Concerns about health, the environment and animal welfare are driving more and more people toward the plant-based lifestyle, even if it’s only baby steps.
That means more vegan food businesses, more vegan-friendly grocery store aisles and restaurant menu items, and an explosion of vegan blog sites and cookbooks.
One recent milestone was the 2017 publication of “Vegan: The Cookbook” (Phaidon, $49.95), a 478-page globe-hopping, plant-based opus by chef Jean-Christian Jury, who writes that the book was meant to “surprise non-vegans with delicious vegan recipes, to show that meat wasn’t necessary for a delicious and satisfying meal.”
But breezier expressions of vegan cooking are regularly popping up, too.
Recently, the provocatively named plant-based burger concept, the Slutty Vegan, became the hottest food truck in Atlanta. And its young founder, Pinky Cole, soon added a brick-and-mortar storefront that has fans lined up for hours to try suggestive concoctions like the Ménage à Trois, loaded with vegan bacon, shrimp, lettuce, tomato and special sauce.
Like those takes on fast food, cookbooks such as “Alternative Vegan: Healthy Plant-Based Recipes That Break the Rules” by Marie Reginato (Page Street Publishing, $21.99) and “Great Vegan Meals for the Carnivorous Family” by Amanda Logan (Page Street, $21.99) push the boundaries of plant-based, and sometime stir complaints from strict vegans.
Just-released “30-Minute Vegan Dinners” by Megan Sadd (Page Street, $21.99) promises “75 fast plant-based meals you’re going to crave.”
But Sadd, who worked the front of the house at the popular Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q in Atlanta before she moved to Los Angeles and started the plant-based blog and Facebook video channel “Carrots & Flowers,” still has fond memories of those meatier times.
“That was a big part of my life in Atlanta,” she said during a phone call. “I’m still very fond of the Fox brothers. I worked there for years, and I worked at their Big Tex restaurant, too. But I did go vegetarian while working there.
“I’ve always wanted to go vegan, I just never knew how. I never knew what to eat, and it was really confusing. It seemed like it was all about deprivation and everything you couldn’t have. One of the reasons I started my blog was because I wanted to figure out how to eat plant-based. After a few months, I figured it out, and I decided to go fully vegan.”
With fans like musician and activist Moby, Sadd’s blog took off, and she steered her recipes toward familiar dishes that could be made in as little time as possible.
“People like my recipes because they’re very simple and fast to make,” she said. “And I tend to focus on plant-based versions of people’s favorite comfort foods. People want to eat plant-based. They just want it to be easier, and they want more options. And I think people are starting to discover that vegan food can taste just as good. That’s really the selling point.”
Asked where to find the ingredients to cook vegan, Sadd said it was becoming easier than ever.
“Trader Joe’s has really, really upped their vegan game,” she said. “Aside from some spices, they have almost everything you would need to make every recipe in the book. But one other ingredient, tapioca flour, which is used to to make vegan cheez stretchy and melty, you can find at Whole Foods. Even Kroger is upping their plant-based offerings. And you can order on Amazon, too.”
Asked if she wanted to become the Rachael Ray of vegan cooking, Sadd said she was flattered.
“I love that comparison, for sure,” she enthused. “These 30-minute recipes include the prep time. The way I set the recipes up, while you’re starting to cook, you’re still prepping the rest of the things that will join the pan. I wanted to make all the foods people are used to eating, just plant-based and faster.”
These plant-based recipes from four recent vegan cookbooks promise healthy dishes that are easy to make and taste good, too.
Cashew Mozzarella Quesadillas with Fajita Veggies
Megan Sadd, the author of “30-Minute Vegan Dinners,” and the recipe developer and photographer behind the plant-based blog “Carrots & Flowers,” writes that this “mega-easy, melty, stretchy quesadilla” made with cashew mozzarella is “always a hit.”
Adapted from “30-Minute Vegan Dinners” by Megan Sadd (Page Street, $21.99).
One-Pan Pasta with Crispy Brussels Sprouts
Marie Reginato, author of “Alternative Vegan: Healthy Plant-Based Recipes That Break the Rules,” often pushes the envelope of vegan cooking, and writes that this recipe “has everything that makes for great pasta — plus it’s made in one pan.”
Adapted from “Alternative Vegan: Healthy Plant-Based Recipes That Break the Rules” by Marie Reginato (Page Street Publishing, $21.99).
Tastes Like Chicken Pie
Amanda Logan, author of “Great Vegan Meals for the Carnivorous Family,” writes that “This recipe was such a turning point for me. The day these little guys emerged from my oven was the day I knew I could feed a family of fussy carnivores and stay true to my own food journey.”
Adapted from “Great Vegan Meals for the Carnivorous Family” by Amanda Logan (Page Street, $21.99).
Blood Orange Creme Brûlée
A surprisingly simple dessert from “Vegan: The Cookbook” by Jean-Christian Jury, who writes that the recipes in his comprehensive plant-based opus are a “celebration of plant vitality and variety.”
Adapted from “Vegan: The Cookbook” by Jean-Christian Jury (Phaidon, $49.95).
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