I have been working towards becoming a full-fledged vegetarian for a while now, but I would say the best way to describe my diet is that of a flexitarian – mostly vegetarian with some inclusion of meat.
When I am at home, I do not like preparing meat, and over the past few years I have experimented a lot with vegetarian cooking.
Before I moved to rural Georgia, I lived in South Florida. Whole food, plant-based, healthy diets are built into the culture down there. It is not difficult to find a healthy meal out, whether you want fine dining or something quick.
Before work, I would usually stop at a build-your-own salad bar, or grab an acai bowl. For date night, we would go to a farm-to-table restaurant where my favorite dish was a fresh, crisp cucumber tartare.
Even though I am less than sixty miles from Atlanta, out here we primarily only have fast food. Any non-chain restaurants are either burgers or Mexican food, which is great, don’t get me wrong, but my desire for crisp, refreshing food is never satisfied.
Being away from the convenience of healthy and fast options has forced me to focus on becoming a home vegetarian cook. I started reading veg and plant-based cooking blogs, and then once I found food bloggers whose dishes matched my tastes, budget, and were easy to prepare, I began buying cookbooks.
You would think in modern times that cookbooks would be obsolete, but no, no, no. I love cookbooks. Sometimes food blogs, through no fault of their own, overwhelm me. I don’t know what I am in the mood for, what I should search for, or how to build my grocery list. But flipping through the paper pages and looking at the large gorgeous images gives me clarity.
Below, in no particular order, are five of my favorite vegetarian or plant-based cookbooks.
Please note: This blog post contains affiliate links which means I may make a small commission if you click on the link and make a purchase. These are all cookbooks I have in my own collection and have cooked multiple dishes from.
The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook
By Ann Crile Esselstyn and Jane Esselstyn
Why I Love It
This is one of the first truly plant-based cookbooks I ever purchased. I bought one copy for my dad after he had some heart problems, and a copy for myself in case the issues were hereditary. I figured if he was going to start a heart-healthy diet in his sixties, I should start one in my (then) twenties.
I won’t make any claims as to if this can prevent and/or reverse heart disease (always talk to your doctor or nutritionist about the best diet for you,) but this cookbook does have some tasty recipes.
The recipes are no joke though. No fish. No dairy. No oil. Avoid salt. Avoid sugar.
Taking away all of these options may seem like it will limit your potential menus, but I think it just adds a new layer of culinary creativity that I had never experimented with before.
This book introduced me to nutritional yeast, a flaky, yellow powdery yeast that is a popular vegan substitute for cheese flavors. It made me really question whether or not I should add cheese to something.
The recipes in The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook are easy to make and most importantly do not call for ingredients that are difficult to find in your average grocery store.
I think this cookbook has the potential to appeal to anyone looking to eat healthier and cut out meat, no matter your culinary skill level.
One recipe from this book has become a staple in our home-cooking repertoire: the hot (sweet) potato.
Just bake some sweet potatoes and top them with black beans, mango, red bell pepper, cilantro, green onions, and a squeeze of lime. I promise you, it is ah.mazing. Details only available in the cookbook.
Buy The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook on Amazon
Love Real Food
By Kathryne Taylor
Why I Love It
Cookie and Kate is one of my favorite vegetarian blogs out there. Kate’s recipes are healthy, delicious, and simple, and her blog is clean and well-organized. Also, how can you not love her sous chef, Cookie the dog.
Cookie and Kate is a blog I truly trust, so when her cookbook came out I knew I had to have it.
It is full of gorgeous photographs of each recipe, and all of the recipes are clear and easy to follow.
I have yet to be disappointed by any of the recipes I have made from either her cookbook or her blog.
- Better Broccoli Casserole Recipe (This has become a weeknight staple in my house.)
- Healthy Honey Mustard Dressing (I could put this on anything.)
Buy Love Real Food on Amazon
Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking
By Dana Shultz
Why I Love It
The whole premise of both the Minimalist Baker’s vegetarian blog and Everyday Cooking cookbook is that every recipe can either be made in a single bowl, in thirty minutes or less, or the recipe has ten ingredients or less.
As someone who works full time and has a lot of side hustles, I knew this was a book I had to check out. Not to mention, I am a slow cook. So slow. Any way I can speed up my slow prep skills, I am all about it.
This cookbook also features excellent photography and creative dishes from the husband and wife duo.
- Masala Chickpea Curry (See a similar recipe from their blog, Easy Chana Masala.)
- Cashew Soba Noodle Salad (Cookbook Only)
- Thai Baked Sweet Potatoes (I love sweet potatoes. Cookbook Only)
Buy Minimalist Baker’s Everyday Cooking on Amazon
Vegan Richa’s Everyday Kitchen
By Richa Hingle
Why I Love It
I find myself drawn to Indian food. When I discovered Vegan Richa, I knew I would be buying everything she was selling.
Her vegan dishes in Everyday Kitchen are innovative and full of flavor. They might take a little more time for a slow chef like myself, but they are always worth the effort.
Since Vegan Richa is, well, vegan, this book is good for people with dietary restrictions, such as lactose intolerance, to learn techniques to make dishes that meet their diets without forsaking flavor.
The recipes in this book are varied, from Asian- and Indian-inspired dishes, to margherita pizza to her chocolate peanut butter ganache cake. If you love dishes with depth, this is the cookbook for you.
Buy Vegan Richa’s Everyday Kitchen on Amazon
Love and Lemons Everyday
By Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews
Why I Love It
Love & Lemons Everyday is my most recent vegetarian cookbook acquisition. And I am so happy with it. So much so, that even though it arrived damaged from Amazon, I didn’t want to part with it to have to wait for another copy. (Their blog is great, too.)
My favorite part of this cookbook is what I call the little “cheat sheets” that give you simple, quick tips and recipes that you can truly make on an average real-life day.
Some of my favorite “cheat sheets” include six ways to scramble eggs, how to make oat flour, how to freeze herbs, roasting vegetable times from A to Z, and a giant grid of five-to-seven-ingredient homemade dressings.
This cookbook is easily accessible for people with no cooking experience. It will even give you tips on how to boil an egg or how to make vegetable stock.
A lot of cookbooks skip over the basics, and this one doesn’t. I love them for that.
- Lemon Risotto with Trumpet Mushroom “Scallops” (Cookbook Only)
- Kale and Sweet Potato Lasagna Roll-Ups (Cookbook Only)
Buy Love & Lemons Everyday on Amazon
What is Your Favorite Vegetarian or Plant-Based Cookbook?
All of these blogs and cookbooks opened my eyes to what vegetarian eating is. I used to think being a vegetarian would be all steamed veggies and tofu. I am so happy to report I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I am always on the lookout for my next favorite cookbook. Have you tried any of these cookbooks? What are some of your favorite vegetarian or plant-based cookbooks or blogs? Let me know in the comments!