I like a challenge as much as the next person. Cooking without any meat, dairy or eggs is a pretty big challenge for me, but every once in a while I do go vegan. My problem with most vegan cookbooks is they tend to veer off into the realm of meat substitutes. Frankly, if I want to eat meat, I will, so I prefer more creative approaches.

To get inspired and learn new cooking techniques there are two cookbooks I rely on, Veganomicon and The Accidental Vegan. Veganomicon was written by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, two hipsters and founders of the Post Punk Kitchen. Some great recipes from the book include Pasta e Fagioli and Chickpeas Romesco.

The Accidental Vegan by Devra Gartenstein features recipes that are very straightforward and easy to cook. They are definitely the type of recipes that will make you forget you are not eating meat. The Greek Lentil Soup, Szechuan Noodle Salad, Fennel Tapenade and Baba Ganoush recipes are all keepers. Sadly many of the dessert recipes often use non-hydogenated margarine which does not appeal to me.

jill2I spoke to author, teacher and dietician, Jill Nussinow the “Veggie Queen” to to get her thoughts on the subject:

“I think that the big key to going vegan is to make food taste great no matter what. Many ethnic dishes are or can be vegan easily — think Thai (minus fish sauce and substitute tamari or Bragg’s liquid amino acids), Mexican minus the cheese, Indian, Japanese, Chinese. Classic combos such as rice, beans and tortillas are vegan. The salsa and guacamole are too.”

“Use the freshest food that that you can buy and don’t expect anything to taste like meat because it doesn’t. One of the worst things to do is buy vegan cheese or some kind of meat substitute and think that it’s going to be the same as eating whatever it resembles, at least by name.”

Here are my tips for incorporating more vegan meals into your diet:

Cook Asian & Middle Eastern Food
These cuisines are loaded with easy vegan dishes such as Hummus, Thai Style Vegetable Curry, Tofu Stir Fried with Shiitake Mushrooms and Chinese Peas.

Concoct Creamy Soups
Making soup is a great way to use a variety of vegetables. Pureeing cooked corn, black beans or potatoes will yield a creamy soup without any dairy.

Build Hearty Salads
Salads made from ingredients like avocados, bulgur, edamame and shredded vegetables are anything but rabbit food.

Don’t Forget to Snack!
Dips and spreads made from beans, nuts, and even roasted vegetables can be tasty and nutritious.

Invest in Olive Oil
Olive oil adds flavor and nutrition and can often be used in place of butter. Try it in mashed potatoes, popcorn and on garlic bread.

If you have tips of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments section.

Go Vegan 9 March,2009Amy Sherman

  • Yay!! Love the vegan-friendly blog entries! Keep ’em coming!

    Some great vegan recipe sites:


    I encourage everyone to try new things! That was the most satisfying part about going vegan for me: discovering tempeh, passionfruit, habanero peppers, and many other ingredients and cuisines I was exposed to once I started looking around!

  • Great topic, Amy! I love the creativity in vegetarian and vegan recipes. I’m one of those new flexitarians- eating *mostly* vegan except for a little fish and meat (I’m allergic to dairy, eggs, poultry, soy and legumes). And- I have celiac. So it’s a challenge. But fun. And I’m not alone. The most popular page on my blog is the Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes page.

    I couldn’t agree more about olive oil- I use it on bread, pasta, mashed potatoes. So flavorful. Alternatives for milk are expanding; I love the new hemp milks (high in Omegas). Hemp Dream is a favorite- both vanilla and plain. And coconut milk is fab in soups, sweet potatoes, stir-fry sauces, desserts.

    My biggest challenge has been coming up with a vegan mayo without soy. I’m going to be experimenting with salba sedds (aka chia)- highly nutritious seeds that gel when whipped in hot liquid. Wish me luck.

  • Truff

    I don’t have a problem with a vegan diet, but I do have a problem with vegans. I lump them with attorneys in that both groups can be safely judged to be miserable, horrible people that you want to avoid. I’d rather chew my arm off than spend time with a vegan, so I really have no interest in becoming one of their holier-than-thou, fun-hating number.

  • Geri from Las Vegas

    Hi Amy —

    Thanks for this. I collect good vegan recipes as I like to include them when I entertain. If they are good, everyone can eat them, and the vegans at least get some interesting party food.


Amy Sherman

Amy Sherman began blogging in 2003, because all her
friends and family were constantly asking her where
and what to eat. Three months after it launched,
Forbes chose her blog, Cooking with Amy, as one of the
top five best food blogs, praising her writing as
“smart, cozy and witty”. Since then her blog has been
featured and recipes reprinted in many newspapers and
magazines in the U.S. and the world.

In addition to regularly updating her blog, Amy is a
guest contributor to the Epicurious.com blog, and
Contributing Editor of Glam Dish. She also writes
restaurant reviews for SF Station.

Her focus on Bay Area Bites is primarily cookbook
reviews along with some interviews and current events.

Amy is a recipe developer and freelance food writer.
She is author of WinePassport: Portugal and wrote the new introduction to the classic cookbook, Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book, published by the University of Nebraska Press. She recently completed 45 recipes for a Williams-Sonoma cookbook and wrote her first piece for VIA magazine.

She is currently serving on the board of the San Francisco Professional Food Society and is a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals. Amy lives in San Francisco with her husband, tech journalist Lee Sherman.

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