Why, you ask, does a non-vegetarian (me) write a huge book about vegetarian cooking?
Mostly because I saw the need for one. Partly because I wanted to experiment with “lessmeatarianism”—a way of eating that involved fewer animal products. (If I could have called this book “How to Cook Everything without Meat” I would have, because that’s more descriptive than “Vegetarian,” but it’s not exactly a title that sings.) And partly—as I came to believe in the course of writing HTCE Veg (as I call it)—because lessmeatarianism is really the way of the future. (This line of thinking eventually lead directly to Food Matters, which I write about here.)
I cannot tell you how much I learned in the course of putting Veg together, and how much I believe you would learn if you began to cook from it.
If you think, for example, that winter squash is boring, that whole grains take forever to cook (and that they’re all the same), that all beans are created equal (and take forever to cook), that you can’t be satisfied unless you eat meat, that vegetarian meals are never interesting… I assure you that cooking from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian will change your mind about all of these common misconceptions.
I wasn’t a vegetarian when I started writing Veg, and I’m not one now. But I have a far greater appreciation for the non-carnivorous world, an appreciation that doesn’t feel like a compromise but rather as if I’ve expanded my culinary universe. In the world of cooking, the available plants are more numerous and arguably more interesting than the available animals, and they’re produced and consumed at far less cost to personal health, the environment, and the economy. Every good cook owes it to her- or himself to explore this world, and to make more of it available to his or her family and friends.