'The Vegan Bible' by Marie Laforêt
This review has been organised by the VEGAN lifestyle ASSOCIATION [https://veganlifestyleassoc.com/]. It has not been paid for and the copy of the book I received was sent free of charge. This is my genuine and unbiased review of the book.
It is published by Grub Street Publishing - http://www.grubstreet.co.uk
I am well aware that there are now more and more people who are wanting to become vegan – or are in the middle of the transformation. For many it is not easy – they have usually been brought up to believe that it is important to base our diet around protein – and animal protein at that. Also that we need meat and dairy products to provide us with essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, various vitamins, calcium, iron etc
Once they realise that this is not the case, they then begin to wonder exactly what they should be eating to make sure that they are getting enough calories and all of the required nutrients to remain healthy and strong. There is much conflicting advice on the internet and this book really can be used as a ‘Bible’ for so many people – whether already vegan or in the process of adopting a vegan lifestyle.
‘The Vegan Bible’ is written principally by Marie Laforêt.
'Fascinated by plants and vegetables and committed to cooking in an ethical, healthy gourmet way, Marie Laforêt shares her culinary discoveries and experiments on her blog '100% végétal'.
Also a photographer, her photos accompany her recipes. In addition, she is involved in promoting responsible eating through numerous community projects.
She is also the author of books such as Desserts gourmands sans oeufs ni lait (Eggless and Dairy Free Desserts) and Coco (Coconut) published by La Plage.'
There is an excellent introduction, in which Marie considers some of the issues which may have to be faced when eliminating ALL animal products :
'But, how do you cook vegan? Do you have to eat tofu? How do you make cakes without eggs? And barbecues with friends? What to do then? Don’t panic! This book will provide you with the gradual means to discover vegan cuisine. It will show you how to cook plant-based proteins, replace eggs and dairy products, cook vegetables and find your way around gourmet, classic and more unusual recipes. You will even learn how to make your own fermented non-dairy cheeses, create impressive desserts for celebrations, and make almost every classic dish in a 100% vegan way. Whether you are a beginner in the kitchen or a well-versed enthusiast, pressed for time or on a budget, you will find recipes to suit your needs, and dishes to enjoy whatever the season or occasion.'
She also discusses the difference between being vegetarian and vegan, as well as the distinction between an ‘Ethical’ vegan and simply eating a vegan diet. This latter point continues to be a matter of some debate and disagreement even within the vegan community!
Obviously, the main ethical arguments in favour of adopting a vegan lifestyle are those of the exploitation of animals and the cruelty and suffering involved in animal agriculture.
In addition, there are the environmental implications. Marie quotes the following figures :
• 18% of greenhouse gases are the result of the result of livestock production, more than the amount released by all the world’s transport put together (some sources would suggest that it is significantly higher than 18%)
• According to the FAO, livestock production is responsible for 64% of ammonia emissions which contribute to acid rain.
• Approximately 70% of farmable land is taken up by livestock production or the cultivation of
Next, she considers how it is best to change to a vegan lifestyle – is it best to be done gradually or all in one go? Whilst some people undoubtedly do not find it a problem to change overnight, others can find this quite difficult and need to get there by a series of stages.
By way of reassurance, Marie says :
'If you are afraid of finding these changes difficult, bear in mind that I have talked to many vegans about this and they all agree that not only is it much easier than it looks, but that becoming vegan was probably one of the best decisions of their lives.'
I can concur wholeheartedly with this!
Next, she considers to what extent it is necessary to try and make vegan food appear to be like meat or other animal products, such as cheese. For me, the answer is an emphatic NO – I am perfectly happy eating plants and have absolutely no need to try and make them appear to be anything else! However, there are many vegans who feel that he best way to encourage non-vegans to stop consuming animal products is to make their food as close as possible to what they have been used to eating.
So what about foods with names like ‘Tofurkey’, ‘soyghurt’, ‘soysausages’ and many more? Sometimes, these are referred to as ‘fake’ or ‘mock’ foods. Again, such names tend to suggest that many vegan foods are trying to emulate animal based foods and vegans do not really eat ‘proper’ food! The recipes in this book demonstrate that this is far from the case! I agree with Marie that the use of adjectives like ‘non-dairy’, ‘plant-based’ or ‘vegan’ is perfectly acceptable and clear to understand.
Following the introduction, there is a section called ‘Nutrition Tips for a Balance Vegan Diet’. It is written by Dr Jérȏme Bernard-Pellet.
'A Doctor in nutrition, Dr Jérôme Bernard-Pelle trained at Paris-V Medical University and has carried out research on vegetarianism and veganism for over ten years. With a Master's Degree in biostatistics and clinical research, he is passionate about evidence-based medicine and quality healthcare based on using the best, currently available scientific data. He is also co-founder of APSARes, the Association of Health Professionals for Responsible Diet which promotes a better diet for health as well as aiming to reduce people's environmental footprint as much as possible.'
In this section, he discusses the health implications – and benefits – of a plant based diet.
