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Vegetarian Cookbooks for the Plant-Based Curious

Hi Everyone! Brooke from the Public Relations Team here. If you’ve been following us for a while, you know we often talk about the ways our everyday habits can have an impact on the environment. For example, did you know that the meat industry accounts for 15 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions? That number can feel overwhelming, given just how ingrained meat consumption is in our diets, especially in American culture.

Here at Zoo Atlanta, we believe in making conservation (and health!) choices that are feasible for you as an individual. Even a step as small as practicing Meatless Mondays can have major effects (each meatless day saves 133 gallons of water and reduces your carbon footprint by eight pounds).

If you’re unfamiliar with plant-based meals, reducing your meat intake even minimally can feel daunting, or worse, unappetizing. In today’s blog I’m hoping to demonstrate that meatless meals are neither (or don’t have to be)!

Let me be very clear- I LOVE food, and go absolutely nuts for robust flavors. Unappetizing, bland food is my nightmare. I despise salad. Thus, when I made the switch to a meat-free household a couple years ago (full disclosure: I still will order poultry dishes when eating out), I began a quest for finding cookbooks and food writers who know their way around a delicious, flavor-bombed vegetarian recipe.

In other words, I did the research so you don’t have to! Below you’ll find a small selection of my favorite plant-based cookbooks. These are all sources I use personally, and I will happily die on the hill of recommending them. Treating yourself to a new cookbook, or even just the pleasure of trying something different, can make scaling back your meat consumption feel exciting, rather than like drudgery. And the recipes are so good that you’ll keep coming back for more meatless meals, I promise.

Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen by Richa Hingle

This is my all-time favorite cookbook, and if you’re a fan of Indian food, it’s a must-buy (Indian cuisine is a great place to start for plant-based recipes, as vegetarianism is quite widespread in Indian culture). I am, of course, not vegan, but I don’t miss animal byproducts at all when cooking these recipes. Richa’s recipes are unpretentious and direct, and I’ve never disliked a single thing I’ve cooked from this book. Heads up, you’ll likely need to make a run to your local Indian grocery store to make sure you have all the necessary ingredients (especially spices), but the reward is pretty much immediate. If you enjoy this cookbook, make sure to check out her other books as well- they’re all phenomenal.

  • unmissable recipe: Makhani gravy

To Asia, With Love by Hetty McKinnon

If you’ve never had the Chinese comfort food tomato-egg dish, this cookbook is the perfect place to begin that vital journey. Food critics everywhere love Hetty McKinnon, and I actually didn’t realize this book was strictly vegetarian until about halfway through: I was too distracted by a truly stunning selection of delicious-sounding recipes. McKinnon makes daunting dishes easy and approachable, and ingredients are easily accessible.

  • unmissable recipe: any of the tomato and egg recipes- they’re all so good.

Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking by Dana Schultz

“The Minimalist Baker” was one of the pioneering vegan food blogs, and this cookbook compiles many of her best recipes. The recipes vary from easy to labor-intensive, but the food is always fantastic, and the ingredients are common and familiar.

  • unmissable recipe: pulled barbecue jackfruit sliders

Ottolenghi Simple by Yotam Ottolenghi

The original Ottolenghi cookbook is notorious for recipes that take FOREVER, so this book of simpler recipes is a welcome refresher to me. Yotam Ottolenghi has garnered worldwide fame for elevated Middle Eastern cooking (eating at one of his restaurants in London was an all-time dining experience for me), which makes this an excellent book to have on hand if you want to impress some dinner guests.

  • unmissable recipe: roasted eggplant with curried yogurt

I really hope at least one of these books helps even occasional plant-based cooking sound like a fun and delicious adventure! Don’t forget to check out our blogs on food sourcing and composting to check all the sustainability boxes for your next meal!

 

Sources:

Conzachi, K. (2021, March 16). Meatless Mondays: “Less Meat, Less Heat!” University of Colorado- Boulder. Retrieved July 12, 2022, from https://www.colorado.edu/ecenter

Eisen, M. B., & Brown, P. O. (2022). Rapid global phaseout of animal agriculture has the potential to stabilize greenhouse gas levels for 30 years and offset 68 percent of CO2 emissions this century. PLOS Climate. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pclm.0000010

Han, S. (2022, June 30). Cutting Back on Meat? What to Know About the Reducetarian Movement. Time. Retrieved July 12, 2022, from https://time.com/6192720/reducetarian-diet-benefits-challenges/

Meatless meals: The benefits of eating less meat. Mayo Clinic. (2022, August 20). Retrieved July 12, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/meatless-meals/art-20048193

Meatless Mondays. Zoo Atlanta. (n.d.). Retrieved July 12, 2022, from https://zooatlanta.org/conservation-action/meatless-mondays/

Torrella, K. (2022, February 1). This is how much meat and dairy hurt the climate. Vox. Retrieved July 12, 2022, from https://www.vox.com/future-perfect/22905381/meat-dairy-eggs-climate-change-emissions-rewilding

 

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