'Bible of vegan cooking' gets a makeover

Two editions of the "bible of vegan cooking," Robin Robertson's Vegan Planet: 2003 edition (left) and new revised edition.

True story: As soon as Robin Robertson's Vegan Planet crossed my desk in its new, revised edition from Harvard Commons Press, I knew I had to post about it with one of those "old vs. new" shots of the two books, given that my original copy from 10 years ago would clearly make the point of how much its been used in my household. After my late shift, I arrived home with the new volume to find the sauce-spotted old one sitting open on the kitchen counter, having just been used again that night by the rest of my family.

And it was in two parts - although a solidly bound paperback, its frequent use in the midst of food preparation has wreaked havoc, over the years, on the individual pages. I reassembled it, but you can still get the idea from the photo - this is a go-to resource that has been gone to time and again.

Robertson is a VegNews columnist and the author of countless other vegan cookbooks. But this one is special, and I'm not the only one who thinks so. As Kathy Freston says in the blurb on the front, it's "no wonder so many people call Vegan Planet the bible of vegan cookbooks."

That's certainly been true for us. Dishes that we talk about generically as though they dropped into our kitchen from the sky - Three-Bean Dal, Seitan Reubens, Tamale Pie, Asian Noodle Salad with Spicy Peanut Sauce (which we refer to more expeditiously as "the Asian Noodle stuff"), and many more - all originally came from our 2003 edition of Vegan Planet. The book is comprehensive and exhaustive, while also being fun and creative, the perfect all-around collection of recipes for vegans or would-be vegans mastering plant-based cooking.

This new revised, updated edition has a slightly different look, eschewing the "zany" font used throughout the original, which in 2003 was, I figure, a reassurance that vegan eating could be fun and creative. Now that hundreds of new vegan chefs have followed Robertson's lead and established that fact, the new version has a little more elegant, straightforward presentation.

Of course the content is what counts, and this revision adds 50 "fantastically flavorful new recipes" including master recipes for "ingredients such as vegan sausage and vegan cheese sauces [plus mayonnaise and sour cream], making it possible for cooks to avoid processed foods." In terms of in-recipe revisions, I notice plentiful applications of sriracha and a de-emphasis on added oils. There are also expanded explainers on modern-day hot topics such as grains, "super greens" (yes, the revision has a kale chips recipe) and hidden animal ingredients.

As always, Robertson's creativity and global outlook shine through, delivering easy, tasty meals inspired by local traditions worldwide and making vegan cooking and eating so attractive, so accessible, as to move humanity ever closer to the goal encapsulated in the book's title.