Most of the information contained in this chapter is not from secondary sources such as websites, books, opinions of various experts, official government recommendations, or other sources. It comes from what are called 'primary' sources, in other words, scientific articles published in international peer-reviewed medical journals.
He makes the following points :
The year 2013 was a turning point in the history of the study of vegan diets. For the first time, there was irrefutable proof that a well-designed vegan diet lowered overall mortality from all causes.
This study showed that over a period of 6 years, the risk of dying was 15% lower in vegans than in omnivores, and 9% lower in lacto-ovo-vegetarians than omnivores. This proves that a vegan diet is better from a health perspective than a vegetarian diet, which in turn is better than an omnivorous diet. In a nutshell, a vegan diet extends life expectancy.
It is easy to balance a vegan diet by principally including six main food groups: vegetables, whole fruits, whole grains, pulses (i.e. lentils, dried beans, soy beans, split peas, chickpeas, broad beans, etc.), nuts (walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios, etc.) and sprouted and non-sprouted seeds (flaxseeds, sesame seeds, sunflower, etc.).
The question most asked of vegans is ‘Where do you get your Protein?’
Dr Bernard-Pellet points out that the three main sources of proteins in plants are pulses, cereals and grains, and nuts and oily seeds.
To date, and contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence that animal protein is superior to plant protein, as has been demonstrated by Dr. Young, an internationally renowned researcher specialising in proteins. On the contrary, plant proteins have special properties that animal proteins do not. For example, they are rich in arginine, a non-essential amino acid that allows the body to synthesise nitric oxide, an essential compound for good cardiovascular health and the proper functioning of the immune system.
In a nutshell, it would be fair to say that plant protein is generally better than animal protein, and those who claim otherwise are unable to produce scientific studies to prove it.
The idea that children cannot be vegan is a myth that is not supported by medical papers published in international peer-reviewed journals.
He concludes :
'A vegan diet is a promise of a bright future. And, it is undoubtedly the most environmentally friendly way to eat. It is easy to balance by using vegetables, pulses, whole grains, whole fruit, nuts and oily seeds. It offers undeniable health benefits that lead to longer life expectancy, but also to improving quality of life by preventing many chronic diseases.'
There then follows a huge number of excellent recipes. They are divided into five sections :
Plant based proteins
Substituting dairy Products and Eggs
Cooking for Every Occasion
PLANT BASED PROTEINS
This section is almost 100 pages and includes recipes using
Grains - every grain available, including quinoa, buckwheat, couscous etc
Seitan – how to make seitan and use it many different ways
Pulses – the whole range of available beans and lentils
Soy – recipes involving Tofu and Tempeh
Seaweeds – explaining how to incorporate a variety of seaweeds
There are a wide range of recipes for
Pȃtés and dips
Different types of Hummus
Galettes (round ‘cakes’)
SUBSTITUTING DAIRY PRODUCTS AND EGGS
50 pages of excellent recipes
There are many recipes for making a range of non-dairy milks from a variety of nuts.
When these milks are sieved, the fibre that is removed is known at ‘Okara’ (the Japanese word for soy pulp) is highly nutritious and can be used in various ways. There are recipes here to use it for making biscuits and a green olive terrine.
In addition to non-dairy milks, there are many recipes for making a whole range of non-dairy cheeses – mostly using tofu or cashew nuts.
In this section, there is an interesting discussion about which oils to use and vegetarian margarines. Marie points out the problems surrounding Palm Oil and suggests that the majority of vegans should probably avoid using Palm Oil and buying products which have it as an ingredient. She suggests generally trying to use coconut oil instead (though, recently, there has been much posted about the cruel way in which monkeys are used to harvest coconuts – and urging vegans to consider avoiding coconut products)
On a personal note, I try to eat a Whole Food Plant Based diet and so avoid all added oils whenever possible.
However, there are many recipes here for making a range of vegan margarines and creams.
Most vegans would not consider eating eggs. However, if they happen to have rescue hens, the question is sometimes raised as to whether it is OK to eat their eggs, rather than waste them.
Some think that this is a difficult one – but, as far as I’m concerned, it is unacceptable for vegans to eat ANY animal products – and there are certainly health concerns around the eating of eggs – given their levels of fat, cholesterol and animal protein.
For those who choose not to use eggs, there are a whole range of alternative recipes for dishes that would normally require eggs.
These include pastries, cakes, pancakes, waffles, blinis, mayonnaise and various sauces.
This section also has recipes for scrambled tofu.
Another 50 pages
Clearly, vegetables must play a major role in any vegan diet. In this section, Marie includes recipes for using vegetables in a whole range of different ways ;
Terrines and Dips
Soups and Purées
Gratins and other baked dishes
Pizzas (including a recipe for the dough)
Recipes using fruit.
There are also some raw recipes in this section.
Snacks for sharing
Desserts and puddings
Fruit tarts and cakes
Many recipes including chocolate
COOKING FOR EVERY OCCASION
Dinner for family and friends
Menus for children
Barbecues and picnics
Marie's websites are :
Her Twitter username is @100vegetal
The Vegan Bible can be purchased at