With growing knowledge about the negative impact of consuming meat and dairy products on our personal health and the environment made coming across Holly White’s book Vegan-ish feel like finding the pearl in the oyster.
You may remember Holly as Becs in the hugely popular Dan and Becs. Now a successful lifestyle and food blogger, vegan and a certified plant-based nutritionist, she’s really Ireland’s answer to Deliciously Ella and certainly has the potential to be as big internationally with her first book firmly under her belt.
Although I don’t personally suffer from veganism (sorry, couldn’t resist a vegan joke!), I am always looking for ways to reduce meat and dairy intake for both myself and my family but with accessible, easy and most importantly tasty alternatives.
The book: Vegan-ish: A Gentle Introduction to a Plant-Based Diet by Holly White.
Bang for your buck? The book is beautifully produced and is bursting with recipes so there’s real bang for your buck here. It’s broken down really nicely into sections such as smoothies, breakfast, salads, lunches, mains, sides…. and more.
What is it trying to get us cooking? Honestly, there are so many recipes, and a lovely intro guiding you through approaching veganism if you are considering it.
Because of its broad range of recipes, including some fermented foods and covering the staples that might help with preparing more vegan dishes makes the book a great tool for embracing a healthier approach to eating, even if going vegan isn’t something you’d like to do exclusively.
I like to think of trying to have a few vegetarian or vegan meals every week not as a restrictive exercise but as embracing so many more interesting plant-based options which we all know are so good for us from the inside out. There is something in this book for everyone with the vast range of recipes in here.
The best recipes are… I decided that to fully get my head into the book, not just browsing through it over a coffee, I would make two of the recipes straight away. I kicked off with her Raw Chocolate Heaven smoothie. I chose this because we love smoothies in our house and I also had all the ingredients. The recipe was very straight-forward and easy to follow and felt decadent and velvety. My 9-year-old enjoyed it too, but it was a little too rich for the 5 and 2-year-old – more for me!
The second recipe I chose to make is one of her mains dishes, One-pot Ratatouille. I wanted to do a main for the whole family so that they could have a taster of a vegan creation, and I love the throwback vibes to my own childhood that a ratatouille has.
It was really delicious, full of flavour and it’s an amazing way to get in more plant varieties in one go, including aubergine which I love. I ate it as per the recipe - served with crusty bread for dipping. I really embraced it, however, I thought maybe some beans or lentils added would up the protein more and not leave me a little peckish later in the evening.
I also would have liked a guide on the recipe for prep time and cooking time, especially in a busy household where every minute counts. But these are minor points. I know my kids well enough to know they wouldn’t eat big lumps of courgette or aubergine so I blitzed some of it for them in the blender and served it over pasta which was a hit. Except they wanted parmesan which definitely put the ‘ish’ into ‘Vegan-ish’.
I think what’s great about the book is that making tweaks to the recipes and generally being flexible about your approach is encouraged, the hint is in the title! It serves as a perfect inspiration to vegans-to-be but also meat-eaters like myself who are always looking for ways to increase plants and decrease animal-based foods in our diet.
Overall impression? Going fully vegan can mean changing the contents of your kitchen cupboards considerably, so that can be a downside. However, with this book, not only does Holly guide you through that but there are some simple recipes that don’t require taking out shares in your local health food shop, as you may have all or most of the ingredients already.
I would have loved to see more photos because the ones in it are beautiful, and it can be easier to know what to expect when you’ve done a dish if there is a photo of the dish there. However, I’m guessing more recipes won out over more photos, which in this case is definitely a good call.
I’m already looking forward to her next book (and hoping she’s already doing it!) and would love to see more of those delicious mains in there. In the meantime, this makes for a beautiful gift or a lovely addition to your kitchen.
- Reviewed by Suzanne Leyden of The WellNow Company
Vegan-ish is published by Gill Books and is available in all good bookstores and is €22.99.