There was a time when a list like this would have been impossible, because there weren’t enough vegan or vegetarian cookbooks to choose from. Now entire bookstore shelves and even rows are devoted to the genre. If you’re still wondering what to get the animal lover in your life or just interested in integrating a more plant-based way of eating into your routine, here are twenty good places to start. Some of them aren’t purely vegan, but have great vegan recipes in them or provide options that make it easy to veganize.
Eat Like You Give a Damn: Recipes for the New Ethical Vegan by Michelle Schwegmann & Josh Hooten
New! From the founders of Herbivore Clothing we get realistic recipes and meal ideas from people who walk the walk. Each recipe comes with a detailed nutritional run-down and the photos alone are swoon-worthy.
Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero
All of the books in Moskowitz-Romero empire are gorgeous and worthy of being on this list, but it’s the Veganomicon I return to again and again (oh how I love those little Chickpea Fritters!) and it’s the vegan cookbook I see most often in the kitchens of many omnivorous friends, so there’s something special there.
Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World: 75 Dairy-Free Recipes for Cupcakes that Rule by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero
The cupcake trend may be dead, but that doesn’t mean you don’t still need one once in awhile. Make your own Mexican Hot Chocolate, Pistachio Rosewater or Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting cupcakes any time you want with the help of this fun cookbook. Vegan baking is a science, and Moskowitz and Romero are genius Professors of Pastries.
Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life by Brendan Brazier
The Ironman triathlete behind the VEGA brand brings us part self-help/informative, part layman’s guide to a nutritionally-dense plant-based diet. Aimed at athletes or anyone focused on getting the most energy and vitality from real food, the simplicity of the few-ingredient recipes here is refreshing in a heavily processed and genetically modified world.
Cook Food by Lisa Jervis
More a vegan-friendly manifesto with some affordable and accessible recipes, this offering from the founder of Bitch Magazine is a good place to start for anyone completely clueless about how to eat in a healthy way. It guides one through buying staples and eating for sustainability and the “What You Need in Your Pantry, Refrigerator and Spice Rack” section alone makes it a perfect gift for anyone just getting started on this whole home cooking thing.
The Vegan Slow Cooker by Kathy Hester
Just received this as a gift myself—already tried: Smoky Mac and Cheese, Thai Coconut Pumpkin Soup, Mojito Pinto Beans, Scrumptious Strawberry Cornbread, and Asian Greens (which I burned, but that’s my fault for leaving it on high for 10 hours and not noticing the ‘cook on low for 6-8’ note. Whoopsie!) Perfect for the busy person who can’t spend hours creating new concoctions… a crockpot and this cookbook could change your life!
How It All Vegan by Tanya Barnard & Sarah Kramer
Back in 1999, when we still said “animal-free” and well before “plant-based” was introduced, this cool little book launched a whole genre of hip, vegan cookbooks; now it’s an oldie but a goldie. The go-to recipes for quickie meals are well-thought-out and perfect for beginning vegans, period.
Raw & Simple by Judita Wignall
If you’ve been wondering about the whole raw thing but feel overwhelmed by the ideas of dehydrating mushrooms or never cooking again, this book is a good place to start. The author rejects the all-or-nothing attitude found in a lot of other books and breaks it down into bite-sized ways for you to work healthy, delicious whole foods into your diet.
By Any Greens Necessary by Tracey McQuirter
You’ve got to love the title, and while the subtitle makes this book specifically tailored as A Revolutionary Guide for Black Women Who Want to Eat Great, Get Healthy, Lose Weight, and Look Phat, the ideas and recipes can be enjoyed by anyone who loves good food, especially anyone who wants to transition from being an omnivore to vegan but might not have the social or community guidance for doing so. McQuirter’s is a loving, delicious approach.
The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Lidden
Cooking for an army of vegans? Based on the popular Oh She Glows blog, this one’s full of crowd-pleasing goodness. Especially great for cooking big batches of comfort food for potlucks and family gatherings.