I Am That Girl Now

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Someone needs to write this cookbook

A short, concise plea to the Cookbook-Writing Powers That Be: Please, for the love of God, someone needs to write a book/cookbook entitled "What Do I Feed My Vegetarian Daughter?" or "Help! My Kid Is a Vegetarian! What Do I Cook?" or "HOLY GOD, There's A Vegetarian Visiting My Home". After much research in this area, I have to tell you that this is a) a market that is dying for something to fill it and b) a market that has yet to be filled by anyone who has any sympathy for the simple parents who are so baffled by this conundrum.

My poor mom, after years of cheerfully going her Midwestern way and cooking what she knew how to cook, is baffled about what to feed my sister the vegetarian. She has not yet been told about me and my no-food-with-legs diet, because I'm afraid that it might put her completely over the edge and into despair over what she can possibly cook for holidays anymore. I mean, it was a big step up this year when she had the great idea to stock Gardenburger products, so my sister wasn't faint with hunger over the entire holiday.

I had the great idea of buying her a vegetarian cookbook for her birthday, something with some simple recipes, using ingredients that did not have to be purchased at a specialty store, that she could make when she had the Visiting Vegetarians to deal with. So confident was I that there must be a product to fill this niche that I Googled the phrase "vegetarian daughter cookbook" and was baffled when nothing came up besides posts on vegetarian message boards discussing how to raise small children on a vegetarian diet-- posts in which the parents were also vegetarians. I eventually spent hours on end combing through cookbooks at Amazon and settled on a Betty Crocker vegetarian cookbook, trusting that ol' Betty would be kind enough not to send my mother screaming into the night by making her buy tempeh or seitan. (Thus far, it seems to be a success.)

The thing is, this is far from an uncommon situation. Everyone I know who's a vegetarian is a) octo-lacto (and occasionally sea-food-o and, in moments of dark temptation, bacon-o), b) from a traditionally omnivorous family, and c) resigned to spending every Thanksgiving and Christmas eating cheese sandwiches and selective side dishes. (This does not count online buddies, for the moment.) Many are the tales I have heard of mothers who just throw up their hands in despair and say, "Well, I guess you can eat the side dishes; I'm not cooking two dinners." A few Christmases back, my Hub felt so sorry for my sister that he took over my mother's kitchen and threw together a special vegetarian soup just for her, out of ingredients found in my mother's cupboard-- a move which cemented him as an okay guy in my sister's books.

I have no statistics on this, but I know that this is far from uncommon. My guess would be that most vegetarians have omnivorous parents, and that the parents are baffled. Why has nobody written a book on the subject?

And no, I can't write one myself. I'm still trying to figure out what to eat, for pity's sake. Half the reason I was hoping to find a good cookbook that would suit my mother was that I was hoping to be able to get a second copy for myself. Why, why, WHY is this so hard?

I think I may need to create some kind of challenge: the "tasty vegetarian food in 10 ingredients or less" challenge that has a basic "pantry" list, outside of which you could not venture. Hrm. What do you guys think?


  • i think the lovely woman who does the most excellent Vegan Lunchbox blog has some great links/mentions of vegie cookbooks that are simple and family oriented. Plus it's a great blog to find lunch ideas! - http://veganlunchbox.blogspot.com/

    it makes my day when thou has updated, WOOHOO! :)

    By Anonymous dietgirl, at 2:38 PM  

  • My favorite vegetarian cookbook lately (and I have many) is the Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home, as it features tasty foods that are (at least sometimes) not too foreign, and are generally pretty fast and easy. Also, it acknowledges that sometimes you're just going to use canned beans (not soaking them overnight and then cooking them for hours) and dried herbs rather than fresh and such...

    By Anonymous Emily, at 4:18 PM  

  • I'd also tell the same you vegan lunch box would be place to go
    she mentions cookbooks and is working on her own

    By Blogger iportion, at 6:30 PM  

  • Several suggestions:
    1. Think "mainstream" foods that are vegetarian, e.g., cheesy lasagna, vegetable omelette, spaghetti with a vegetarian sauce, etc.

    2. Buy "veggie foods" as substitutes: e.g., the family eats hamburgers but you serve the veggie person a veggie burger.

    3. The Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet, by Nava Atlas (a well-known cookbook author), www.broadwaybooks.com, US price $15.95

    4. Quick Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin, Harper Collins, $15.00

    Hope this helps.


    By Anonymous Silvia, at 7:41 AM  

  • My boyfriend is a vegetarian and I am very definitely NOT (tried that, didn't work, don't want to be one), and we live together so I understand this problem in a fairly major way.

    For the holidays, Tofurkey is a great substitute if you find it appealing. Veggie burgers and chixpatties are also great, and reccently, morningstar came out with some "beef" strips (although I was vastly disappointed in them).


    By Blogger JessiferSeabs, at 8:25 AM  

  • How about Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. She wrote the Greens Cookbook (I don't know if you've ever been to Greens - in San Francisco - but it's fantastic. I'm an avowed meat-eater and I love that place.

    By Blogger velo girl, at 12:02 PM  

  • Oh wow, I'm not sure about recipe or book suggestions. However, I want to emphasize the importance of finding a good sources of both protein and iron. Some good protein sources would include tofu and nuts. I know spinach in high in iron, but their are other veggies as well that can help you out in that department.

    By Anonymous Gloria, at 12:21 PM  

  • Amazon has a book: "Help! My Child Stopped Eating Meat! is the first book of its kind to provide a comprehensive parental guide that addresses parent-child conflicts over diet. Its five chapters, with topics arranged alphabetically for easy reference, cover family and emotional issues, nutritional issues, philosophy and peer-relationships, and practical issues. The final chapter, "What's Left to Eat," consists of mouth-watering, original recipies.

    This practical and timely book will be a welcome resources for all parents concerned about the well-being and health of their vegetarian children.

    By Blogger Cheese, at 10:05 PM  

  • Second the Deborah Madison suggestion. Fabulous and non-exotic recipes (there are, of course, more exotic recipes in there, but they can't be too exotic because we live in a small town that keeps GARLIC in the "fancy foods" section of the produce department. So. Bitter? Me?)

    Your mom will be able to find main dishes, side dishes, dips, snacks, appetizers, desserts -- everything vegetarian and a lot vegan in there.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:01 AM  

  • I like "The Vegetarian Times Complete Cookbook." It has fantastic recipes, regardless of meat/meatless content.

    By Blogger M@rla, at 6:36 PM  

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