Book review


Simple Recipes for Joy

Simple Recipes for Joy: More than 200 Delicious Vegan Recipes
By Sharon Gannon
Penguin, 336 pages, $46, ISBN 978-1-583-33559-8

Anyone looking for plant-based culinary inspiration won’t do much better than Simple Recipes for Joy.
It’s written by Sharon Gannon, who, in 2006 with David Life, opened New York City’s Jivamukti Yoga School, and with it, the Jivamuktea Café, an all-vegan, organic, “cruelty-free” restaurant. She explains in the book’s introduction that she learned long ago if she wanted to find enlightenment, cooking was the first step.
She’s assembled here a colourful collection of recipes she’s amassed over the years that prove just how satisfying, delicious, nutritious, and fun vegan food can be.
For proof of the fun factor, look no further than her Popcorn Salad. Tossed with nutritional yeast flakes, red pepper flakes, flaxseed oil, and iceberg or romaine lettuce, along with tomato and scallion, every movie buff’s favourite snack is the star ingredient.
While Gannon clearly has an inclination for whimsy—take the image of the Mad Hatter-style tea party on the book’s cover—she is an extremely serious animal rights advocate. She became vegan in 1982 and preaches the view that animals do not exist to be used by human beings. It’s a subject she discusses at great length and with great passion in her new book.
“A vegan is an abolitionist who abhors slavery,” Gannon writes. “Most humans believe that slavery and concentration camps are a shameful thing of the past. But the fact is that billions of animal beings are cruelly confined in today’s concentration camps: the modern industrial factory farms … A person who eats enslaved animals is not only condoning slavery but sustaining it as the foundation of our global economy.”
“When your grandchildren or great-grandchildren ask you what you were doing during the war on Mother Earth, when billions of animals were enslaved, tortured, and exploited as part of the animal holocaust and mass genocide,” she later writes, “have you considered what you will tell them?”
Readers may embrace Gannon’s dogma or find it off-putting. Regardless, there’s no denying that Simple Recipes for Joy is a tremendous resource for any cook seeking ideas for flavourful dishes made entirely of plant-based ingredients.
Among the standouts are the Faux Beef Noodle Soup made with shiitake mushrooms and hijiki seaweed; Sharon’s Amazing Chocolate Mousse, which contains tofu, maple syrup, coconut milk, and raw cacao powder; and Jivamuktea Café’s signature item, Spirulina Millet, a nutrient-dense number that can be served as a side dish or spread on toast.
There are recipes for colourful smoothies, and food photos throughout are just as appealing.
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