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Book Reviews

We review the 10th Anniversary Edition of Vegan with a Vengeance

Book Review:
Vegan with a Vengeance: 10 Years of Vegan Domination

by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
review by Marla Rose

On the heels of the free-spirited cable access show that created a firestorm of interest in animal-free cuisine in the days before social media, Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero ushered in a whole new enthusiasm for vegan living with their pioneering cookbook, Vegan with a Vengeance. Written with verve, spirit and an unpretentious attitude informed by their shared punk ethic, Vegan with a Vengeance showed home cooks from around the world how they could stage delicious DIY vegan productions from their very own kitchens with a minimum of specialty products or expensive kitchen tools. With recipes reflecting the authors’ NYC background, which found inspiration in cuisines from around the globe alongside a good amount of rib-sticking comfort food, Vegan with a Vengeance offered a distinct break from the sprouts-and-good-intentions hippie cookbooks of a previous era as well as the trend toward vegan recipes that went on for pages with rare, costly ingredients galore: this was a middle path and a new sensibility. It didn’t hurt, either, that the recipes were damn good.

Fast forward ten years and we have a vibrant, expanding vegan culture, a heightened awareness about the cruelties of animal agribusiness, increased access to meatless options at the grocery store and, now, a revised edition of the cookbook that launched a million perfectly char-marked tofu slabs: Vegan with a Vengeance, 10th Anniversary Edition: Over 150 Delicious, Cheap, Animal-Free Recipes That Rock. This time as a solo effort, Isa Moskowitz returns after having written many popular cookbooks and opened a restaurant and this experience has helped to smooth over some of the rough edges of her maiden effort. This means better instructions and even more streamlined ingredients, but it retains the same assertively uncomplicated, DIY spirit, just one that’s little older, wiser and mature. Maybe now Isa is more like your cool aunt who shares her favorite ‘80s music with you than your unfathomably sophisticated big sister who ignores you at the show. No matter, Vegan with a Vengeance is back with a vengeance and it has gotten better with age.

At 275 pages, Vegan with a Vengeance is a generous volume but not of coffee table bulk, a soft-covered, user-friendly cookbook with abundant – and sumptuous – food photography throughout, shot by the author herself. With vivid descriptions, frequent appearances with Fizzle, Isa’s beloved kitty, who offers tips and suggestions, and helpful sections on everything from how to replace eggs to how to stock a vegan pantry, Vegan with a Vengeance does everything her first edition did with more recipes, a simplified approach, and, as always, an emphasis on great flavor and variety. Additionally, the recipes reflect Isa’s evolving tastes and most have moved away from using items like vegan butter and toward less processed fats like coconut oil. Even if you have the first edition – and especially if yours is as stain-splattered and weathered as mine – you will want this revised version. I was not able to tell how many new recipes are included in this edition but it is worth it just for the streamlining of the instructions and ingredients.

With recipes in nine chapters covering Brunch (like Pumpkin Waffles), Muffins and Scones (such as Mocha Chip Muffins), Soups (like Chipotle, Corn and Black Bean Stew), Little Foods, Finger Foods and Sammiches (for example, Spanakopita), Sides (like Brussels Sprout Fried Rice), Pizzas and Pastas (such as her BLT Mac & Cheeze), Entrees (like Mango-Ginger Tofu), Cookies and Bars (like Banana Split Pudding Brownies) and Desserts (Lemon Gem Cupcakes!), the only problem you’ll have is what to make first.

I highly recommend the new version of Vegan with a Vengeance. A labor of love that has been lovingly improved upon, you will not regret this purchase.

2013-2015, Vegan Street

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