The best cookbooks for making plant-based cooking a habit

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been writing vegetarian cookbooks for almost 15 years, and have had many different jobs in the world of food – cooking in restaurants, running a small food business, working food photography shoots, and much more. While in my day-to-day eating, I go on and off following a strict plant-based diet, it’s long been my default style of eating because I find it to be so healthy, affordable, and fun! I’m never not excited and inspired by the abundance and diversity of vegetables and the incredible techniques and dishes that cuisines around the world have done with them. 


I wrote...

Snacks for Dinner: Small Bites, Full Plates, Can't Lose

By Lukas Volger,

Book cover of Snacks for Dinner: Small Bites, Full Plates, Can't Lose

What is my book about?

In Snacks for Dinner, Lukas Volger transforms carefree noshing into nourishing meals with recipes to inspire your own make-from-scratch snack spreads that are not only quick to make, but also deeply satisfying. The perfect snack-y dinner revolves around traits – Crispy-Crunchy, Tangy-Juicy,  Scooped and Smeared, Centerpiece-ish, Small but Mighty Spoon Salads & Soup Shots, Sturdy Support (Crackers, Breads, & Chips), and Sips and Sweets – components that can be mixed and matched to create a palate-pleasing meal. With Volger’s simple, wholesome, recipes and pairing guidance, snacks for dinner is no longer shameful—but a healthy, fun, and respectable choice. 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of To Asia, with Love: Everyday Asian Recipes and Stories from the Heart

Lukas Volger Why did I love this book?

Hetty McKinnon’s recipes just have a wonderful, well-worn feeling, and indeed, my copy of this book is riddled with grease splatters and dog-eared pages. This is the stuff that’s real-life approved – meaning that it’s truly manageable for busy weeknights, it’s broadly appealing family fare, and every single recipe is a keeper. But thankfully it isn’t organized around shortcuts or hacks. Instead, as the title suggests, this is a very personal, very moving love letter to the food of her youth, to her mother, and to her heritage, and I enjoy reading it just as much as I enjoy cooking from it. 

By Hetty McKinnon,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked To Asia, with Love as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For bestselling cookbook author Hetty McKinnon, Asian cooking is personal. McKinnon grew up in a home filled with the aromas, sights, and sounds of her Chinese mother's cooking. These days she strives to recreate those memories for her own family-and yours-with traditional dishes prepared in non-traditional ways. It's a sumptuous collection of creative vegetarian recipes featuring pan-Asian dishes that anyone can prepare using supermarket ingredients. Readers will learn how to make their own kimchi, chili oil, knife-cut noodles, and dumplings. They'll learn about the wonder that is rice and discover how Asian-inspired salads are the ultimate crossover food. McKinnon offers…


Book cover of Whole Food Cooking Every Day: Transform the Way You Eat with 250 Vegetarian Recipes Free of Gluten, Dairy, and Refined Sugar

Lukas Volger Why did I love this book?

Amy Chaplin’s love for plants and respect for the natural world is infectious but never dogmatic – and I think it’s possible to not even notice the absence of grains, refined sugar, and dairy in the recipes here. Full of beautifully photographed and incredibly appetizing everyday food — porridges and breads, nut-and seed milks and butters, soups, muffins, cakes, and more – her approach to cooking with whole foods has made me taste more carefully, think more creatively, and cook more resourcefully. Admittedly, it’s less of a quick-and-easy type of book – good, thoughtful cooking does take time and foresight – but it’s indispensable nonetheless, a gift to those of us seeking to dig deeper and learn more about plant-based cooking.

By Amy Chaplin,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Whole Food Cooking Every Day as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Eating whole foods can transform a diet, and mastering the art of cooking these foods can be easy with the proper techniques and strategies. In 20 chapters, Chaplin shares ingenious recipes incorporating the foods that are key to a healthy diet: seeds and nuts, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and plant-based foods. Chaplin shares her secrets for eating healthy every day: mastering some key recipes and reliable techniques and then varying the ingredients based on the occasion, the season, and what you're craving. Once the reader learns one of Chaplin's base recipes, whether for gluten-free muffins, millet porridge, or baked…


Book cover of Power Plates: 100 Nutritionally Balanced, One-Dish Vegan Meals [A Cookbook]

Lukas Volger Why did I love this book?

