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Customer Review

13 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Many casual browsers will be put off the book thanks to the start and that would be a shame, 14 Dec. 2012
This review is from: Vegan Eats World (Hardcover)
Here is a book that left this reviewer with mixed feelings. A sort of confusion if you like.
The concept itself is simple. Hundreds of recipes that are suitable for a vegan diet, underscored by an ecological motive to 'save the planet.' It is just a question as to whether this book was 'preaching to the converted' as there seemed to be, at times, a bit of a clash of identities and meanings.
Beginning with a fairly heavy, slightly oppressive, fundamentalist manifesto for veganism this book managed to annoy this reviewer in quick order and if he did not have to read the book regardless it probably would have been cast aside. Those who are vegan will already be converted to the cause and those who are wavering or just considering adding some vegan recipes to their food repertoire without fully eschewing meat might feel hectored. It just feels wrong and a bit too pushy, which is a shame as undoubtedly the sentiments come from the heart and there can be many valid points within the introductory text. The best way to describe the feeling is to consider an unwelcome visitor on your doorstep pushing their religious beliefs whilst letting enthusiasm get in the way of their presentation. That said, fortunately there are not many pages in this vein before a sense of normality comes back to the book. 
The reader is then taken truly back to to the first step, should it be necessary, with an introduction on how to cook - or "Kitchen Cartography: Mapping Your Way To A Brave New Vegan Cuisine" as the author calls it. It is more than an overview of vegan cooking and how it might differ (for those who are coming from a non-vegan lifestyle). It even teaches you things such as how to cut vegetables (!). Food ingredients, cuisine styles and typical kitchen equipment are also considered in great detail. For the unwary or the inexperienced cook these can be a essential reading and should this level of detail not be necessary it is easily bypassed.
So the recipes? After several key spice blends it is time to look at the 'three protein Amigos' as tofu, seitan and tempeh are referred to. After that the recipes are split into chapters for pickles, chutneys and sauces; salads, spreads and sandwiches; soups; curries, stews and beans; dumplings, breads and pancakes; asian noodles and paste; entrees; vegetable entrees and sides; rice & whole grains and one pot dishes and finally sweets.
The recipes themselves are great both in variety, scope and likelihood to please. It is just a shame, contends this reviewer, that the introductory text managed to set things off on the wrong foot. Each recipe is concisely presented with a series of icons that identify various things like a typical maximum cooking time, whether cheaper ingredients are used, level of difficulty, low fat and various allergy-specific information. Recipes are also cross-indexed by these icons later on in the book and this seems a great approach that other books should emulate. The instructions are clear and to the point. For the unwary though, there are no full colour images of each dish - this might be a deal breaker for some.
After all of this a number of sample menus, various online resources and a detailed series of indices are offered up to round off the book.
Overall as a package, this reviewer is not so sure if it works, mostly due to the hectoring tone taken at the start of the book. As a collection of recipes, if one can ignore the start, this might be a great little collection of recipes both for the die-hard vegan and also for even meat-eaters who are happy to broaden their horizon and see that veganism is not automatically a boring, tasteless means of eating. This reviewer though feels that many casual browsers will be put off the book thanks to the start and that would be a shame.
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