Saturday, May 23, 2009

PETA's Vegan College Cookbook: A Review

I wasn't a vegan as an undergrad, a fact I am sometimes grateful for when I see the food offerings on campus these days (and when I think of how hard it was even to get a decent vegetarian option back then). While things are getting better these days, vegan options are still few and far between. To make matters worse, dorms have pretty much restricted cooking appliances to a microwave and a kettle (unless you want to use the communal kitchen at the end of the hall, which no one ever does). So, until you can get an off campus house with your own stove, what's a college vegan to do?

One answer is PETA's new Vegan College Cookbook--275 recipes all made (well, almost all) in the microwave. Written with wit and flair, the book makes no apologies for what it is: a collection of recipes that make liberal use of fake meat, dairy, eggs, and cheese (there is even a comprehensive mini encyclopedia of all the vegan alternatives available). The recipes are comprehensive, including the expected lunch, breakfast, and dinner; but also with sections devoted to salads, soups and stews, drinks, dips, snacks, and desserts. If you've ever been a student you will appreciate the special spotlight on ramen noodles.

For those of us with access to a stove, this book is probably of limited use (though there are some good ideas for quick and easy snacks and drinks), but I think the book is perfect for college students (and I should know--I teach them!). While I would like to see more focus on fresh veggies and perhaps some raw dishes, let's not kid ourselves: cleaning out the crisper is not high on the "to do" list for freshmen. The great thing about the book is that you don't have to be a culinary wizard to execute these recipes. So, kids, if you are college-bound (and if your parents are wondering what you will eat whilst at school), consider PETA's Vegan College Cookbook.