Summer in Maine goes well with books, and this season brings with it another large crop of vegetarian titles. The nine I review here (plus two more; see the sidebar) cover a lot of ground and come from big names, newcomers and authors in between.

The labels applied to these books appear to be in flux. Most use the words “vegan” or “vegetarian” in their titles. This is notable because of the comments made last fall by the Rodale editor responsible for the publication of smash cookbook hit “Thug Kitchen.” He told Publishers Weekly “labeling a recipe or cookbook as vegan can be intimidating to some.” The all-vegan “Thug Kitchen” doesn’t say so anywhere on its cover.

However, in a change from past seasons when many plant-based cookbooks labeled recipes by allergen-friendly status, few of these cookbooks indicate whether any recipes are free of gluten, soy or other frequently avoided ingredients. One book is gluten-free without mentioning it on the cover.

“Everyday Vegetarian: 365 Days of Healthy Seasonal Recipes”

By Jane Hughes



Recipes: Vegetarian, with vegan recipes noted

Photos: Full-color throughout

This beautiful, seasonally arranged book covers tremendous vegetarian territory, including twists on classic veg dishes (Leek Quiche; Tofu Mushroom Burgers; Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes) and recipes inspired by global cuisine (Onion and Potato Bhajis; Asian Omelet Parcels; Apple and Fig Mille-Feuille). Each seasonal section works its way from soups to sweets with little commentary in between. A sizable group of the 365 recipes are vegan and the author points out many more can be made so with common substitutions.

“The China Study Quick & Easy Cookbook: Cook Once, Eat All Week With Whole Food, Plant-Based Recipes”

By Del Sroufe



Recipes: Oil-free vegan

Photos: Full-color throughout

The third cookbook in “The China Study” series, this one shows how to “master taking one dish and using it in a variety of ways” to avoid “eating leftovers all the time.” It’s a skill chef Sroufe learned from his mother, and he includes three meal plans that show how to use a single recipe for multiple dishes. With an emphasis on quick cooking, the book includes many pasta and stir fry recipes. The sauces are also central to this book and are meant to be made on the weekend and used in multiple dishes, such as No-Queso Sauce that can make No-Queso Mac and Cheese, No-Queso Potato Bake and Barbacoa Mushroom Burritos.

“The Plant-Pure Nation Cookbook: The Official Companion to the Breakthrough Film”

By Kim Campbell



Recipes: Oil-free vegan

Photos: Full-color with most recipes

This book’s recipes offer home cooks the chance to prepare the dishes seen in the new film “Plant-Pure Nation,” which will screen in Portland at Nickelodeon Cinemas on Sept. 17 and 23. Campbell is the daughter-in-law of biochemist and nutrition researcher T. Colin Campbell, who wrote the introduction to the cookbook. She is married to Nelson Campbell, who narrates the film. Anecdotes and interviews from the film are sprinkled throughout the book. Recipes include Easy Black Bean Burger, Buffalo Tofu Hoagies, Fettuccine Alfredo with Roasted Vegetables, Sesame Noodle Lettuce Wraps and Creamy African Stew.

“The Almond Milk Cookbook: Over 100 Delicious Recipes”

By Alan Roettinger



Recipes: Vegan

Photos: Some black & white

Tracing the history of almond milk back to the Middle Ages in Europe, chef and blogger Roettinger briefly discusses the rise of nondairy milks and the “surge in popularity” of almond milk before singing the nutritional praises of almonds. Three foundation recipes start the book – Basic Almond Milk, Rich Almond Milk and Almond Cream. From there, these basics find their way into dishes as wide-ranging as Fig Smoothies with Mint, Ranch Dressing, Vegetable Pot Pies and Orecchiette with Basil Cream Sauce. A section called “Sweet Tooth Central” includes Caramel-Pecan Ice Cream and Triple Chocolate Muffins.

“The Raw Food Nutrition Handbook: An Essential Guide to Understanding Raw Food Diets”

By Karin Dina, with Rick Dina



Recipes: None

Photos: None

The nuts and seeds of raw eating are presented with plenty of charts and graphs in this reference book that mixes research with chiropractor Dina’s own clinical experience. All aspects of nutrition – from glycemic load and phytochemicals to protein and vitamins – are covered in detail. The book also offers sections on cooking’s effect on nutrients and how to eat enough raw food, since it tends to be less calorie-dense than cooked and processed food and animal products, so people on raw food diets need to eat larger quantities. A sample menu for four types of raw diets – from high-sweet fruit raw to 80-percent raw – is included.

“The Paleo Vegetarian Diet: A Guide for Weight Loss and Healthy Living”

By Dena Harris



Recipes: Vegetarian (minus one fish recipe)

Photos: None

The craze for paleo diets has been largely at odds with vegetarian eating since paleo diets typically mean, “No beans. No soy. No dairy. No rice. No quinoa,” as Harris writes. Geared to longterm vegetarians looking to lose weight, the book shows how to make a traditionally meat-heavy diet more plant-focused. The book explains why so many plant-based foods are off-limits to paleo eaters (because they contain phytic acid or gluten or both), and then recommends including some beans and butter on occasion. It includes 50 recipes, such as Stuffed Eggplant and Paleo Bread.

“The Uncomplicated Vegan: Simple Delicious Foods for an Effortless Vegan Life”

By Christopher S. Harris



Recipes: Vegan with gluten-free and nightshade-free noted

Photos: None

Self-published by South Paris resident and Ayurvedic counselor Harris, this book lacks frills but makes up for it in the pantry-stocking section and in the sheer number of recipes. The recipes reflect the breadth of vegan cooking, including cultured nut-based cheeses, plant-based seitan meats, raw lasagna and black bean brownies. In true Maine fashion, one section of the book is devoted to whoopie pies.

“Vegan Everyday: 500 Delicious Recipes”

By Douglas McNish



Recipes: Vegan and gluten-free

Photos: Two sections of full-color photos

The cover doesn’t say the recipes contained here are gluten-free, but all are. Chef McNish includes an extensive guide to stocking a vegan, gluten-free pantry, and then he dives into 500 recipes. The encyclopedic book covers every possible culinary situation, from making breakfasts and vegan staples to entertaining guests. Many of the recipes show a Mediterranean or Asian influence, such as Miso-Glazed Tofu with Crispy Sushi Cakes and Braised Bok Choy and Truffle-Flavored Fettuccini in Portobello Cream Sauce. A recipe for gluten-free pasta dough uses brown rice flour and ground flax seeds. Other bread recipes, such as Cheddar and Chive Biscuits, call for all-purpose gluten-free flour.

“Vegan with a Vengeance: Celebrating 10 Years of Vegan Domination with New Photos and even More Delicious, Cheap Recipes that Rock”

By Isa Chandra Moskowitz



Recipes: Vegan

Photos: Full-color throughout

Ten years ago, Moskowitz was the host of a local access cable show out of Brooklyn called “Post Punk Kitchen” when she released “Vegan with a Vengeance” and exploded onto the vegetarian cooking scene. She’s since followed up with eight other popular cookbooks, including “Isa Does It,” “Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World” and “Veganomicon.” This updated version of its namesake adds more than two dozen recipes, simplifies the original recipes, adds new photos and includes more tips from her cat Fizzle. Moskowitz also reveals why a lentil soup recipe in the original book adds the broth in two stages: “The truth is, I didn’t have a pot big enough and had to wait for some of the water to evaporate before adding the rest.” The updated recipe skips that step.

Avery Yale Kamila is a freelance food writer who lives in Portland. She can be contacted at:

Twitter: AveryYaleKamila

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