Thursday, 26 June 2014

Book Review: Martha Stewart’s MEATLESS

This week I did buy MEATLESS, a vegetarian cooking book “from the kitchens of Martha Steward Living” published last year.

“Meatless” is written for vegetarians, flexitarians, and meat eaters (grrrr!) who are interested in vegetarian food, so why should I, a hard core vegan with a stack of Vegan Cooking Books, buy this book? Well, because it is just an awesome book with very creative recipes.

Take the Pesto recipes. Besides a classic recipe for Pesto, it gives other creative pesto recipes, like a Spinach Basil Pesto and my favorite, a Smoky Bell Pepper Pesto, and explains that you can make pesto with basically any nuts and any green vegetable. Be a real home cook and experiment yourself is the message.
In the Herwin’s Vegan Café we have done just that; experiment with ingredients and flavors. E.g. since pine nuts are rather expensive here in Thailand, we used cashew nuts for our pesto sauce.

The recipes in this book range from soups, one recipes I definitely have to try is the Gazpacho, to pizzas like the Butternut Squash With Hazelnut Dough. Hazelnut dough?? Wowy, that sounds creative and inspiring, me like!

Many recipes are vegan, other recipes are with eggs or cheese, any vegan home cook who can spell t-o-f-u should have no difficulty in veganizing these recipes though.

This recipe book is especially written for ordinary non vegetarian people, people who are familiar with Martha Steward and her shows and magazines, people who follow “Meatless Monday”, people who are newcomers to vegetarian food. 

This vegetarian book is just great for them, it offers great professional recipes, many of them vegan.
This recipe book is pretty vegan friendly. E.g. ordinary people worry about proteins in veg foods. Page 11 (“Protein Powerhouse”) shows a list of 20 vegetarian ingredients and their proteins per serving. It is not until nr 11 on this list that we encounter an animal ingredient; milk. On nr 13 the next animal ingredient is egg. Eggs, by many non vegetarians thought to be a protein powerhouse, is just above one serving of wheat bread! 

The myth of eggs and milk as protein powerhouse is completely and ruthlessly destroyed by this listing, good job, Martha & Co!
Also the myth that only animal ingredients can contain complete proteins made up of the nine essential amino acids is shown to be incorrect. Besides quinoa and buckwheat, soy products contain complete proteins.

I just loved to read the foreword by Martha Steward. She openly tells what made her reduce eating meat. On a personal level she was influenced by her then 12 year old daughter at the time, who guessed right at what was served for dinner (her pet lamb!) and instantly decided to go vegetarian.

She also was influenced by Safran Foer’s “Eating Animals”, a great and powerful book in which the author goes on a personal journey to find out about the animals that he/we eat. It brings him to slaughterhouses where he learns that thousands and thousands of cows are actually slaughtered and skinned and cut in pieces while still being fully alive, to poultry farms in the middle of the night with an animal rights activist, to small scale animal farms run by well meaning idealistic people.

Back to “Meatless”.
Great and inspiring recipe book for both non vegetarians as well as vegans. Well written, great flavors and combinations, creative. This recipe book is especially a great gift to give to non vegetarian people who might be interested in incorporating vegan foods into their daily menu but who find “vegan” too threatening. Although it is a “vegetarian” recipe book, it is not overtly lacto ovo vegetarian, and very very vegan friendly, as mentioned before, explaining about proteins it favors plant based proteins and not dairy and egg proteins. Also the reasons for going veg, health, destruction of the rainforest, animal welfare concerns, etc, are mentioned.

Martha did a great job. Had she be a “vegan” and written a “vegan recipe book”, my guess is that little of her “base”, her fans, readers and viewers, had been influenced. Now that she is not even a vegetarian, she occasionally eats meat and fish, she and vegetarianism are so much more accessible for her fans and the people that follow her. Martha, a 99% vegetarian, writing a “vegetarian recipe book”, no doubt has a great influence on many ordinary people who would otherwise not been influenced but scared away by any hard core message.
And remember, don't buy Amazon but buy or order at, and so support, your local bookshop.

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