I went vegan two months ago--something I never thought I could do. Giving up meat, I knew I could handle; but giving up cheese, cream and yogurt? Impossible. Still, what I had learned about the dairy industry compelled me to give it my best shot, so I immediately bought 3 vegan cookbooks to help me with the somewhat daunting task of eliminating animal products from my diet. And I must admit that, of the 3 cookbooks I bought, this is the one that has gotten the most use by far, even though it's the smallest of the three.
Perhaps I am biased, because I love spicy food? I'm not sure. What I do know is that the recipes in here are fabulous. I haven't tried all of them--far from it; I've only tried a handful--but those that I have made have been so delicious and easy to make that I keep making them over and over again before trying new ones, just because I know I love them. My very favorite is the Chickpea and Green Bean Curry, which I have made several times now for omnivorous friends who all love it and agree that there is nothing missing. But the Lentils in Onion Gravy (don't be fooled--it's an absolutely delicious Indian dal with amazing flavor; the name is deceptive) are right up there with the curry. The Moroccan Chickpea Soup was bursting with flavor. The Nigerian Peanut Stew is one of the most interesting (and heartiest) meals I've ever made. And there are so many others I can't wait to try...
The only recipe so far that has disappointed me was, ironically, the very first one I tried, a Spicy Eggplant and Potato Stew with chickpeas. I don't know if I made it wrong, or if I just don't like that recipe much, but I was disappointed, and almost thought that I wasn't going to like the cookbook. Luckily I decided to give it another chance, and since that first letdown, every single recipe I've made has been fabulous and has been just as pleasing to the (omnivorous) friends I've fed it to as it has to me.
I like the way the author has divided the cookbook into geographical sections, which is different from the set-up of most cookbooks where they're divided by ingredients. I also like that there is not an emphasis on reproducing meat tastes and textures. Since I've given up real meat, I have no particular desire to eat "fake meat"; there are plenty of dishes that are perfectly delicious all on their own without having to try to substitute fake meat or cheese products. And I am always so proud to cook for my friends (I'm the only vegan among my good friends) and see how much they actually enjoy my vegan food. I try never to be self-righteous when explaining my new lifestyle choice, nor to point a finger at anyone who hasn't adopted it, especially since it has only been a couple of months for me. But I think that if I can manage to convince people who are utterly persuaded that they could never be content without eating animal products that you CAN eat really well as a vegan and not even miss those things, then maybe I am helping to set the stage and get the wheels in their mind turning and maybe one day when they're ready they will join me.