Thursday, May 14, 2009

PETA's Vegan College Cookbook Review

I went vegan just after college graduation in the Fall of 1990, and truly, I don't remember too much about college, it happened a LONG time ago. However, I do know I lived in a dorm for four years, where I shared a sparse, dirty kitchen with a couple hundred other dorm kids. If we wanted to cook, we could "check out" cheap pots and pans, or use a microwave (mostly for popcorn), but besides that, the pickin's were pretty slim. Up in our dorm rooms, we were allowed a mini fridge, but nothing that plugged in and heated up, so crock pots and other cooking devices were a giant no-no. Since our school required students to sign up for the campus meal service run by Marriott, we really didn't have much need for cooking. If we missed a meal we'd generally order a pizza.
smartvee
Here Vee contemplates "Me So Corny" Thai Tomato Soup, page 121

The point of all of this boring memory lane biz', is that Sourcebooks recently sent me a copy of their latest 336 page cookbook, PETA's Vegan College Cookbook to read and review. Back in my hey day, we didn't have a lot of vegan options in the cafeteria besides the salad bar, french fries, bagels, dry cereal and orange juice, but these days? I dunno, there's gotta be at least soy milk and one vegan option at every meal, huh? This cookbook has a very noble goal, helping kids be vegan at college, I can't argue with this, I love the vegans. In my fantasy world, everyone is vegan and I hug you all day long--hug, hug, hug.

However, even with this great and important mission, the recipes in this cookbook leave me a little less than enthused. In college, I might've been wildly distracted by any and all upcoming beer bong festivities, but I think it's safe to say, my palate was still a bit too sophisticated for the majority of these recipes. Here are a few of many, so you get the drift: Ramen Holiday (ramen noodles with frozen veggies), Strawberry Field Greens Forever (chicken strips, bagged greens, sliced strawberries, Italian dressing), Nutty Professor Almond Latte (almond milk, instant coffee, sugar), Salsa for Beginners (vegan cream cheese, prepared salsa), and One-Handed Tater (nuked potato, ketchup/mustard).

Not to write this book off completely, since I do think it has a potential audience, just maybe not who the authors intended. This could be a great starting point for a child who is beginning to be interested in the kitchen, y'know, like a "Tween" or maybe someone just a tiny bit younger. Most of these recipes require little oven action, so they could be made with minimal supervision, and they would probably tantalize the younger set with their hip names and directions. Like if i was 11, I think Legume Va-Va-Voom would be a very cool vegan dinner to put together with friends on a Friday night play date.

If this review left you puzzled and/or dazzled for more info about this cookbook, other less snarky reviews can be found on several blogs including: helloveggie, eatingconsciously, thesaladgirl, cookeasyvegan, and everydaydish. Or, if you want your own copy and live in or around the US (so I can mail cheaply), I will happily send you mine (since I'm no longer a "Tween" and have also recently graduated from beer bong interest). Please leave a comment on this fine review telling me something I don't already know about you. When I post again in two weeks or so, I'll use some random generator action to choose the lucky, lucky recipient.

xo
kittee

27 comments:

  1. Those starter recipes are always so lame. I sometimes fantasize about writing a real-life guide to going vegan, not the same old schlock you always see. I bought that Vegan in 30 Days book and I was already wayyyy beyond all the happy-slappy "Replace your meat with mock meat!" b.s.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Your review is pretty right on about the "hip" language of this book being more appropriate for 11-year- olds than college students - my very-recent-college-grad son found it insulting. And he thought the recipes were insulting, too. (The almond latte provoked a particularly rude guffaw.) My first reaction was "oh crap. I can't review this and be nice." That said, I still think there's a large audience for books like this. I'm always startled by the number of people who actually cook this way, but at least they're vegan, and the chicken strips are fake, not real. And some of the "recipes" were actually good. But notice that at the end of my review I offer to give my copy away!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hahaha I love your conclusion here -- "I don't like the book, so you can have my copy!" It's like in school when your friends would say, "Ew, this is gross, want it?"

    It does seem lackadaisical of PETA to not bring their A-game when competing with more and more sophisticated college foodservice. Even six years ago when I worked in my college's foodservice office they were above-and-beyond vegan friendly, including (good!) vegan baked goods almost every day. And that was a college of 1200 in Wisconsin.

    (I thought about sending them a copy of Papa Tofu! Still may, in fact.)

    ReplyDelete
  4. Almond latte. HA! Still, I have nothing against easy schmeezy vegan recipes when I'm pressed for time so I wouldn't necessarily dismiss the book at all - not without at least giving it a skim.

    Let's see - something you don't know about me... After 10 years of being vegetarian I went vegan a year ago on my birthday, which makes my first veganversary a week away.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What you don't know about me is I have a 16 year old daughter who is vegan and loves to cook your pie recipes. She has already asked me for this book. I am not sure if she will be disapointed or not with its contents as she can cook and be more sophisticated...but she likes to eat and be lazy and have really easy stuff too!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Even though the recipes sound super easy, that's the kind of stuff I ate in college. I wasn't vegan then (just lacto-ovo) and I was also doing a lot of, um, party activities...so I didn't care much about sophisticated foods. When you have the munchies, a nuked tater with ketchup can be the best food in the world! So I think I'd have loved this book back then...maybe not so much now.

