Monday, 13 October 2014

Meatless All Day: Cookbook Review

Disclaimer: I received a free electronic preview copy of this book from Net Galley. I did not receive any compensation for my review.
Please see my page, Cookbook Criteria, for what I look for in a cookbook.
I really wish that carnivores would quit trying to write vegan/vegetarian cookbooks. It seems that, since more and more people are pursuing a plant-based diet, the cookbook authors want to cash in on the trend. And the results are sometimes comical as well as disappointing. This particular cookbook starts off by instructing us how to cook eggs, which is probably an indication that you won't find much vegan fare here. After some other basic cooking information, the author then provides a list of what she refers to as power ingredients that are supposed to add a "meaty" flavour and/or texture to the dishes. Really, what's wrong with the flavour and texture of plant-based food without having to doctor it up with "power ingredients." I have been a vegetarian for over 38 years, mostly vegan for more than 20 of those. About half of the items on this list, I have never or seldom tried. Of the remaining items, I can't say that I used them for the purpose she is listing them here. Dried fruit to provide a meaty taste and texture? Sounds pretty odd to me. And she uses beets to replace meat. I don't particularly care for beets, but even if I did, I could not honestly describe them as "meaty" in taste or texture.
But that is one of the problems with a carnivore writing a vegetarian textbook. They can't wrap their minds around not having some tough gristle to chew on. Nor can most of them imagine how to get enough protein without animal products, since they view legumes and whole grains as side dishes, and so they throw as many eggs and dairy products into these recipes as possible. One quarter of the way into the book, I finally found a vegan recipe: Black Bean Burgers with Grilled Mango-Lime Mayonnaise. The following recipe uses tempeh and then it's back to lacto-ovo for numerous recipes before another vegan recipe again appears. Half-way through the book, I had only found 4 or 5 genuinely vegan recipes, plenty of eggs and dairy and few legumes. I would be interested in seeing a nutrient profile for these recipes, specifically the saturated fat and cholesterol content.
The recipe title, Thai Salad with Crispy Tofu and Peanut Dressing, sounded promising until I looked at the list of ingredients and saw that first on the list is 4 large eggs. The preamble for the recipe says to omit the eggs to make the recipe vegan, so why put them in at all? And that's not the only recipe where she pairs eggs with tofu. Even Fried Eggplant-Hummus Sandwiches contains 8 eggs (though the hummus itself is vegan)! In another recipe preamble, the author states that she uses "just 2 tablespoons of butter to keep the dish healthier." Why not use olive oil, or even water saute, to make the dish healthier? Yet again, she says that a recipe is healthful thanks to 2% milk and whole grain pasta, ignoring the butter and cheese included in the ingredients.
I don't deny that a lot of these recipes sound yummy, but even for a lacto-ovo cookbook, they are very heavy on the eggs and dairy. Not making room on my cookbook shelf for this one.