Book Reviews

75 Exciting Vegetables For Your Garden

By Jack Staub with illustrations by Ellen Buchert

75 Exciting Vegetables for Your Garden is a hardcover book I’m sure many VJ readers would love to get their hands on. All the vegetables discussed in this book are suited to American cultivation, yet many gardeners are not familiar with these varieties. The author feels that every serious vegetable gardener should be acquainted with these vegetables. Fortunately, vibrant watercolor images are provided to help the reader visualize the plants. Please note that many of the suggestions for preparing the vegetables are not vegetarian. However, you will easily be able to create your own veggie dishes with these foods.

Among the intriguing vegetables covered in this book is the Carrot Thumbelina. Due to its novel beet-like shape, this root vegetable can grow in rocky soil where long carrots would not fare well. It sounds like it would be wonderful roasted. Another vegetable discussed is Lollo Rossa Lettuce, which is an Italian heirloom variety with curly leaves, a green interior, and an intense deep red edge. This would make a colorful addition to any tossed salad.

75 Exciting Vegetables for Your Garden (ISBN 1-58685-250-7) is published by Gibbs Smith, Publisher. It is 240 pages and costs $24.95. Look for it in your local bookstore or order it online. Reviewed by Debra Wasserman.

Meat Market: Animals, Ethics, And Money

By Erik Marcus

I attended an excellent talk by Erik Marcus and purchased his latest book, Meat Market, on the spot. As Marcus says in his introduction, this book was written to provide information about the problems with animal agriculture and to give readers practical ideas to take action, either for welfare reforms (for readers who are comfortable with eating animal-based foods) or for the dismantling of the farm animal industry.

The first 60 or so pages of Meat Market are painful and moving reading. I think it would be almost impossible for a non-vegan to read these pages and not make dietary changes immediately. While I cannot comment on the accuracy of the facts in this section, the book does contain detailed documentation of all statements.

The next part of the book focuses on actions to help farm animals. Marcus calls for a new movement with an aim of eliminating animal agriculture that will complement work being done by vegetarian, animal rights, and animal welfare groups. This movement would focus on the cruel nature of animal agriculture and would work to build public disgust, ultimately leading to the elimination of the animal agriculture industry. He includes specific ideas for the development of this movement and how it can be most successful.

The book ends with essays from a number of activists describing opportunities in an array of areas, including working for school lunch reform, becoming a medical doctor, and starting a local vegetarian society. The book’s appendices include information on environmental consequences of cattle production, fishing boats, and fish farms.

Meat Market is well-written, thought-provoking, and inspiring. It is a book to read, contemplate, share with others, and act upon.

Meat Market: Animals, Ethics, and Money (ISBN 0975867911) is published by Brio Press and is 273 pages. Look for this book in hardcover or paperback in your local bookstore or order it online. Reviewed by Reed Mangels, PhD, RD.

Happier Meals

By Danielle Nierenberg

Happier Meals: Rethinking the Global Meat Industry is Worldwatch Institute’s Paper 171. This nonprofit is known for its reports on environmental sustainability and social justice. The book focuses on the fact that global meat production has increased five times since 1950, and factory farming is the fastest growing method of meat production worldwide. It’s refreshing to see this topic, which has great environmental and ethical implications, being discussed with environmentalists in mind.

Happier Meals (ISBN 1-878071-77-7) is available from Worldwatch Institute, or call (888) 544-2011. Reviewed by Debra Wasserman.

125 Best Vegan Recipes

By Maxine Effenson Chuck and Beth Gurney

There are so many vegan cookbooks that I often doubt a new release will offer the reader anything new and creative. 125 Best Vegan Recipes does provide recipes that you would expect to find in nearly any vegan cookbook, but it also offers many unique dishes.

A few recipes that would pique even the most seasoned vegan chef’s interest are Spicy Pecans, which would make a great snack or a handy garnish for salads or desserts, and Curried Carrot and Pear Soup, which can be served hot or chilled. Other options include Savory Artichoke Pie, the simple-to-prepare Fudge Pie, and Granola Bars, a great choice for breakfast on-the-run.

This book is very family-friendly, offering dishes that children will enjoy as much as adults will. And kids will love to help you prepare the Crispy Cinnamon Roll-Ups.

125 Best Vegan Recipes includes a number of beautiful full-color photos that will make even non-vegetarians crave the food! Please note, however, that nutritional analyses are not provided.

125 Best Vegan Recipes (ISBN 0-7788-0113-6) is 192 pages and is published by Robert Rose, Inc., of Toronto, Canada. Firefly Books, Inc., distributes this book in the U.S., where it retails for $18.95. You can also order it online. Reviewed by Debra Wasserman.

The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook

By Cathe Olson

Pregnancy is a time when many women become interested in nutrition and in making better food choices. A new cookbook supports this interest and is geared specifically to vegetarian women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and to their families.

The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook includes more than 300 recipes, approximately 90 percent of which are vegan or have vegan options. Most utilize familiar ingredients and are generally simple to follow. Recipes that can be prepared in 35 minutes or less are identified, as are dishes that can be made in advance and frozen—a nice touch for those busy days right after the baby’s birth. Selections include Tortilla Soup, Roasted Root Vegetable Salad, Butternut Lasagna, and Baked Carob Crullers. All recipes include nutritional information.

The book has a short section on vegetarian nutrition in pregnancy and includes ideas for coping with morning sickness, fatigue, a colicky baby, and other common concerns.

This book would make a terrific gift for a vegetarian family or a vegetarian family-to-be.

The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook (ISBN 0-9724690-6-0) is published by Goco Publishing. It has 430 pages and retails for $21.95. Look for this volume in your local bookstore or online. Reviewed by Reed Mangels, PhD, RD.

Vive Le Vegan!

By Dreena Burton

Dreena Burton, the author of The Everyday Vegan, has another winner. Vive le Vegan! was written after her first child was born and reflects her need to prepare quick, easy, and nutritious meals.

While some recipes can take awhile to cook, most don’t require a lot of attention. I can’t wait to try Celebrity Adzuki Bean and Rice Cakes, as well as Chickpea Ratatouille. My daughters are clamoring for Double Chocolate Almond Explosion Cookies and Creamy Raspberry Oatmeal.

The book does not include nutritional information for recipes, but Burton uses limited amounts of oils and sweeteners, focusing more on beans, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and hemp products. Some recipes do use soy products, but the author doesn’t rely heavily on soy’s many forms, a welcome relief after reading several new vegan cookbooks that use soy products in almost every recipe.

A short section on feeding vegan babies and toddlers includes food ideas for different ages and suggestions for preparing your own baby food. However, it does not include information on key nutrients for vegan babies and toddlers, such as vitamin B12 and vitamin D.

Overall, Vive le Vegan! offers a creative, whole foods approach to vegan cooking.

Vive le Vegan! (ISBN 1-55152-169-5) is published by Arsenal Pulp Press. It has 190 pages and retails for $19.95. Look for this book in your local bookstore or online. Reviewed by Reed Mangels, PhD, RD.