9 Vegetarian Cookbooks To Make Meal Time More Tasty and Colorful

Veggies are too often thought of as a side dish, the supporting role to a meaty entree. Long-time vegetarians know, however, that veggies can do far more than just add a little color to a plate. When it’s time to make a meal, veggies, fruits, grains, and all other non-meat foods can easily put on the whole damn show, and make it a delicious one, too.

If you’re newly vegetarian and grew up on a meat-centric diet, it can be easy to feel uninspired about what to cook, but there are so many possibilities (aside from just salads) out there. To prove this point, we browsed customer reviews and tapped one of our editors, who’s a six-year-veteran vegetarian, for recommendations on the best vegetarian cookbooks. Whether you’re a full-time vegetarian or you’re just trying it out, the drool-worthy cookbooks below will make breakfast, lunch, and dinner a lot more colorful and tasty. 

Photo credit: Courtesy of Flatiron Books

How Not to Die by Michael Greger, M.D., FACLM

In the New York Times bestselling book by the same name, author and physician Michael Greger, M.D., FACLM unpacks the scientific evidence behind how plant-based diets can prevent and reverse many of the causes of premature death and disability. This followup cookbook provides tasty recipes, like Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca and Two-Berry Pie with Pecan-Sunflower Crust, that double as solutions to a healthier, longer life. Upon discovering that the How Not to Die author made a cookbook, our resident vegetarian editor Pia Velasco, said she “ran to get it” and hasn’t been disappointed since. “There are so many easy-to-make meals and they’re all so good,” she said.

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Vegetarian India: A Journey Through the Best of Indian Home Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey

You never have to worry about eating bland veggies again. Vegetarian meals make up a large part of Indian cuisine and author Madhur Jaffrey, who has been called the “godmother of Indian cooking” will walk you through the flavorful recipes along with personal touches from some of her own travels throughout the continent. One reviewer of the cookbook wrote, “I’m brown and I love it,” commending the simple and flavorful recipes. Another reviewer, a mother of a “school-aged family,” wrote, “I’ve made dish after dish from this cookbook and found them to be easy, flavorful, light and manageable for a weeknight.” The reviewer also highlighted some recipe favorites, like the Delhi-Style Green Beans with Ginger and Green Chilis, Roasted Cauliflower with Punjabi Seasonings, and the Red Lentil and Zucchini Soup.

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Plant Over Processed: 75 Simple & Delicious Plant-Based Recipes for Nourishing Your Body and Eating From the Earth by Andrea Hannemann

Hawaii-based author Andrea Hannemann, aka Earthy Andy via Instagram, switched to a plant-based diet after dealing with a host of health issues like IBS, Celiac disease, hypothyroidism, asthma, brain fog, and chronic fatigue. On her journey to better health, she developed fruit-and-veggie packed recipes like the Rainbow Thai Crunch Salad and a Teriyaki Poke Bowl. The cookbook is full of bright and colorful recipes that will look and taste like a tropical vacation without requiring much time in the kitchen. “Literally everything is so easy to make and so delicious,” Velasco said. (She added that she loves this cookbook so much, she even got her roommate hooked on it.) 

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Eat Clean, Play Dirty: Recipes for a Body and Life You Love by the Founders of Sakara Life by Danielle Duboise and Whitney Tingle

Danielle Duboise and Whitney Tingle—founders of the popular organic nutritional program, Sakara Life—created this nutrition science-backed book to share recipes that aren’t just healthy, but fun, too. With the goal of food that “makes you feel sexy” in mind, the authors developed creative recipes like Orgasmic Coconut Yogurt, the Eat-the-Rainbow Wrap, and Roasted Cauliflower and Steak Sandwiches.

“These recipes are a little more elevated but make me feel like the bougie, healthy lady Gwyneth [Paltrow] would invite to the Hamptons,” Velasco said. She’s not wrong—Paltrow is one of several celebrity fans of this cookbook, right along with Oprah and Jessica Alba.

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Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice, and Soul : A Cookbook by Jenné Claiborne

Atlanta native, author Jenné Claiborne, took the soul food recipes she grew up on and turned them into vegan alternatives so good that you won’t even notice anything’s missing. Just look to the reviews for confirmation. “I made the Cheddar & Chives Biscuits, Sunflower Caesar Salad, and Jackfruit Jambalaya for my NON-VEGAN family and they LOVED it!” one Amazon shopper raved. Claiborne weaves historical context throughout, giving background to the innate nutritional benefits of soul food staples and how the decadent recipes can be both comforting and healthy. 

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La Vida Verde: Plant-Based Mexican Cooking with Authentic Flavor by Jocelyn Ramirez

You don’t have to give up your taco cravings just because you gave up meat. In La Vida Verde, author Jocelyn Ramirez swaps meat for plant-based alternatives in classic Mexican dishes, and does so without compromising on flavor or spice. Claiborne, author of Sweet Potato Soul above, even gave her own review of the Mexican cookbook via The Strategist. “I love how easy and approachable the recipes are, like cóctel de champiñón (mushroom cocktail), tacos de yaca al pastor (jackfruit al pastor tacos), and capirotada de xocolate (chocolate bread pudding).

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The Vegan 8: 100 Simple, Delicious Recipes Made with 8 Ingredients or Less by Brandi Doming

This cookbook, written by popular blogger Brandi Doming, is proof that making tasty plant-based meals doesn’t have to be a huge production. “The reason I love [this cookbook] is in the name—you only need eight ingredients or less to make every meal,” Velasco said. “They’re SO GOOD and so easy. Whenever I’m lazy I turn to this.” However, just because the meals are simple doesn’t mean they’re boring. Just see if you can make it through this list of recipes without your mouth starting to water: Cajun Veggie and Potato Chowder, Fool ’Em “Cream Cheese” Spinach-Artichoke Dip, No-Bake Chocolate Espresso Fudge Cake. Yeah, we didn’t think so.

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The Yoga Kitchen: Over 100 Vegetarian Recipes to Energize the Body, Balance the Mind & Make for a Happier You by Kimberly Parsons

Velasco, who happens to be a yoga instructor, is also a big fan of this unique cookbook, highlighting how the recipes are broken up in seven chakra-based chapters: Ground, Flow, Soul Nurture, Strengthen, Vitalize, and Core. Like yoga, the recipes are designed to nourish both the body and mind, through the use of all natural, gluten-free, and refined sugar-free ingredients. The cookbook, by naturopath and chef Kimberly Parsons, features recipes like Green Quinoa Burgers, Sweet Potato Scones, Chocolate and Maca Quinoa Pops, and Juice Pulp Burgers with Portobello Mushroom Buns.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Penguin Random House

Love and Lemons Every Day: More than 100 Bright, Plant-Forward Recipes for Every Meal: A Cookbook

This cookbook will inspire you to reimagine the way you think about vegetables. Author Jeanine Donofrio turns simple produce into innovative dishes, like rice burrito filling made from broccoli and chocolate frosting made from sweet potatoes. With recipes like these on hand, you’ll never think of a vegetarian diet as limiting again. Don’t take our word for it, though. There hundreds of five-star reviews will tell you everything you need to know. “I’m not vegetarian, but I absolutely adore Jeanine’s recipes,” one reviewer wrote. “She has a way of making vegetables taste so delicious! Even vegetables I thought I hated (mushrooms!) somehow taste amazing… omg the mushroom white bean pot pie recipe is EVERYTHING!”