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The 10 Best Vegan And Vegetarian Cookbooks That Inspire You to Go Meat-Free

Move over, meat, vegetables are here to dominate your kitchen and plates. As people become cognizant of the health benefits of following a plant-based diet and the environmental impacts of consuming meat, vegetarian and vegan dining has evolved from mocked hippie ideology to a trendy mainstream lifestyle. This trend combines the current wellness and health obsession with growing social consciousness and action against climate change.

Although vegan or vegetarian meals are available in world-renowned restaurants or local diners, nothing beats a hearty home-cooked meal. And cookbook authors who specialize in plant-based cooking are here to help. Many of the food industry’s top chefs, bloggers, restaurateurs, and writers are on a mission to show readers how versatile and crazy-good veggies truly in their crafted cookbooks.

Their works can teach you how to make everything from breakfast recipes and oh-so-yummy meatless grilling and barbecue to artsy salads and vegan-friendly Southern classics. Whether you’re a newbie to consuming a plant-based diet or a long-time vegetarian or vegan looking for mouthwatering recipes, we rounded up the best vegan and vegetarian cookbooks for you to include in your 2021 reading list.

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Plants-Only Kitchen by Gaz Oakley

Gaz Oakley's "Plants-Only Kitchen" is placed on a table beside a cooking pot.

As the Avant-Garde Vegan, Gaz Oakley is a superstar of the online vegan food world with over a million subscribers to his YouTube channel and more than 600,000 followers on Instagram. Famed for his inventive, flavor-packed vegan recipes and infectious passion for cooking, earlier this year Oakley released his third book, Plants-Only Kitchen, which features over 70 recipes that run the gamut from breakfast dishes and burgers to desserts and sides. For ease and convenience, recipes are marked to show which are a quick 15-minute weeknight meal, which recipes are high in protein, which can be prepped in advance, and so on, making this a great book to turn to to find a recipe for every occasion. 

How To Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman

"How To Cook Everything Vegetarian" by Mark Bittman is on a table beside a cooking pot.

Former New York Times food columnist Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything series are some of the most ubiquitous cookbooks around; chances are you or someone you know has an edition on their shelf at this very moment, right next to Joy of Cooking. In the early aughts, Bittman was one of the first (alongside legends like Isa Moskowitz and Terry Romero) to try and show the American public just how approachable, healthy, and delicious meatless cooking could be with How To Cook Everything Vegetarian; the book was a runaway success and celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2017. The updated version, which features everything from meat-free renditions of globetrotting classics like paella to creative salads and pasta for fast weeknight dinners, also has tons of new info and charts, as well as a beverage section for teas and smoothies. 

Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero

"Veganomicon" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero sits on a table beside a cooking pot.

Heralded as the ultimate guide to veganism, Veganomicon is a veritable bible that any vegan or vegetarian would be remiss not to have on their shelf. Written by two of the most acclaimed vegan cookbook writers of our time — restaurateur, chef, and Post Punk Kitchen creator Isa Moskowitz and bestselling cookbook writer Terry Romero — it was first published in 2007 as part of the first wave of plants-only cookbooks aimed at the general public. Now a staple of the genre, the new 10th-anniversary edition features over 250 lip-smacking vegan recipes, as well as low-fat, gluten-free, and soy-free options and plenty of gorgeous photos to inspire and delight. The book also outlines cooking and prep techniques, so if you’re a beginner, Moskowitz and Romero are there to guide you, with a healthy dose of their sassy, smart wit added for good measure. 

Vegetables Unleashed by José Andrés

"Vegetables Unleashed" by José Andrés is beside a cooking pot on a table.

Chef José Andrés is known for many things: His innovative small-plates presentation, his many restaurants around the States, and, perhaps most notably, his charity work with World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit that provides healthy meals to survivors in the wake of a natural disaster. But in addition to feeding the world, Andrés’ boundless energy and enthusiasm is also dedicated to a different quest: Getting people to be as in love with vegetables as he is, which is the core goal of Vegetables Unleashed. This passionate cookbook, written with food writer Matt Goulding, shakes up old ideas about vegetables and veggie-only recipes to show the true breadth of vegetarian cooking, as Andrés shows readers how to create dishes from around the world using only vegetables, as well as getting creative with tried-and-true staples like lentil stew. If you have ever thought that vegetarian dining was boring or staid, this book will prove you wrong. 

Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed by Bryant Terry

Bryant Terry's "Afro-Vegan" is placed on a table beside a cooking pot.

