As more people expand their awareness and understanding of the challenges facing humanity on our planet today, we are seeing drastic shifts in thinking and lifestyle habits. More and more people are taking issues dealing with our health, the state and sustainability of the environment, as well as ethical and humane matters seriously. All of these challenges have a common root in animal farming, food production and consumption.
We know today without a shadow of a doubt that a whole foods, plant-based diet is the healthiest way to nourish a human body to maintain optimal health, heal any disease and prevent future ones. We know that animal agriculture, specifically large factory farming is one of the biggest contributing factors to environmental degradation and its reduction/elimination is part of the solution. We also know today that the human being does not need to consume animal products to thrive or to survive. And as more of us are awakening spiritually, expanding our consciousness and opening our hearts, we are no longer able to tolerate the inhumane animal practices, or the unnecessary slaughter of innocent beings simply for the sake of our taste buds.
For these main reasons we have seen a sharp and steady increase in the amount of people choosing to shift their food and personal choices to be in alignment with a vegan, vegetarian or plant-based way of life. How we transition will of course depend on many factors, like the state of our health or how comfortable we feel in the kitchen with food preparation. Either way it is good to know that today there are numerous resources to make sure that we make any kind of plant-based eating healthy, delicious and practical!
One such resource to help us take advantage of the wonderful world of vegan cooking and eating comes from author Dreena Burton who has put together her fourth vegan recipe book entitled, Let Them Eat Vegan!: 200 Deliciously Satisfying Plant-Powered Recipes for the Whole Family. It was my pleasure to learn about Dreena’s work and this recipe book, as well as try out some of the recipes for myself. In the following review I will share with you more specifically what you can expect from this book and how to make the most of what it offers, regardless where you are on your plant-based journey.
About the Author
Let Them Eat Vegan!: 200 Deliciously Satisfying Plant-Powered Recipes for the Whole Family is written by Dreena Burton. The book was newly released in the spring of 2012.
Dreena Burton is the author of bestselling vegan cookbooks and an at-home mom to three girls. She has been vegan since 1995, when little was known about eating and cooking vegan. Not long after graduating with her business degree and working in the marketing field, Dreena followed her true passion of writing recipes and cookbooks. Her previous vegan recipe books include:
- Eat, Drink & Be Vegan: Everyday Vegan Recipes Worth Celebrating
- Vive le Vegan!: Simple, Delectable Recipes for the Everyday Vegan Family
- The Everyday Vegan
The Everyday Vegan was her first project, following her father-in-law’s heart attack and helped her husband’s parents reverse heart disease through a low-fat plant-based diet. Vive le Vegan! was her second project after having her first child, which represented her journey as a mom, and includes more wholesome, easy recipes. Eat, Drink & Be Vegan, was her third project, which was a celebratory vegan cookbook.
For more information on Dreena and her work, please visit her site: PlantPoweredKitchen.com
Book Content & Format
Let Them Eat Vegan!: 200 Deliciously Satisfying Plant-Powered Recipes for the Whole Family is around 300 pages, contains an introduction, 11 chapters and several practical appendix reference pages. The content of this recipe book is as follows:
Introduction: Plant Power: Your Time Has Come
This section includes a beautiful introduction by Dreena that shares about her journey of eating and cooking vegan, and how this book differs from her other books. An explanation of how to use the recipe book for best results is included with lots of practical tips and advice that include what one may need as far as kitchen tools go, specific food ingredients and a short write-up about most of the ingredients called for in the recipes to get the most out of them.
Chapter 1: Breakfast Bites and Smoothies
This section includes over 20 breakfast or snack-like recipes such as muffins, pancackes, granola bars and smoothies.
Chapter 2: Salads That Make a Meal
This section includes 5 whole food, unique and satisfying salad recipes.
Chapter 3: Proud to Be Saucy and Dippy
This section includes over 30 different sauce, dressing, spread, dip and topping recipes.
Chapter 4: Vegan Soup for the Soul
This section includes 12 hearty soup and stew recipes.
Chapter 5: Side Stars
This section includes 12 unique and diverse sides to meals based on potatoes and vegetables.
Chapter 6: Your Main Squeeze: Casseroles, One-Pot Wonders, and Tarts
This section includes 20 different whole meal recipes based on different vegetables, beans, tempeh, tofu, grains and potatoes.
Chapter 7: When Burgers Get Better
This section includes over 10 different vegan burger and patty recipes.
Chapter 8: Good Pasta Belongs on a Plate—Not the Wall!
This section includes 10 different sauce and pesto recipes that can be used alongside some of the mentioned pasta dishes.
Chapter 9: C is for Cookie, That’s Good Enough For Me
This section includes almost 30 different cookie, square, bar and truffle recipes.
Chapter 10: Let Them Eat Cakes, Pies, and Puddings
This section includes almost 40 different cake, pie, torte, crust, frosting and pudding recipes.
Chapter 11: Dreena Dazs
This chapter includes 10 vegan ice cream recipes.
