Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.
— Albert Einstein
October is Vegetarian Awareness Month, and there are some awesome books to check out and explore on the topic. Although vegetarianism (adhering to a diet that does not include meat or fish) and veganism (following a diet that excludes all animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs, and honey) are two very different lifestyles, both will be shared here.
There are tons of vegetarian and vegan cookbooks for adults, but there are also great ones geared for teens. Most of these books give important information on nutrition, advice on how to explain to your friends and family the decision you have made, and my favorite part: recipes. They also discuss why vegetarianism is important to different people: for some it is not harming animals, for some it is conserving the earth’s resources, and for others it is all about eating healthily.
- Generation V: The Complete Guide to Going, Being, and Staying Vegan as a Teenager by Claire Askew discusses what it’s like to become a vegan while in your teen years. The author’s voice is very welcoming and lighthearted as she shares stories of how she and others became vegan in their teen years; how to deal with parents and other family members, friends, and peers; and how to be inspired to stay vegan.
- Munchie Madness by Dorothy Bates, Bobbie Hinman, and Robert Oser discusses the treatment of animals at most slaughterhouses, including information on hormones and additives. The authors continue with information on the dietary needs of teenagers and how a vegetarian diet can be beneficial to your health. Tips are included on how to handle eating out with friends, dating, and school lunches. There are lots of great recipes that are geared just for teens, such as Chunky Monkey Shake, Bean and Cheese Pockets, and Chili Dogs.
- The Teen’s Vegetarian Cookbook by Judy Krizmanic was the book my mom bought my 18-year-old sister when she became a vegetarian last year. She finds lots of the recipes to be fun, easy, and tasty, such as Rainbow Veggie Stir-Fry and Veggie Fried Rice. It also has a chapter on college cuisine to get you prepared for what it might be like as a vegetarian college student. This is a good first cookbook for teens that haven’t had lots of experience cooking. Keep an eye out for the “insanely easy” recipes if you are just starting out!
- Vegetables Rock!: A Complete Guide for Teenage Vegetarians by Stephanie Pierson is geared towards vegetarians but with vegans in mind. The list of recipes has a “v” symbol next to the recipes that are vegan, such as Over-Stuffed Baked Potato, Honey-Mustard Fried Tempeh, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Crispy Rice Treats. Pierson shares a list of current celebrity vegetarians and famous past vegetarians, such as Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin, and includes inspiring quotes about the importance of vegetarianism.
- Student’s Vegetarian Cookbook and Student’s Go Vegan Cookbook by Carole Raymond are both geared towards young adults. With an emphasis on the recipes being easy and cheap, Raymond also gives exposure to a variety of foods young adults may have never tried. The recipes are healthy and yet very eye-appealing to teens, such as Tex-Mex Tempeh Tacos, Deja Vu Sloppy Joes, and Ten-Minute Brownies.
There are a few books that are geared for adults and will explain the health aspects of vegetarianism and veganism more thoroughly. The New Becoming Vegetarian: The Essential Guide to a Healthy Vegetarian Diet and Becoming Vegan: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Plant-Based Diet by Vesanto Melina and Brenda Davis, Vegan for Life: Everything You Need to Know to Be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet by Jack Norris and Virginia Messina, and Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health, edited by Gene Stone.
Those are just some of the resources available for learning about vegetarian and vegan lifestyles. I hope that you will take a look at these resources and maybe be inspired to try vegetarianism for a day, week, or month. If giving up meat doesn’t seem to be a challenge, try veganism next (or anywhere in between)!
— Sara Ray, currently reading Tilt by Ellen Hopkins, browsing through Grilling Vegan Style by John Schlimm, and listening to Chomp by Carl Hiaasen