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The Accidental Vegan Paperback – March 1, 2009
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"Eat low on the food chain in high style with this eclectic collection of simply sophisticated recipes from Devra Gartenstein. Please your palate and spare the planet in one fell swoop--or one swell soup!"
—Kerry Trueman, cofounder of Eating Liberally
“Just as you don’t have to be Italian to love pasta, you don’t need to be vegan to enjoy these recipes.”
—Taste for Life
About the Author
DEVRA GARTENSTEIN owns and runs the Patty Pan Grill, a vegetarian-vegan restaurant and take-out counter in Seattle, Washington. She is also a farmers' market vendor who can be found at local markets almost every day during the summer. Visit www.quirkygourmet.com
THE AUTHOR SCOOP
If you had to boil the message of The Accidental Vegan down to one sentence, what would it be?
You don't have to be a vegetarian to eat vegetarian food, just like you don't have to be Thai to eat Thai food, and you don't have to be Mexican to eat Mexican food.
When did you know you were a writer?
When I was in third grade one of my teachers said, "You should never start a sentence with "and," unless you're a writer." And right then and there, I decided that's what I wanted to be.
What's the farthest you've ever traveled?
I once traveled to a small town in Poland thinking it was the birthplace of my great grandfather, but when I got home and double checked, it turned out I'd gone to the wrong town.
Any memorable kitchen disasters?
I once spilled half a bucket of tahini. That's twenty pounds of tahini. There's no good way to clean up twenty pounds of tahini.
What book do you re-read every few years?
I re-read Isak Dinesen's Babette's Feast, and then I watch the movie again, because it's every bit as good as the original story.
What are you working on now?
I'm working on a book called Honest Food: A History of Eating Well. It's an account of the relationship between humans and food, from Paleolithic times until the present day.
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
The recipes span across ethnic cuisines, with plenty of Indian, Afghani, Asian, Italian, and Mexican style dishes. There are appetizers, sides, main dishes, salads, soups, sauces, an entire chapter on seitan, and a very short dessert section. The dessert section is the only section that is pretty sparse. There is a recipe for Baklava and for some rice puddings (which were VERY delicious!).
The author does use honey in some of her recipes, which I found surprising. However, if it is a concern for you (as it is for me), I think it easily substituted.
The recipes are usually quite simple. The directions are simple (in one or two cases, a step was left out). Most recipes don't use huge long lists of ingredients, but many recipes do incorporate plenty of vegetables, which I think is a plus. It is obvious the author wants you, the reader, to incorporate your own style into these dishes. Most of the ingredients are readily available, although some recipes require more exotic or ethnic ingredients, but nothing you can't find at an Asian or Indian market or at your local health food store or co-op. Ms. Gartenstein lets you know, within the recipe, where to find ingredients that may be unfamiliar.
There are some very outstanding dishes in this cookbook. My favorites are the Hot and Sour Soup (the stuff in the restaurant can't compare!!), Pasta with Olives and Artichokes (I could eat this every day!), and Stuffed Shells. The Date and Almond Rice Pudding was heavenly (one of the ingredients is Rose Water).
I think The Accidental Vegan will remain one of my all time favorites in a collection of over 60 vegan cookbooks. I highly recommend it!
It is not perfect, though. Other reviewers here have noticed the same problems I did, but I have a few to add as well.
1. The directions are deliberately vague. This didn't bother me as I have a pretty good idea what I'm doing already. But not helpful for someone new to cooking or veganism.
2. Some of the directions she does include I didn't like. She does what most cookbooks do as far as throwing the garlic and the onions in at the same time, which to my mind either undercooks the onions or burns the garlic. One recipe (Split-pea soup) she had me throw the onions and garlic into boiling water! I shrugged my shoulders and trusted her - we did not enjoy the taste of boiled onions.
An Indian woman once explained to me how to cook a curry paste, and I use the method when starting any pertinent recipe: Saute the onions in a little oil at medium-high ("really well, quite hot and for quite a while, until crisp but not black")(this gets rid of the bad part of the onion taste), then turn to low, add finely grated garlic and ginger, fresh curry powder (store in the freezer) and a little water. Cut tomatoes fine and cook to a paste. She said to pre-cook the veggies, but I don't usually do that, then add fresh coconut milk and cilantro. So that was her recipe and I adapt that cooking method to whatever I'm doing, you know, substitute other dried herbs/spices for the curry, put the fresh herbs in last, etc.
So except for that Split Pea Soup, I just ignored her directions and did my own thing.Read more ›
* Many recipes are low-fat
* Excellent food made with simple recipes. Recipes to try include:
Acorn Squash with Herbs
Red Lentil Dahl
Black Eyed Pea Dahl
Curried Peas and Potatoes
* MAJOR PROBLEM: some of the recipes contain honey. Even though this is easily substituted, this is unacceptable for a vegan cookbook. For this reason, I would not give this book as a gift to anyone who was not vegan unless they understood that vegans do not consume honey. I wouldn't want them to make me a recipe with honey in it.
* Provides little in the way of information on recipes. This relly is _just_ a recipe book. No detail is given on the origin of recipes, other than in the title. This results in a slimmer book. She gets right to the point. If you're used to background information on recipes, tips, tricks, etc, then you will be disappointed.
* VERY simple instructions (can be a pro, if you know what you're doing)
All in all, it's a great cookbook and it deserves a place on your bookshelf.
PS: Here's a tip on some of her recipes, specifically the dals. Instead of boiling the spices with the other ingredients, sautee olive oil in a nonstick pan, add onion and garlic with the spices and cook for 5 minutes. Add at the end of the cooking instead of the beginning. This results in a much spicer, fuller flavor.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you have no idea how to make simple vegan recipes, this book is a decent place to start, but frankly the food lacks imagination and, in some cases, flavor. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Ally
Brilliant cookbook, cannot recommend enough for well balanced, satisfying vegan dishes. Absolutely worth every penny.Published 10 months ago by H. Clark
Recipes are excellent, clearly detailed and easily followed. I had this book before, lent it to a friend and was so happy that they converted to the vegan lifestyle, I just could... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Molly Lee
Excellent book. I really like the recipes for the curries, they are easy to follow and increase your knowledge about the spices that get into.Published 21 months ago by a----a-a
I "accidentally" ran across the first pressing of this book at the local thrift shop. It is now my go-to book for plant-based recipes. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Gift
This book makes the vegan lifestyle and cooking so accessible for everyone. I became a vegan for reasons other than those of animal rights and the introduction of this book... Read morePublished on January 8, 2014 by Colleen
The author has some great recipes. I love the tricks and tips that can be used for other things as well.Published on October 20, 2013 by Terri g
I bought this as i was just becoming vegan, ut I have not found it to really enhance my cookbook colection for Vegans. Don't use it muchPublished on October 13, 2013 by Raejean Carter