The Easy Vegan has five flaws. First, few recipes are genuinely easy. Most involve multiple time consuming steps, especially given the amount of puree involved. Second, recipes rely on prospective cooks using 1:1 substitutions for meat dishes. While tofu is common enough, vegan steak, vegan crab and vegan chicken are not common in Midwestern co-ops. Including recipes for making them at home might help, but such basics are not included. The third is that the recipes are not, as advertised, healthy. Soy processing makes tofu at best problematic: cooks run the risk of feeding their families dishes full of excess estrogen before even accounting for cholesterol. Far too many recipes call for refined sugar and corn syrup despite healthy vegan substitutes available even in mainstream groceries. The fourth is that the author opts for hard to get ingredients when common ones will do: cornstarch and arrowroot are interchangeable in most recipes, yet Hudson persists in using arrowroot. Fifth, the book relies on meat substitution rather than vegan innovation. As people who transition between vegan and omnivorous diets can attest, lifestyle transitions are only made more difficult when eating food that most certainly does not taste like chicken.
This cookbook is from an outmoded approach to veganism and has a few errors about what qualifies as vegan. For the meticulous vegan, cane sugar does not qualify – bone char is still used to produce it unless specifically manufactured without it. There is an over-reliance on jalapeno and pepper seasonings. While it serves a purpose in Midwestern restaurant cooking to mask vegetables getting old and bitter, in fresh cuts or properly preserved frozen vegetables excess pepper can mask flavor rather than enhance it.
Nearly every recipe in the book apes something from an omnivorous diet rather than owning the rich creative possibilities available in a genuine vegan approach.
~ review by Diana Rajchel
Author: Janet Hudson
Red Wheel Weiser, 2012
pp. 442, $21.95