By Marie Laforêt
Grub Street, £25
A fifth of 16- to 24-year-olds follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. That means if you’ve been happily ignoring the needs of vegans, there’s only a finite amount of time before that becomes a bad business decision.
Initiatives like Veganuary encourage consumers to go animal-free for a month, and there is a growing flexitarian movement for those who eat meat only occasionally. Enter Marie Laforêt – a French blogger – with her attempt at an exhaustive animal-free cookery book, Vegan Bible.
The opening section is a great demystifier. From explaining the environmental benefits of veganism to making clear the difference between abolitionism and anti-specism, Marie Laforêt is a thorough teacher. There’s also valuable advice on surprisingly non-vegan ingredients, and a (ironically) meaty section on nutritional tips.
The range of meal types is unsurprisingly biblical, but following the recipes to the letter is not advised – the portion sizes are too small and many lack a vegan’s favourite thing: vegetables. The dairy-free carbonara and sea-flavoured risotto were both brilliant in some ways, teaching how to use soy cream and kombu respectively. But the finished meals were… unfinished. The pasta dish was dramatically improved with a squeeze of lemon and a grating of courgette, for example.
The best section is on dairy-free cheese. The ‘parmesan’, for instance – made using cashews, sesame, nutritional yeast and salt – adds a richness to pasta dishes without really tasting of cheese at all, and brilliantly mimics the function of normal Parmesan in a dish.
Unfortunately, there are some proofing issues – a burrito requiring cashew cream didn’t direct me to the ‘Non-dairy creams’ section of the book for the recipe, leaving me trying to find the nonexistent item in a shop, and I was disappointed that Laforêt doesn’t use aquafaba (chickpea brine), which is a popular egg alternative. As such, this new release already feels a little dated, despite the basics being solid and insightful.
By Suzie McCracken
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