Plant-based gift giving

Research shows over and over that plant-based eating is the best long-term strategy to maximize health.  But the concept of “plant-based eating” can be confusing and vague.  There really aren’t any widely accepted rules about how we define that type of diet.  People tend to think of it as vegetarian or even vegan, but that’s not true.  It’s more Mediterranean or flexitarian.

A well-written cookbook can help sort through the plant-based confusion.  So, if you need gift ideas for someone who is interested in a more plant-centric diet, there are a number of cookbooks that would make great gifts.  Here are some excellent choices:

  1. My colleague Sharon Palmer RDN is the author of two informative books on plant-based diets,  The Plant Powered Diet and Plant-Powered for Life.  The books have background information about this way of eating, as well as recipes.  A good choice for the person who may still need a bit of convincing and support to move ahead with diet changes.
  2. The Oldways 4-Week Mediterranean Diet Menu Plan is a handy little book (stocking-sized!) that gives all the basics about the plant-centric Mediterranean diet, along with recipes and meal ideas.   Oldways also has books on different traditional cuisines from around the globe, along with books on vegetarian and vegan diets.
  3. Another colleague, Gita Patel MS RD CDE has written Blending Science with Spices.  Her book is all about Indian vegetarian cooking.  Indian seasonings create some of the most delicious vegetable, legume and grain-based dishes, which makes plant-based eating more compelling.
  4. The ever-popular Moosewood Restaurant cookbooks are good choices for people who just want more meatless recipe resources.  I still have a tattered copy of the original Moosewood Cookbook, probably purchased at the actual restaurant, which is where I first tasted pesto sauce decades ago.
  5. The Vegetarian Epicure books are also classics.  When I first started cooking vegetarian food, I relied heavily on the original edition.  It’s more about vegetarian, less about the health aspects of meatless meals (lots of butter and cheese in some recipes).  But the recipes are nicely done, and you’ll find new ideas to perk up your plant-based menus.
  6.  Many members of The Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics have written cookbooks.  You’ll find a long list, including books that focus on vegan diets, pregnancy and high protein.
  7. The of course there’s my book, Feed Your Vegetarian Teen.  While it’s aimed at parents of adolescents who adopt vegan or vegetarian diets, I’ve had feedback from plenty of adults who found it helpful for their own diets.

Cookbooks featuring recipes from Japan, Southeast Asia, India, Central America and the Mediterranean region may not be described as specifically plant-based, but these cuisines have traditionally relied on plant-centric recipes, as well as recipes that use meat and fish more as a condiment.

Need more ideas for healthful gifts?  Put your cookbook gift in a basket along with a bottle of boutique olive oil, herb teas, a bag of dried fruit, a package of unsalted nuts and perhaps a bottle of sparkling mineral water or a calendar with a food theme.  If that sounds like a gift you’d like to receive, make a basket for yourself, too.

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