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Vegetarian Diet*

Worst Vegetarian Book EVER

I have been a vegetarian for some years now, so I’m always happy to pick up another book about vegetarianism or vegetarian diets. So I was looking forward to this book when I saw it at my favorite book review site. But, oh my gosh! I have never seen such a mediocre book on so many counts that I feel like I do not know where to start.

When I looked closer at the cover when I opened the book, I could tell that there was definitely something a little off by just the formatting and word choice on the cover. The inside of the book was definitely worse. The book appears to be written by someone for whom English is not their first language and has clearly not been either professionally edited or vetted by a native English speaker. Here’s an example, where the vegan diet is defined: “Vеgаn: A vegan dіеt is nоt eating any foods оr drіnkѕ frоm an аnіmаl оrіgіn.” One paragraph seemed like it would lead directly to a description of the types of vegetarian diets, but the next paragraph was on a completely different topic.

There are so many errors with grammar, punctuation, and usage that I don’t think a single sentence was right. That might be overstating it, but it’s close. Terminal punctuation was left off. Capitalization was random. Words that should have been singular were plural and vice versa. There is no consistency with capitalization, or say, the use of hyphens with concepts like lacto-ovo vegetarianism. Getting past the grammar and punctuation issues, the writing itself seemed like banal generalities that one could pick up from any number of websites for free. The author definitely seems to harp on the concept of proteins and minerals, which just seems odd for someone who claims to be a vegetarian. Any vegetarian knows that there is no issue whatsoever getting vital nutrients like those just mentioned if you eat a balanced diet.

If I thought the part before the nine included “vegetarian cookbook recipes” (as stated on the cover) was a joke, the recipes actually had me laughing out loud at how bad they were. Most were very simple, but some measurements weren’t completely given. For instance, in the first recipe, the author states that you should use a half tin of diced tomatoes, not mentioning the size of the tin; the photo of the soup appeared to show ingredients that weren’t in the dish; this “soup” only uses three TEASPOONS of broth!

The recipes and photos only went downhill from there. The next recipe was a two-ingredient mango smoothie recipe (mango and soy milk), but the picture showed a green smoothie! The recipe photo after that clearly looks like a quiche of some kind, but the recipe was for a mini bread pizza; the photo had sliced tomatoes, not diced, and there was no green vegetable in the ingredient list though one was clearly in the quiche. A recipe simply entitled Chips/Wedges was made from potatoes, but the picture showed either homemade pita chips or tortilla chips! The wrap recipe does not look like a wrap but an open-faced taco that doesn’t appear to have many of the ingredients that are listed in the recipe. The pinwheel recipe is a rather disgusting combination, at least to my palate, of a vegetarian hot dog and pineapple; in the picture, you couldn’t see any hot dog (which might be a blessing). The lentil burger photo looked surprisingly meaty and was dripping with egg plus had an avocado slice, neither of which were listed in the ingredients; however, it did not show tomato slices, beet slices, or alfalfa sprouts that definitely were in the ingredients. A “chili” recipe with lots of avocado on top of very soupy beans had no avocado in the recipe; the author suggests adding more stock to the “soup” if you like it brothy; chili shouldn’t be brothy or soupy—it should be thick and hearty; honestly, this recipe photo just looked like a black bean side dish and not a chili at all. A salad that was supposed to be spinach and tofu with some carrots looks more like a potato salad with some other green that I can’t identify, but it certainly doesn’t look like raw baby spinach. Oh, and no orangy threads of carrot, either.

In looking at the directions of the recipes themselves, there are several issues. The ingredient list is not in the same order as used in the directions. Most directions are quite imprecise. For instance, in one of the descriptions of oven temperature, the author just says “high” and then in parentheses mentions a Celsius temperature but not a Fahrenheit one. Other “parentheticals” in recipes were vital information as well. In the Chip/Wedge recipe, the first instruction is to chop the potatoes. To get a real chip or wedge, you wouldn’t chop; you would slice. The wrap recipe had you pouring mayonnaise over the other ingredients; mayonnaise does not pour!

Frankly I am appalled that anybody thought that this book should be written or published like this. It is terrible. There are so many wonderful true vegetarian and vegan authors out there. Skip this book and seek out better options. I recommend Robin Robertson, Crescent Dragonwagon, Heidi Swanson, Deborah Madison, Christina Pirello, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Joanne Stepaniak, and The Happy Herbivore, Lindsay Nixon.

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