Thursday, February 4, 2010

Vegan Nutrition for Orthodox Christians: Pith

"Pith"? I don't know. I'm out of one-word titles to use.

Yet "Pith" is somehow appropriate, because here is the meat and potatoes of those insufferably long days without meat (but not potatoes): cookbooks and other resources. I mean, I can say what to eat and how to make it, but the thought of a meal of steamed veggies, unseasoned beans, and a slice of bread fill even pro-vegetarian me with dread. So now that you know how to get protein and cook beans, here's what to use to make it slightly tasty.

Two staples in your fasting cookbook collection ought to be the Veganomicon and Laurel's Kitchen. The Veganomicon is generally not recommended by Level 5 vegans for beginners, but if you're desperate for something tasty then this is your book. Laurel's Kitchen is not vegan exclusively, but it is vegetarian and has vegan recipes. It's also got a nice, pithy (ha!) section on nutrition. I covered the absolute basics, but if you want more than that then this is a good book to have. In fact, it's highly possible that it has more than you could possibly even want to know--it's a big section.

Other gems include the annoyingly hard to find Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian. Also not fully vegan (though perfectly admirable), it's got lovely authentic recipes ... "authentic" meaning "hard." Still sometimes authentic means more simple than some idiotic, American, fusion version, so for that reason I recommend it. The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen is great because it contains zero meat substitutes. I have a particular disdain for junk made from tofu that's supposed to pass for chicken or beef or something decidedly more tasty than seasoned 'fu, so this one has a special place in my heart and has for years. Also from the same author are the Italian Vegan Kitchen and the Tropical Vegan Kitchen (which covers any tropical area). I might also recommend the Great Salsa Book--the bean salsas would be fine as main courses, and the other salsa are always handy for those days when you open up a can of refried beans (lard-free, of course) and a bag of tortilla chips for dinner. Yum.

If you're feeling exceptionally evil, the authors of the Veganomicon also wrote Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. It's just pretty to look at--can you imagine making cupcakes from it?!

For those too lazy or utterly broke to buy books, the library is an unlikely source of vegetarian cookbooks. I've filched recipes from library books many a time. Also, try the Vegetarian Resource Group recipes. Most interesting are the Egyptian recipes, which come from a Coptic Orthodox family. There are other places, but I know this website best (it existed--gasp!--10 years ago when I became vegetarian the first time).

Oh dear--I need to go bemoan how old I am now. Sunday's Meatfare, and Lent's fast approaching. Prepare yourself.

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