Customer Review

96 of 106 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Takes a lot of the effort out of vegan cooking, December 2, 2012
This review is from: Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker: 200 Ultra-Convenient, Super-Tasty, Completely Animal-Free Recipes (Paperback)
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While I am not committed to vegetarianism, much less veganism, I do prefer to eat less animal product than I used to, and to that end, I'm always interested in cookbooks that take a lot of the effort out of cooking tasty, animal-free meals. Robin Robertson has done a good job compiling 200 different recipes that run the gamut of vegan food options from appetizers through desserts, drinks and condiments. Even if you only go to animal-free sides and non-entree courses, this is a good resource.

She draws on a number of different ethic influences so you'll get recipes inspired by Italian, Mexican, Indian, and North African cuisine, among others. That means there's a lot of flavor here, and that's a good thing because one of the worst mistakes a vegetarian/vegan cook can make, particularly while attempting to transition away from meat-based meals, is cooking vegetables as if they were still just side dishes. Microwaving a box of frozen peas just doesn't cut it anymore.

Robertson provides a nice spectrum of possibilities with chapters on soups, stews and chilis, entrees, and side dishes which could serve as entrees in their own right. If you're an experienced vegan cook, then this book might help you cut your kitchen time. If you're new to the idea of vegan/vegetarian cooking, it provides a way to transition to a meatless way of life with recipes for things like onion soup, borscht, African peanut stew, bruschetta, vegan pates and more. With everything slow-cooker-based, this pretty much comes down to prep it and forget about it for a few hours.

If I have a quibble with this book, it's a personal one and nothing that affects the quality of the book or the recipes within. I don't like pretending that things like tofu, tempeh and seitan -- all perfectly good protein sources - are the same as meat dishes. The use of the word "rib" in the "Spicy-sweet Seitan Ribs" annoys me, probably out of all proportion to its meaning. But they're not ribs; there's no herd of wild seitans hunted for their succulent rib meat. I suppose it makes it easier for some people to transition from meat-eating to think about the protein substitutes as being meaty, but since I'm a crank, I find it a little too precious. (I feel the same way about "Tofurkey" too. IMO, there's not enough *facepalm* in the world for how cutesy that is.)

Robertson gives us a nice introduction to slow-cooking with tips and equivalencies that will make the process even simpler. She pays particular attention to the cooking of beans which, though they're remarkably nutritious and cheap vegan food, can be tricky to cook well. This should go a long way towards convincing readers that it really isn't hard to buy dry beans and lentils and cook them up for use in some fairly tasty dishes. In short, Robertson has provided a way to get involved in vegan cooking that is fairly painless for most of us.

Even if we have tight schedules, or are flailing around looking for ways to kick the meat habit, there are solutions here. Very little of what Robertson uses in her recipes is uncommon and almost nothing is hard to get unless you live in a small town where things like nutritional yeast and miso aren't common. She even includes recipes for things like vegan cream cheese! One caveat: Robertson uses seitan in a lot of these dishes. If you're gluten-free, be aware that seitan is basically wheat gluten turned into a chewy, protein substitute. There are gluten-free seitans out there, but I can't say I've ever seen them. You'll have to do a bit of stepping to find them, I think.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 10, 2012 6:31:43 PM PST
MDS says:
thank you for the review - having recently focused on a more whole food approach, and still eating small amounts of meat, I'm disappointed by the preponderance of tofu, seitan, etc. in many dishes. Like you, I don't understand the need to replace meat with a look-a-like or sound-a-like; I always appreciate when a reviewer notes whether the cookbook has focus in this area ... Best Regards.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 10, 2012 7:57:20 PM PST
Tracy Rowan says:
Glad I could help.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 30, 2013 12:37:57 AM PST
S Bee says:
Tofu is not a "meat substitute". Educate yourself.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 30, 2013 9:31:15 AM PST
Tracy Rowan says:
It is used as such by many people. You'd make your point better if you avoided being snippy.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 8, 2014 12:19:11 PM PST
I agree with author of the review because I too dislike the use of "tofu turkey" and such because I and most vegans are vegans because of cruelty to animals and compassionate reasons and thus don't want to be reminded of meat. Tofu is tofu, seitan is seitan is seatan plain and simple. I think the reviewer makes a valid point and not at all "snippy."
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Location: Chicago, IL USA

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