. You can even try vegan cheese options. Try Cito’s Cashew Queso. You can buy it at our local farmers market and at the Merc. It’s all of that melty, tasty deliciousness you crave with none of the stomach pain.

There are three tips that I personally find to be essential if you’re going to be vegan:

1. Buy a stovetop steamer. Steam veggies for 5-7 minutes, then roast them at 420 degrees for 10-15 minutes for a perfectly roasted veggie that doesn’t lose its moisture.
2. Find sauces and spices that you love. They’re going to making cooking and eating vegetables infinitely more fun.
3. Get comfortable in the kitchen. There are a million recipes that are simple, require limited ingredients, and don’t take more than an hour from start to finish. Experiment!

We happen to have a plethora of vegan cookbooks here at the Lawrence Public Library. Some, like “Veganomicon,” tend to have holds lists a mile long. Here are nine vegan cookbooks that I pulled off the shelf not 20 minutes ago — and this is just the tip of the iceberg.

You Won’t Believe It’s Vegan! 200 Recipes for Simple and Delicious Animal-Free Cuisine

Vegan Family Favorites

Pure Vegan: 70 Recipes for Beautiful Meals and Clean Living

Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine

Quick and Easy Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Food: 150 Down-Home Recipes Packed with Flavor, not Calories

500 Vegan Recipes: An Amazing Variety of Delicious Recipes, From Chilis and Casseroles to Crumbles, Crisps, and Cookies

The Inspired Vegan: Seasonal Ingredients, Creative Recipes, Mouthwatering Menus

Whole Grain Vegan Baking: More Than 100 Tasty Recipes for Plant-based Treats Made Even Healthier: From Wholesome Cookies and Cupcakes to Breads, Biscuits, and More

Sticky Fingers’ Sweets: 100 Super-secret Vegan Recipes

When you search “vegan cookbooks” in our catalog, there are 154 items that we hold in our collection for you to browse through. Even without the massive amount of resources available online, we have enough recipes to keep you exploring for years. Have fun, be experimental, and know that every time you choose to eat a vegan meal, you are directly contributing to the health and wellness of our entire planet.

— Logan Isaman is the community assessment coordinator at the Lawrence Public Library.