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Book review: Go Vegan by Marlene Watson-Tara

by Marlene Watson-Tara

I love cookery books and, although I am not a vegan, we do eat a lot of plant-based foods and I am increasingly drawn to the vegan cookbooks.

I was delighted when asked to review Go Vegan and, to be fair, was expecting to receive just another nice cookery book and new recipes to experiment with. And that would have been fine.

But oh, my goodness! Go Vegan is so much more than a nice cookery book. Even the full title, Go Vegan: A guide to delicious everyday food – for the health of your family and the planet doesn’t really do it justice.

To understand why this book is so powerful, it’s worth looking at the author’s credentials. Marlene Watson-Tara is a graduate of the T.Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies in New York, which focuses on plant-based nutrition. She has 40 years’ experience as a dedicated health counsellor and teacher.

Marlene is a long-time vegan and animal lover, and is passionate about human ecology – the study of humans and their relationships with their natural, social and built environments – and, with her husband Bill Tara, has created the Human Ecology Project

And so yes, Go Vegan is a lovely vegan cookbook, with lots of enticing recipes and tantalising pictures of finished dishes, but there is also a wealth of nutritional and environmental information throughout the book. For example, in the snippet below – and these are featured on many pages – Marlene explains that 85% of agricultural land on earth is given over to feeding and housing animals for food. A shocking statistic!

Ennvironmental snippet from Go Vegan by Marlene Watson-Tara

The book starts with a basic overview of The Ecological Kitchen with a wealth of background information, even including a list of kitchen equipment.

The book is then split into 9 recipe sections:

  • Marlene's teriyaki black bean burgers from Go VeganWhat’s for Breakfast
  • Sumptuous Soups
  • Quick Bites
  • Big Bowls
  • Global-Fusion Main Events
  • Lip-smacking Sides and Salads
  • Delish and Divine Sauces, Dressings and Dips
  • Sweet Nosh
  • Teas and Macrobiotic Home Remedies

These sections feature 84 wonderful recipes, from a Ramen Bowl with Fresh Daikon and Greens, to Carrot Cake with Lemon Frosting, with lots of vegan alternatives for favourites such as Lasagne, Paella, Shepherd’s Pie, Burgers, Mayonnaise, and Ice Cream.

Some recipes include more unusual ingredients such as sea vegetables (nori, kombu, hijiki and dulse, for example) plus a range of Japanese macrobiotic foods such as agar-agar (made from seaweed), kuzu, seitan and umeboshi paste. If you can’t find these locally, check-out Clearspring Ltd, suppliers of Japanese, Macrobiotic & Organic Fine Foods.

A chapter by Bill Tara on The Human Ecology diet is featured, with a final chapter providing a range of nutritional information about different food groups and individual items within those groups, detailed information about the Japanese ingredients used in many recipes, and a final analysis of the nutrients that provide the building blocks for human nutrition: carbohydrate, protein, fats, vitamins, minerals, and not forgetting the importance of water!

As you can see, this is no ordinary cookbook. It is a beautiful and insightful book written with passion for people, for animals, and for the future of our planet. And, of course, fantastic vegan recipes, although you don’t need to be vegan to enjoy them!

Thoroughly recommended.

Marlene has also written Mental Health and the Gut-Brain Connection and Waster Fasting: a Powerful Way to Initiate Healing, for Healthy Life Essex

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