Following a vegetarian diet comes with a host of health benefits. And even though you're cutting out meat, there are endless food combinations to welcome you into a world of incredible cooking.
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Vegetarian diets aren't as restrictive as some believe: While you're forgoing meat, you might enjoy cheese and yogurt (lacto-vegetarianism) or have some dairy and eggs (ovo-lacto vegetarianism).
Still, transitioning from Meatless Mondays to meatless every day can be a little daunting. That's why keeping a few vegetarian cookbooks on hand can be really helpful.
Plus, having some go-to vegetarian recipes in your arsenal can help ensure you're eating well-balanced meals. You'll learn to master dishes full of vegetables, fruit, nuts and beans — all of which can promote a healthy lifestyle.
If this is your first foray into vegetarianism, it may take some time to adjust to the diet and learn how to make the healthiest choices. But there are many reasons to stick with it: For one, pooping will be no problem, thanks to all the fiber you'll be eating, and you'll probably have fewer sugar cravings because you'll be filling up on nutrient-dense foods that keep your blood sugar in check.
So without further ado, here are some of the best vegetarian cookbooks to help you navigate breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and everything in between.
1. Best Vegetarian Cookbook for Beginners
The Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health: More Than 200 New Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes for Delicious and Nutrient-Rich Dishes
Based in Ithaca, New York, the Moosewood Restaurant has been running its natural foods kitchen since 1973. Known for its delicious plant-based cuisine, the Moosewood Collective has published 14 cookbooks and is considered a pioneer in the world of vegetarian cooking.
What makes this cookbook particularly great for those new to vegetarian cuisine is that it introduces a variety of vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds and fruits with flavors and dishes that are already familiar to you, like pasta with eggplant, ricotta and walnuts, tempeh bourguignon, green beans with ginger and garlic and even sweet potato pie with pecan-oat crust.
With an emphasis on organic, local produce, you'll learn how to eat seasonally, too, helping you save a few dollars at the grocery store.
"Dozens of books have been written by the Moosewood Restaurant folks, but this is one of my favorites," says Abbie Gellman, RD, a New York City-based chef and registered dietitian. "Chock-full of delicious, simple recipes, this vegetarian cookbook has hundreds of recipes and meal options year-round."
So even if you can't make it to the restaurant yourself, this cookbook will make you feel like you're truly sitting at one of their tables.
Buy it: Amazon; Price: $17.69
More Great Options for Beginners
- How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food by Mark Bittman ($23.20, Amazon)
- In My Kitchen: A Collection of New and Favorite Vegetarian Recipes by Deborah Madison ($21.56, Amazon)
- Eating Vegetarian: A Healthy Cookbook for Beginners by Alissa Bilden Warham ($15.44, Amazon)
2. The Best Vegetarian Cookbooks for Everyday Cooking
Super Natural Every Day: Well-Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen
You might be familiar with Heidi Swanson's timeless food blog 101 Cookbooks, where she shares vibrant dishes that celebrate seasonal produce and ingredients from different cuisines in her California kitchen.
In this cookbook, the James Beard-winning author opens up her home to readers with 100 homecooked vegetarian dishes that provide comfort and nutrition. Swanson shows us just how approachable and accessible vegetarian living really is with simple ingredients and cooking techniques. She even walks you through her favorite kitchen appliances.
"Her recipes are diverse and nutrient-dense and have beautiful photos to accompany them," Gellman says.
From homemade granola and multi-grain pancakes for breakfast to filling soups, salads and pasta dishes for lunch and dinner, you'll want to fill your plate with vegetarian fare every day — and take an Instagram-worthy pic of it, too.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $15.68
More Great Options for Everyday Cooking
- Love Real Food: More Than 100 Feel-Good Vegetarian Favorites to Delight the Senses and Nourish the Body by Kathryne Taylor ($16.69, Amazon)
- The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook: A Fresh Guide to Eating Well With 700 Foolproof Recipes by America's Test Kitchen ($18.95, Amazon)
- Vegetarian Mediterranean Cookbook: 125+ Simple, Healthy Recipes for Living Well by Sanaa Abourezk ($13.42, Amazon)
3. The Best Vegetarian Cookbook for International Cooking
Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian: More Than 650 Meatless Recipes from Around the World
Author Madhur Jaffrey takes you through an international feast in this James Beard-winning cookbook with recipes inspired by her travels to Asia, the Middle East, the Caribbean, Europe and beyond.
Vegetarians and meat-eaters will both appreciate her extensive guide to healthy cooking techniques and plant-based ingredients, as well as her tips for food prep and storage. In this bountiful book, Madhur also delivers personal nuggets from her food adventures, so readers can have a better understanding of her recipes' roots.
