9 best vegan cookbooks

Discover new and nutritious plant-based dishes to try

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The Independent Online

Vegan living has made huge strides into the mainstream – so much so, PETA was inspired to declare 2016 “the year of the vegan”. Indeed, there are more than half a million vegans living in Britain alone, with at least 542,000 people following a diet that omits any animal products – including meat, fish, milk, cheese, eggs and honey – according to a study commissioned by The Vegan Society. 

And yet, some are still under the impression that meatless cuisine must be bland. A growing body of deliciously inspiring vegan cookbooks, however, is devouring that myth. We’ve curated a list of our favourite recently published vegan cookbooks out there that prove you don’t need meat (or fish or dairy) to make mouth-watering meals.

We should note: some of these cookbooks cover vegetarian recipes that include dairy, with vegan alternatives.

1. Smith & Daughters: A Cookbook (That Happens to be Vegan) by Shannon Martinez and Mo Wyse: £20, Hardie Grant Books

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Shannon Martinez and Mo Wyse from celebrated restaurant Smith & Daughters prove that vegan cooking is anything but bland. The book features seven chapters covering everything from small plates to sweets and drinks, with more than 80 delicious recipes – all with a Spanish twist. Make everything from Spanish “meatballs” (made from a base of oats, lentils and rice) in a saffron almond sauce to delicious chipotle cashew “cheese”. The cookbook also includes dinner party recipes sure to impress guests, from ‘pulled’ jackfruit carnitas that even meat-lovers won’t be able to resist to sangria crumble.

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2. Super Foods Super Fast by Julie Montagu: £18.99, Quadrille 

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A lack of time is no longer an excuse to avoid a vegan lifestyle thanks to yoga and nutrition guru Julie Montagu’s book. Marketed as “plant-based” (although everything here is vegan), the recipes are hearty, wholesome and varied, made using ingredients you can easily pick up at the local supermarket. This easy-to-follow book has separate sections for breakfast, salads, snacks, suppers, square meals, and healthy – rather than super-indulgent – sweets. Each dish takes 20 minutes – or thereabouts – and includes advice on how to multi-task and store food to save time.

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3. The Vegan Bible by Marie Laforet: £25, Grub Street Kitchen

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This in-depth tome by French food blogger Marie Lafornet certainly earns its title. Ideal for those who are done dabbling with veganism and want to get to the core of plant-based living, this comprehensive guide presents the ethical arguments for veganism, has a chapter on nutrition and a run-down of vegan kitchen essentials. Organised by occasions and food-groups rather than mealtimes, the recipes are wonderfully varied - from tagines to crème caramel. The directions are easy to follow and cut to the chase too with no tedious “how my mother used to make it” stories. 

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4. Vegan Street Food by Jackie Kearney: £16.99, Ryland Peters & Small 

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So, you’ve mastered the green quinoa, kale and avocado salad, and you can make mushroom rye toast in your sleep. Get inspired by this book from MasterChef 2011 finalist Jackie Kearney, who presents vegan dishes from her travels across India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Be warned: the 100 recipes are not for beginners and it may take some preparation to track down ingredients in the shops or online. But this book celebrates the myriad, and often accidentally vegan foods of Asia. The recipes are woven together with tales of Kearney’s travels. The result is an exciting book packed with recipes which the average Western palate may be unfamiliar, and proves meat doesn’t need to be the main attraction at mealtimes. With this Kearney's help, dishes like the Malaysian favourite Nasi Lemak, or creamy rice, and Tibetan broth with “momo” dumplings will become impressive additions to your repertoire. 

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5. Vegan Goodness by Jessica Prescott: £15, Hardie Grant

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Prescott’s book is a 101 on plant-based eating. Veggie staples from nut roast, bean burgers, falafels, veg-based brownies, and fail-safe condiments are presented honestly and joyously - consider the “weird ingredients” section - including the herb hing and liquid smoke -  or the “holy shit cake”, so-called because that is what people say when they first bite into it. With added tips, tricks and a helpful list of vegan kitchen essentials (a food processor is a vegan's best friend) this book is perfect for meat-minded individuals dipping their toe into veganism and committed veggies looking for quick go-tos alike.

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6. The Superfun Times Vegan Holiday Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz: £23.99, Little, Brown & Company

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Isa Moskowitz has already made her claim to fame in the vegan cooking world (see: Isa Does It and Veganomicon) and now the queen of vegan cuisine is back with this highly anticipated holiday cookbook. Not only is it packed with 150 mouthwatering recipies for just about any occasion from Christmas to Cinco de Mayo, but the cookbook itself is an entertaining read, packed. Overall, it's the ideal holiday cooking survival guide, especially when it comes to catering to the needs of guests who are picky, allergic or simply meat lovers who may not be easily convinced that a vegan holiday meal might be worthwhile. The buffalo cauliflower and chipotle mac and cheese with roasted brussels sprouts are sure to be crowd pleasers.

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7. The Book of Veganish by Kathy Freston and Rachel Cohn: £16.99, Penguin Random House

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The Book of Veganish combines the talents of bestselling authors Kathy Freston and Rachel Cohn to create a unique toolbox of resources to help teens and young adults explore vegan living. The cookbook includes more than 50 easy-to-create recipes ideal for those with tight budgets and limited cooking tools (students, we’re looking at you). More than just a cookbook, The Book of Veganish is also a guide for young vegans, explaining how to make a healthy and safe move to veganism, as well as how to explain your lifestyle change to non-vegan parents other non-vegans. Overall, this is the perfect gift for any young adult who’s ever expressed interest in going vegan.

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8. The Love & Lemons Cookbook by Jeanine Donofrio: £18.99, Penguin Publishing Group

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True to its name, this is quite a lovely cookbook – especially for those who are looking to make visually appealing (see: Instagram-worthy) dishes using locally sourced ingredients. Organised by ingredient, this cookbook, which began as a blog, shows you how to craft more than 100 delicious meals using different vegetables straight from the farmers market. It's worth noting this one isn't strictly vegan – its recipes are vegetarian with creative vegan and gluten-free options that make it well worthy of this list.

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9. Thug Kitchen 101: Fast as F*ck by Thug Kitchen: £20.82, Rodale Books

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What could possibly better complement your foray into healthy wholesome cooking than a string of expletives to help guide your way in the kitchen? Apparently not a lot, judging by the overwhelming popularity of Thug Kitchen’s first book, Eat Like You Give a F*ck. This third cookbook is one its makers say is sure to put the “ill in trilogy” on their website. We’re not exactly sure how that could be a good thing in the kitchen, but when it comes to tantalising vegan cuisine, Thug Kitchen lives up to its hype. From sweet potato al pastor tacos and pineapple salsa to spaghetti pie (which yes, is exactly what it sounds like) this cookbook is filled with easy-to-master creative takes on all your favourite comfort foods. 

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Verdict 

While it’s hard to settle on just one of these cookbooks, Smith & Daughters: A Cookbook (That Happens to be Vegan) comes out on top as the winner. Its creative recipes, all with a Spanish twist, more than succeed in fulfilling the authors' goal in creating an accessible cookbook full of flavour.

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