Practical resource materials at the back include:
- Powering the Vegan Family
- Plant-Powered Lunch Box
- Let Them Eat Greens!
- Guide to Cooking Grains
- Guide to Cooking Beans
- Conversion Chart
When it comes to recipe books, as one can imagine there are many perspectives from which to rate, judge or grade them. What one’s personal definition of health is, personal culinary skills are, or preferences for learning are just a few things to consider. So to make best use of my review, you need to know first where I am coming from. As my life and work reflect, optimal health is always one of my main criteria. Having been a vegan for almost 5 years, having a background in nutrition and love for optimally healthy meal preparation, I consider myself comfortably experienced when it comes to vegan eating. I prize whole, natural food that is homemade, advice that is practical and convenient, as well as an awareness of the bigger picture of things. While I love being creative in the kitchen and put together all of my own meals from whole, natural foods, I am not one actually to use or enjoy using any kind of cookbooks, as I prefer personal meal creativity in the moment of.
So taking into account the above, I was drawn to Dreena’s book for three main reasons. First, having looked at various recipe books in book stores over the years and finding most to be based on unhealthy ingredients, Dreena’s book claimed to provide not just plant food ingredients, but whole food ingredients at that. Second, I am always on the lookout for high quality resources to share with others. And third, I wanted to personally give the whole recipe book idea another try and expand my creativity in the kitchen with new food combinations.
Overall, I found the book to be a valuable resource to add to one’s kitchen, whether vegan or not. The recipes Dreena provides are definitely quite excellent in terms of the ingredients they use, focusing mainly on vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, fruits and herbs. A few processed food items are mentioned like bouillon cubes or non-dairy milks, but these tend to be minor inclusions. While she uses some sugars in her baked or dessert recipes, they include healthier sweetener options, and in smaller amounts. Finally, some recipes include a lot of ingredients and may seem intimidating at first, but can be quite straightforward once we envision the whole picture. Processed vegan foods are not included or promoted, rather the user is taught how to work with whole food options for everything they may need.
While I still greatly prefer putting together meals without any cookbooks, I enjoyed trying a few of the recipes so far from several of the sections, including the Apple Spice Hemp Pancakes, Moroccan Carrot Dip, Tofu in Olive, Grape and Herbed Marinade, and Dreena’s famous B-Raw-nies. And I look forward to trying many of the other recipes, specifically the numerous sauces and dips, which I always love adding to many meals. But there are also many recipes that I personally won’t be making use of like, the baked desserts, as I rely only on raw snacks and desserts, and tend to aim for more raw food options in general. However, this is where the book is versatile for many people’s different needs.
What also stood out for me about this book as a big plus was the extra written information that Dreena has included, aside from just recipes. From the introduction, to the opening content of each chapter, there are many valuable, smart and optimally healthy tidbits of information included. Her tone and way of writing is a pleasure to read, her advice shows experience, and her tips are very user-friendly bringing awareness to a wide variety of things to consider when it comes to meal preparation. She is also an excellent role model as a mom of 3 young girls who is a living example of how well a whole, natural food vegan diet can work for adults, children, babies and during pregnancy.
The only major downside of the book (if I can even call it that) is that it does not include many images of the recipes, which is always nice to have when it comes to recipe books. There is however a central section in the book which consists of a few, high quality images showing a select number of the recipes. So while I would have loved to see more recipe images in this book, I understand the publishing process enough to know that this can be a very costly and often not practical way to go for the author.
Overall, here are the general pros and cons of this book:
- recipes based on whole food ingredients
- nutrient dense meal ideas
- does not use any white flour, white sugar or other heavily processed ingredients
- includes some gluten free recipes
- includes some wheat free recipes
- includes some soy free recipes
- includes some raw recipes
- includes very practical tips with recipes
- includes lots of valuable information
- includes some photos of meals
- applicable and beneficial for families with kids
- includes lots of variety
- includes creative meal ideas
- includes lots of dessert options
- delicious recipes that are bound to satisfy most taste buds and health needs
- does not have photos/images for every recipe (just a select few)
- some ingredient lists are very long, or include an ingredient or two that may not be easy to find depending on where one lives
This is an excellent book for:
- the individual or family who is transitioning to a vegan diet
- the individual or family who is interested in eating more plant-based meals
- the individual or family who are experienced vegan or vegetarian eaters, but wish to expand their meal choices, or are interested in new recipes, or meal ideas
- the individual or family who is interested in learning how to make healthy snack and dessert choices that are not based on refined flours, sugars, fats or animal products
- anyone looking for high quality, whole food, plant-based recipes
In conclusion, I definitely recommend this book for anyone who is seeking such a resource to expand the health value and creativity of their meals. It includes a variety of all the recipes one would need to satisfy a variety of taste buds, ages and health needs through delicious, whole food meal options.
Let Them Eat Vegan is available in major bookstores and online stores in physical copy and Kindle copy. You can get more information on the book, read reviews or purchase your own copy from Amazon.com below: