Monday, 11 May 2009

Rip and tear

I once knew someone who would buy cookbooks, but would tear out the non-vegetarian recipes. I would be horrified to learn that she had spent the full price on these cookbooks, only to 'rip and tear' out pages that contained meat dishes. I thought what a shame and what a waste.

I do own a number of vegan and vegetarian cookbooks, but also cookbooks by non vegetarian and non vegan chefs, but I have always been able to vegify or veganize those recipes I have wanted to cook. But there are some Michelin starred and not Michelin starred reputable chefs cookbooks that I have never purchased. However, I do think if some of these chefs were to come out with a book just showcasing some of the vegetarian and vegan dishes that they have served up at their establishments, then maybe I would consider purchasing them, and perhaps other vegetarians and vegans would too

This is one of the reasons why I applauded the likes of Madhur Jaffrey and Delia Smith for coming out with vegetarian collections of some of their recipes. I know that here in the UK, Delia Smith was accused by some vegetarians for jumping on the vegetarian bandwagon, but my attitude was if someone was genuinely trying to be inclusive of peoples dietary needs, then we should praise them for making the effort, rather than condemn them just because they may be seeing the vegetarian or vegan £££ signs. What I do dislike is when non-vegetarian cooks and chefs write vegetarian cookbooks and the recipes are vegetable accompaniments, side vegetables or sweets, puddings, desserts. This is not vegetarian food!

Some of you may have also noted the recent trend in the UK of vegetarian cookbooks being written by non-vegetarian chefs, such as Simon Rimmer, Matt Dobson and now Maria Elia with her book ‘The Modern Vegetarian’, but this is not a new phenomenon. One of the first and most respected chefs to note that vegetarians were treated with disdain at restaurants was Paul Gayler. He also noticed that vegetarians were often served substandard and uncreative dishes such as the lasagne, omelette or the ubiquitous mushroom risotto. He had made it his mission to create visual vegetarian delights to tempt everyone whether or not you were a vegetarian.

Paul Gayler has been an ambassador of vegetarian cuisine in upmarket restaurants for decades now and has showcased some excellent and innovative vegetarian dishes, that some of us can only dream of creating. His influence has encouraged other reputable restaurants to follow his example.

One of the points I am trying to make it that you do not have to be a committed vegan or vegetarian to create mouth watering and innovative vegetable based dishes. As long as you have a genuine understanding and appreciation of a vegan persons; or a vegetarian persons diet, vegetarian chef or not, why not share those culinary creations with others to Enjoy! I think it is better than the madness of 'ripping and tearing' out recipes you do not like. What do you think?


  1. I completely agree, Mangocheeks, and the thought of any book being ripped up makes me shudder. I'm not a veggie, but most of my diet is vegetarian because that's the way I like it. I've got a large collection of veggie cookbooks and have been slavering over Maria Ella's book. It would be a great world if meat wasn't considered an essential part of a meal.

  2. I have a large collection of veggie and non-veggie cookbooks because sometimes I'll find a fabulous recipe in a "regular" cookbook. I pretty much just love reading all cookbooks in general! I haven't heard of some of the chefs you mentioned as they are perhaps less well-known in the US, but I will look them up now!

    Great post!

  3. fran39
    Thank you! there is someone who agrees with me.

    I have not purchased Maria Ella's book yet. I thumbed through it over the weekend in a bookshop and have decided it is the next one on my shopping list.

    Your just like me, I will buy a cook book if it has a recipe that tempts me.

    You are an advanced vegetarian cook, so I would not recommend Simon Rimmer or Matt Dobsons cookbooks, as I think they are mainly written for New Veggies or people who occasionally cook for vegetarians. For established vegetarians I would highly recommend Nadine Abenur, Paul Gayler and Denis Cotter cookbooks.

  4. I will look into those three. Amazon usually has used versions of most cookbooks. I am also a huge fan of Nigella and of Jamie Oliver.

  5. I have most of Nigella and Jamie Olivers books on my shelves. I know many people here in th UK have 'fallen out of love' with both of them for a number of reasons, but I do think both had inspired and reinvigorated peoples desire to rediscover the joys of cooking, and how straightforward many of these recipes were to recreate at home. Their approach was 'if I can cook this at home, so can you'. For this I applaud them.

    Amazon is a great source, these days that is where I tend to get most of my books.


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