Transforming the diverse, vibrant dishes and cuisines of the African diaspora into vegan and vegetarian-friendly meals, chef and activist Bryant Terry’s beloved 2014 cookbook takes readers and eaters on a journey of culinary and historic discovery. A pioneer of the food justice movement, which states that everyone has the right to healthy, high-quality meals, Terry educates his readers on the versatility and power of plant-based cooking, showing how traditional recipes can evolve and change while still remaining true to their heritage and culture. In between over a hundred delicious African, Caribbean, and Southern recipes like a Brazilian cashew-coconut soup that uses southern ingredients, you’ll also find thoughtful musings on the nature of food and community, as well as book and music recommendations. 

Read More: Must-Read Cookbooks by Black Chefs

On Vegetables: Modern Recipes For The Home By Jeremy Fox

Jeremy Fox's "On Vegetables" is on a table beside a cooking pot.

If you’re the kind of cook who loves elegant, restaurant-style plating and trendy preparation techniques, this elevated vegetarian cookbook from Michelin-starred chef Jeremy Fox and restaurateur Noah Galuten will be right up your alley. The stylish tome is a reverential treatise on vegetables as seen and handled through a chef’s expert eyes and hands, with the authors explaining how to bring out and best express the many flavors, textures, and smells of vegetables through 160 innovative recipes, like a carta da musica flatbread topped with truffled pecorino and decorative leaves. 

La Vida Verde: Plant-Based Mexican Cooking with Authentic Flavor By Jocelyn Ramirez

La Vida Verde cookbook on table next to dutch oven.

Who says Latin food can’t be vegan-friendly? Certainly not Jocelyn Ramirez, author of La Vida Verde: Plant-Based Mexican Cooking with Authentic Flavor. She is also owner of a catering company making plant-based cuisine accessible throughout Los Angeles. Authentic Mexican food is hard to recreate, especially when it comes to meaty tacos but this cookbook will guide you through the world of plant-based tacos. These meat substitutions manage to capture the rich, spicy, and savory deliciousness of authentic Mexican and Latin American cooking. It features 60 recipes with healthier versions of Tacos de Yaca Carnitas (Jackfruit Carnitas Tacos), Sopa de Tortilla con Crema (Tortilla Soup with Cream), and Mole Verde con Champiñones (Mushrooms in Green Mole).

Viva Vegan by Terry Hope Romero

Viva Vegan

Terry Hope Romero is one of the co-authors of the bestselling Veganomicon and other vegan and vegetarian cookbooks. It’s a well-known fact that many Latin American countries love their meat, from roasted pork and goat in Mexico to the steaks and asados of Argentina, but in her first solo cookbook, Romero transforms over 200 classic Latin American recipes, like tamales, empanadas, stews, and churros, into vegan-friendly alternatives without sacrificing flavor or texture. Romero’s passion and love for her heritage and the culinary traditions of this multicultural part of the world shine through in every recipe, and she also brings her own delightful twist to some recipes, like breakfast crepes with un-dulce de leche and sweet plantains.

Sweet Potato Soul by Jenné Claiborne

Jenné Claiborne's "Sweet Potato Soul" lies next to a cooking pot on a table.

Fried chicken. Gumbo. Hot biscuits with butter. Southern food is the epitome of comfort, but sadly, most of it is not vegan-friendly. So if you’re a Southern-food lover looking to go vegan, chef and blogger Jenné Claiborne is your guiding star. Her cookbook features 100 recipes for vegan-friendly Southern classics, like Cauliflower Fried Chicken and Jalapeño Hush Puppies, as well as her own inventive takes on staples like collard greens. And, of course, there are plenty of sweet potato recipes to go around, like Sweet Potato Cinnamon Rolls and Sweet Potato-Tahini Cookies. Having grown up in Atlanta, Claiborne also shares the history behind many beloved Southern dishes and ingredients, bringing context and insight into these iconic regional foods.

Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables by Joshua McFadden with Martha Holmberg

The book titled "Six Seasons: A New Way With Vegetables" is beside a cooking pot on a table.

When you get in the habit of purchasing your produce from a supermarket instead of a local farmer’s market or CSA, you tend to forget about the seasonality of vegetables. Supermarket chains import veggies from all over the world regardless of whether they’re in season in your area, but learning to cook with the seasons is one of the best parts of embracing a plant-based diet. It’s healthier for you and for the planet, and you develop a deeper connection to nature, as chef Josh McFadden discovered. His and food writer Martha Holmberg’s James Beard award-winning cookbook is an ode to seasonality, full of wisdom and practical advice on the benefits of growing and eating with the seasons, shared over the course of 225 recipes. Equal parts cookbook and meditative text on living in tune with nature, Six Seasons is one of the most transformative, thought-provoking vegetarian cookbooks out there.

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