Whether you're a seasoned chef or a beginner, you'll love the journey this cookbook takes you through. Don't be surprised if you get the urge to book your next trip immediately.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $26.84
More Great Options for International Cooking
- Fresh from Poland: New Vegetarian Cooking from the Old Country by Michal Korkosz ($19.95, Amazon)
- Fresh India: 130 Quick, Easy, and Delicious Vegetarian Recipes for Every Day by Meera Sodha ($21.04, Amazon)
- Vegetarian Chinese Soul Food: Deliciously Doable Ways to Cook Greens, Tofu, and Other Plant-Based Ingredients by Hsiao-Ching Chou ($23.99, Amazon)
4. Best Vegetarian Cookbook for Comfort Foods
Fresh Italian Cooking for the New Generation: 100 Full-Flavored Vegetarian Dishes That Prove You Can Stay Slim While Eating Pasta and Bread
There's nothing more comforting than a bowl of pasta, and this cookbook from dietitian Alexandra Casparo Lenz, RD, proves you can enjoy the comforts of Italian food without busting any diet goals. And no, you don't have to give up pasta for chickpea noodles.
"For vegan and vegetarian Italian recipes, I recommend this cookbook because it's filled with so many flavorful pasta recipes and there are also plant-based versions of Mediterranean-inspired basics like cashew cream, protein-packed pesto and tofu ricotta," says Stephanie McKercher, RDN, registered dietitian, plant-based food blogger and author of The College Vegetarian Cookbook.
You'll not only find vegetarian versions of classics, like lentil bolognese, portobello carbonara and pumpkin fettuccine alfredo, but you'll also want to dog-ear recipes for homemade pasta, soups and stews and antipasti.
"One of my favorite dishes is the Easy Brussels Sprouts Penne. It's vegetarian comfort food at its finest," McKercher says.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $26.90
More Great Options for Comfort Foods
- Family: New Vegetarian Comfort Food to Nourish Every Day by Hetty McKinnon ($25.49, Amazon)
- The Simply Vegetarian Cookbook: Fuss-Free Recipes Everyone Will Love by Susan Pridmore ($14.67, Amazon)
- The Vegetarian Family Cookbook: 100 Simple Kid-Friendly Recipes to Enjoy by Kristen Wood ($13.88, Amazon)
5. Best Vegetarian Cookbook for Quick Weeknight Dishes
Deliciously Ella Making Plant-Based Quick and Easy: 10-Minute Recipes, 20-Minute Recipes, Big Batch Cooking
Ella Mills, the creator behind the wildly popular Deliciously Ella food blog, released her sixth cookbook in the summer of 2020, and just like her others, it's ideal for vegetarian cooking.
In her new book, Mills dives into batch cooking with 10- and 20-minute recipes. No one has time and energy to cook a gourmet meal every night, and her recipes recognize that without sacrificing flavor. The book is divided into seven sections, including breakfast, lunches, dips and dressings, big-batch cooking, sweets and weekend recipes that cater to larger crowds (when we're all able to gather again).
Fit for any palate, this cookbook features recipes that touch on every craving. There's a mocha and peanut butter smoothie, turmeric and zucchini pancakes, spicy fajita bowls, peanut and sesame veggie noodles and so much more.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $19.96
More Great Options for Quick Weeknight Dishes
- The 30-Minute Vegetarian Cookbook: 100 Healthy, Delicious Meals for Busy People by Lisa Turner ($15.29, Amazon)
- One-Pot Vegetarian: Easy Veggie Meals in Just One Pot by Sabrina Fauda-Role ($16.39, Amazon)
- Instant Pot Vegetarian Cookbook: Fast and Healthy Recipes for Your Favorite Electric Pressure Cooker by Srividhya Gopalakrishnan ($11.49, Amazon)
6. Best Vegetarian Cookbook for Budget-Friendly Meals
The College Vegetarian Cookbook
Don't let "college" make you think that this cookbook is geared just for the vegetarian coeds. It's a great resource for anyone looking to budget while following a plant-based diet.
Filled with 150 budget-friendly and delicious recipes, you'll learn how to transform vegetarian staples, like legumes, whole grains, vegetables and nuts, into comforting, wholesome meals. The book also comes with helpful shopping lists, meal storage tips, cooking techniques and a breakdown of pantry essentials.
"Most of the recipes in this book require less than 10 ingredients and an hour of time to prep and cook. There are so many classic college meals with plant-based twists, including buffalo tofu sandwiches, vegan queso and crispy eggplant BLTs," McKercher says. Yum.
Buy it: Amazon.com; Price: $14.92
More Great Options for Budget-Friendly Cooking
- Taste of Home Vegetarian Made Easy: Going Meatless in a Meat Loving Family by Taste of Home ($14.38, Amazon)
- The Complete Plant-Based Cookbook: 500 Inspired, Flexible Recipes for Eating Well Without Meat by America's Test Kitchen ($22.99, Amazon)
- One Pan, Two Plates: Vegetarian Suppers: More Than 70 Weeknight Meals for Two by Carla Snyder ($13.79, Amazon)