This is the book I always recommend to people at the beginning of their vegetarian or vegan journey when they express concern about getting all their nutritional needs covered in their diets. Each recipe is designed to be nutritionally balanced – with a focus on nutritionally dense whole foods, healthy plant-based proteins, fats, and fibers – and they always leave me full and satisfied. But rather than reading like a dry health book, it’s brimming with fresh, colorful, and exciting ideas and recipes that are smart and streamlined, and actually feasible for weeknights.  

By Gena Hamshaw,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Power Plates as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Focused on the art of crafting complete, balanced meals that deliver sustained energy and nourishment, this book features 100 compelling and delicious recipes that just happen to be vegan.

These 100 recipes for wholesome and nourishing vegan food from blogger, nutritionist, and Food52 author Gena Hamshaw help you make delicious vegan meals that deliver balanced and sustained energy. Every recipe contains the key macronutrients of healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and proteins, which together make for a complete meal--things like Smoky Red Lentil Stew with Chard, and Falafel Bowls with Freekah and Cauliflower. Photographs accompany each recipe, showing how Gena's simple…


Book cover of Cool Beans: The Ultimate Guide to Cooking with the World's Most Versatile Plant-Based Protein, with 125 Recipes

Lukas Volger Why did I love this book?

Adopting a bean habit – i.e., always having a tub of cooked beans in the fridge, or several cans in the pantry – is one of the great pleasures of eating less meat and more veggies, and Cool Beans is such a useful treatise on the subject. Its scope shows off the humble bean’s incredible range: stews, soups, and veggie burgers, yes, but also salads, snacks, and desserts, too. It’s no wonder that beans are a staple of nearly every cuisine on the planet! While I personally have never tired of eating a simple pot of simmered beans, with all the fun recipes in here, this book guarantees that legumes will never be boring. 

By Joe Yonan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Cool Beans as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Unlock the possibilities of beans, chickpeas, lentils, pulses, and more with 125 fresh, modern recipes for globally inspired vegetarian mains, snacks, soups, and desserts, from a James Beard Award-winning food writer

“This is the bean bible we need.”—Bon Appétit

JAMES BEARD AWARD NOMINEE • ONE OF THE BEST COOKBOOKS OF THE YEAR: Food Network, NPR, Forbes, Smithsonian Magazine, Wired

After being overlooked for too long in the culinary world, beans are emerging for what they truly are: a delicious, versatile, and environmentally friendly protein. In fact, with a little ingenuity, this nutritious and hearty staple is guaranteed to liven up…


Book cover of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone

Lukas Volger Why did I love this book?

When I was a young cook, I picked up my copy of this opus from a neighbor’s stoop sale, and it immediately became one of my most valued possessions. I’d go to the farmer’s market, buy a vegetable I didn’t recognize, and then back at home consult this, my vegetable bible, for how I should cook it. It has never steered me wrong and 20 years later, I still find new things to learn from it and am always in awe of Deborah Madison’s prescient wisdom on the subject of how to thoughtfully shop, cook, eat, and live. It’s warmly written and exhaustive in its scope – as much of a reference as it is a practical cookbook for regular use. 

By Deborah Madison,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

What Julia Child is to French cooking and Marcella Hazan is to Italian cooking, Deborah Madison is to contemporary vegetarian cooking.  At Greens restaurant in San Francisco, where she was the founding chef, and in her two acclaimed vegetarian cookbooks, Madison elevated vegetarian cooking to new heights of sophistication, introducing many people to the joy of cooking without meat, whether occasionally or for a lifetime.  But after her many years as a teacher and writer, she realized that there was no comprehensive primer for vegetarian cooking, no single book that taught vegetarians basic cooking techniques, how to combine ingredients, and…


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Interested in beans, vegetarianism, and Veganism?

11,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about beans, vegetarianism, and Veganism.

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Veganism Explore 35 books about Veganism