Cookbook Review – PETA Vegan College Cookbook

My tummy is still feeling off, and I haven’t really eaten anything interesting since lunch yesterday. Since I’m pretty sure you have no desire to look at pictures of plain toast, tea, juice, and english muffins, I figure now is a good time to post a few thoughts on this cookbook (as I had totally missed doing so way back when everyone else did).

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To be quite honest, when I was given the opportunity to check out and review this book, I was a bit torn as to whether I should accept. I am really NOT a fan of the way PETA goes about conveying their message – too much propaganda for my liking. But at the same time, I was really interested in the cookbook itself, because who doesn’t like quick, cheap, and easy meal ideas?

As you can see, I’ve flagged numerous recipes in the book, which means I found some ones I want to try. I think there were some good ones that brought some new flavour combinations to my eye. So far, I’ve only gotten around to making one recipe – the Haas Party Avocado Soup.

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Mine wasn’t actually vegan though, since I only had cow’s milk in the house, but it was tasty none the less. And I also made it on the stovetop, adding more spices to get a more complex flavour. What can I say, some of the recipes are a little TOO basic for someone with a full pantry of spices 😉

I was mostly drawn to the recipes that used real ingredients. I found there to be alot of emphasis on fake meat/cheese products. As someone who does eat meat, if I’m going to make vegan recipes, I don’t want to be using faux omnivore products. I want to make vegan recipes that highlight plant foods, and don’t try to be omnivore dishes. I appreciate though, that if you are a vegan, you may want to see uses for these products as well.

There are some other issues I have with the book as well. I think there were alot of recipes in there for filler, just so they could boast that in contains “275 easy, cheap, and delicious recipes to keep you vegan at school”. Do we really need a recipe for a peanut butter & banana sandwich? Faux ham & cheese? Seriously. I actually find even including that a bit insulting to reader. Even if you are the most novice cook, do you need to be told how to make a peanut butter & banana sandwich? I would hope that if you were able to make it into college, you can throw together a basic sandwich.

As many others have said, the serving sizes do not make sense for alot of the recipes. Although I don’t necessarily care about the serving size, sometimes you like to have it there as a guideline as to how much a recipe will make so you know how many you can feed with it, what kind of leftovers you’ll have, etc. But when you really pay attention to the amounts of each ingredient you are putting in, they just don’t add up.

The little “Did You Know” facts at the beginning of each chapter really got to me. This is where the PETA propaganda-ness reared it’s ugly head, in my opinion. Let’s look at the one at the beginning of the Spotlight On Ramen as an example:

“Meat, dairy products, and eggs are completely devoid of fiber and complex carbohydrates, the nutrients that we’re supposed to be consuming more of, and are laden with saturated fat and cholesterol, which makes us fat and lethargic in the short term and lead to clogged arteries and heart attacks in the long term.”

Sentence structure aside (really, couldn’t you have broken that up into maybe 2 sentences?), that is a pretty sweeping, generalized, misinformed statement. There are plenty of low-fat or lean choices that someone who consumes meat and dairy can make so that they aren’t “fat and lethargic”. And just because you don’t eat meat/dairy, doesn’t mean you can’t be fat and lethargic yourself, with clogged arteries and heart attacks. The scientist in me wishes there was citation for all these “facts” they provide in each chapter.

As you can see, I obviously wasn’t that big of a fan. I don’t think it’s because I’m not a vegan myself, but because of the way the whole thing is presented. It’s definitely not a book I would have picked up myself at the store. I would like to try out some more of the recipes in it though, as they do honestly look good. Would I recommend it? I don’t know. I think there are better vegan cookbooks out there, but I’m sure it would appeal more to someone who is college aged and has little cooking ability. I don’t think I was the target audience for this book.

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6 Comments on “Cookbook Review – PETA Vegan College Cookbook”

  1. May 31, 2009 at 2:29 pm #

    I love your completely honest review of this book! I completely agree with you about the way PETA conveys their messages.

    I also agree that some of the recipes in there are ‘fillers’ and are not necessary. I don’t have the book, nor have I ever read it, but just from your review I think i’d have a lot of the same opinions and would likely not buy this book!

  2. May 31, 2009 at 4:39 pm #

    Thanks for the review. I agree that because I do eat meat, if I’m gonna cook vegan it will be with veg, beans and fruit instead of fake meat. And not being vegan, I have never really understood why a vegan would want to eat something resembling and tasting like meat. That in itself seems to be a contradiction of sorts. I hope this doesn’t come across as offensive….it’s just something I’ve always wondered about! I may see if I can borrow this book from the library because I am curious!

  3. May 31, 2009 at 5:32 pm #

    UGH!!! I completely agree with you on that statement. I mean, yeah, meat CAN BE high in saturated fat and cholesterol, but it doesn’t HAVE to be! Haven’t they heard of LEAN CUTS? Also, it’s not meat that makes is fat, it’s sugar, and refined carbs, come on! Great review 🙂

  4. May 31, 2009 at 5:35 pm #

    Thanks for the great review. I’m also not a fan of how PETA promotes their message. I think they’re very overbearing and too into the shock factor. Some of their “facts,” don’t make sense either– like “dairy makes you fat.” I recently won this book in a giveaway, so I’m interested to see the recipes myself 🙂

    Have a great night!

  5. May 31, 2009 at 5:36 pm #

    I’ve seen so many people reading this book in the blog world lately, so I appreciate an honest review. I’m not vegan, but I don’t eat meat and also look for products that are natural and not full of chemicals and faux tastes/ingredients.

    Although I support the general idea of PETA (who doesn’t want ethical treatment for animals?), I am often turned off by their brash claims and methods. No offense to anyone else, but my thought is that this book is probably aimed for those uneducated in nutrition and culinary education (think college student who just found out hamburgers are made from cows and being vegan is now trendy). If you don’t know any different, I suppose you would take what they say as the gospel.

    Just found your blog and plan on lurking again (and rambling less). Would love to know how the avocado soup thing turned out.

  6. broccolihut
    May 31, 2009 at 9:27 pm #

    Totes agree–this cookbook is way lame in comparison to other vegan cookbooks. Can’t even hold a candle to my beloved ED&BV.

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