    ReplyDelete
  7. What you don't know about me is I have a 16 year old daughter who is vegan and loves to cook your pie recipes. She has already asked me for this book. I am not sure if she will be disapointed or not with its contents as she can cook and be more sophisticated...but she likes to eat and be lazy and have really easy stuff too!

    ReplyDelete
  8. too bad you already know everything about me!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Well, since you don't know me, there is a lot you don't know about me! I have been a vegan for 9 years (and was vegetarian for a long time before that), but would still love the cookbook. I am a geek who loves cookbooks and trying new recipes, no matter how lame and simple they are. Sometimes you just don't want to think and having a cookbook do it for you is nice :o)

    Thanks!
    Courtney

    ReplyDelete
  10. hmm, as I college student, I would say some of that was not so bad but...only for beginners. Usually vegan students (that I know)) have a couple fav meals that they eat anyway.
    Sigh. the good news is that dorms are different now a days. there are more options (as far as kitchens go) and more off-campus living. YAY

    (but PETA?? They scare me)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you so much for the Papa Tofu cookbook! My son was with me when it came in the mail, and he had to get the first look! He follows in his sister Shelly's footsteps in his love of vegan cooking. I am still trying to incorperate more healthy dishes into our diet. You really have my heartfelt thanks for taking the time to make my birthday so special. Love, Mamafish

    ReplyDelete
  12. I graduated from Michigan State in 2005, and as of 2004 when I still lived on campus, there were tons of vegetarian options but very few vegan options. The vegetarian options were mostly things smothered in cheese, but they were there! Maybe it's because I wasn't necessarily looking for the vegan options, but even now, thinking back, I get the sense that it would have been slim pickin'. I went vegan shortly after moving off campus but while I was still attending college. We did eat a lot of stupid things that were vegan but not necessarily the most sophisticated or even healthy... but we didn't put these meal ideas into a cookbook and pretend like they were brilliant or inspirational in any way. I think you're absolutely right about the audience of such a cookbook being much younger. As a 'real' adult (can I call myself that at 26? what if I don't even drink coffee yet?), I have trouble considering it edible if it didn't arrive fresh from my garden, local from the farmers' markets, or derived from ingredients at our regional health food stores (or the natural foods section at our local grocery stores). We even make direct purchases from companies like Eden Foods. So any prepackaged items (Ramen noodles, etc.) don't even register to me as "food" at this point in my life! I don't think PETA is trying to reach or target my age group, but I would add that maybe single college males could be added to the 'tweens' demographic in terms of food tastes (just from what I recall about men in college LOL).

    ReplyDelete
  13. Yeah, I agree. I think I was too nice in my review. I actually bought a copy for my 16 year old vegan sister, because I think that's a much better audience (though she already loves to cook, so it might be too simple for her...). I would have sent her mine but it was only a few dollars more to get it on amazon (free shipping) and no hassle of going to the post office.

    I felt like the recipes were not recipes. They were just meal ideas, and the language was annoying. I think a better book for college students would be something that teaches them a bit about nutrition, because I was totally lost when I went to college. I ended up gaining the freshman 20 and then crash dieting back down.

    Anyway, good review :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. I generally despise all things PETA, but I'm curious about this new cookbook. I am a vegan in college, their target demographic!
    Random fact about me: I have been vegan for almost 3 months!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I felt old when I looked through that cookbook. But I'm sure the college set loves it.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I can't imagine you know anything about me ... unless you have some sort of knoxville-based spy organization. So ... here it is -- I once out drank four Korean men at dinner. It may have been the most impressive thing about me to them ...

    ReplyDelete
  17. Hey there! I agree with your review. I was somewhat disappointed in the cookbook recipes. Creativity wise and health wise, for sure. Since when is beginners salsa cream cheese + salsa? You've already got the salsa! Haha. But again, I agree with you, and their intention was in the right place.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I was offered this book, but haven't written back to them. I'm not sure what I'll do with microwave recipe!

    ReplyDelete
  19. You should give this cookbook to Craig, since he doesn't really cook it might be a good starting off point for him.

    ReplyDelete
  20. Let's see...something you wouldn't know about me from visiting my blog...Well, I have a fascination with dreadlocks and piercing but would never get any myself!

    ReplyDelete
  21. i am an 18 year old vegan college student, and i have this. believe me, when you're hungry and the college meal plan vegan options are virtually nonexistent, this book is amazing. everything can be made in my room microwave which is even better.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Good blogging with a lot of great post.. really a nice post
    online dating site that will help you find your soul mate and unlimited friends just free of cost. If you feel that meeting people should be easy and natural then Tringuladating is perfect for you. We also believe in the fact that meeting your love should not be at the cost of your bank balance and thus provide you with a free of charge, liberated dating environment. You can visit this online dating website http://tringuladating.com/ .

    ReplyDelete
  23. I have been visiting various blogs for my term papers writing research. I have found your blog to be quite useful. Keep updating your blog with in valuable information... Regards

    ReplyDelete
  24. hi.. very good blog.
    this article is very interesting, i think that the PETA is a good organization, one that sometimes are very extreme

    Charles
    dirty talk advices

    ReplyDelete
  25. larry13767 http://www.nejcpass.com/pass/tag/simplydemi-com/

    ReplyDelete
  26. I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I think I will leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Peta's Vegan College Cookbook is a good opportunity that I've had to cook very well and to surprise some friends it really worked to me.

    ReplyDelete

I like comments, unless you're a spammer.
Spamming kills baby sea turtles.