Author: Amanda Grant
Publisher: Da Capo / Lifelong Books
Buy on Amazon.com
If you are a vegan and this is the only cookbook you own, you may not die of nutrition, but you will of boredom. The complete inverse of the inventive but overly complicated Veganize This! (link to review — http://new.readjunk.com/reviews/bookreviews/veganize-this/), Fresh and Fast Vegan lacks any skill requirement or imagination.
On the one hand, recipes are so basic, there is little chance of scaring away first-time cooks. Helpful recipe intros and clear instructions will also benefit newbies. On the other hand, you have dishes that stick to the bare minimum of creativity and effort.
The snacks and appetizers sections are rarely more inventive than slicing some vegetables and adding a couple of spices. Desserts are the same but with fruit. The main courses have a little more oomph, particularly the curries, but the recipes are predominantly bland and protein-less. These recipes may be a good starting block for non-cooks or your French-fry vegan, but most everybody else will take a very liberal approach to the ingredients, preparations, and execution. (I think I even saw a recipe that called for just adding shredded carrots to pita bread.)
The problem may be that the author isn’t vegan herself – and the vegan lifestyle forces creativity. Unlike other vegan books’ heavy reliance on meat and dairy substitutes, there is nothing here you couldn’t find at your local grocery store (forget tempeh or seitan – even tofu is ignored). Cooking vegan, though, shouldn’t be about eating a lot of vegetables and starches. Most vegans want cuisine that is on equal footing with carnivore fare in terms of taste, complexity, and variety.
Instead, what you get here are recipes reminiscent of countless Thanksgiving dinners when a well-meaning aunt, not wanting you to be left out of the turkey-and-ham carnage, would serve you a sad plate of plain spaghetti.
Bottom Line: Basic, bland recipes for beginner vegans/cooks.