People go vegan for various reasons, but health, animal welfare, and sustainability tend to be the three pillars of the lifestyle. Many non-profits and documentaries aim for the ethical arguments, and there has been a surge in cookbooks promoting the diet for its weight loss, athletic performance, and overall health benefits. However, the third pillar of environmental stewardship and food sustainability is just beginning to strike a chord with the masses and gain momentum. Matthew Prescott, an expert and thought-leader on food reform, explores the relationship between food and sustainability in his new vegan cookbook, “Food is the Solution: What to Eat to Save the World.”
Prescott’s first cookbook is unlike any other mainstream recipe book on the market. Part textbook, part recipe collection, the book explains the impact of what we eat and how it affects us on a global scale, including the environmental and socio-economical repercussions. Prescott makes a case for the vegan diet through the sustainability lens, and this claim is supported by research, short narratives from fellow experts and celebrities, and of course, stunning recipes.
The book begins with a forward by James Cameron, the Academy-Award-winning director of “Titanic” and the executive producer behind the groundbreaking new vegan documentary, “The Game Changers.” This insightful excerpt is followed with narratives from renowned leaders and celebrities such as Paul McCartney, Jesse Eisenberg, Dr. Michael Greger, and more. Further, the entire text is punctuated with endorsements by more than 60 leading authorities and public figures. Readers will find inspiration through the plant-positive quotes of Barack Obama, Alice Waters, Ellen DeGeneres, José Andrés, Bruce Friedrich, Al Gore, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and others.
In Part One, “Our Planet,” Prescott outlines the environmental issues in four mini-chapters – Earth, Water, Air, and Fire. Each takes a deep dive into how these environments have evolved through food industrialization, and the issues we face as a society today. Prescott packs a solid amount of information in each chapter, but he follows these segments with easy-to-digest cliff notes. Memorize these facts, and you’ll be able to counter any skeptic on the spot.
Part Two, “Our Plates,” is where the recipes come in. Prescott developed over 80 recipes “for a greener and healthier you,” all based on foods that are both sustainable and relatively health-promoting. However, this is not a diet book. Don’t expect pages of salads, smoothies, and overnight oats; Prescott proves that one can enjoy rich, complex dishes while still adhering to a sustainable, healthy, and vegan diet. Flipping through the gorgeous food photography, readers will find everything from American comfort classics to more unique international dishes. Pancakes, seaweed salad, steamed buns, noodle kugel, gumbo, and smokey maple-pecan cheesecake…it can be difficult to decide what to make first.
Despite the flavor complexity, a majority of the recipes are simple to make and do not require special equipment or advance preparation. Further, the servings are ideal for the single home cook or couple, as the recipes make enough for two to four people. This prevents food waste. As any single person knows, leftovers that go into the freezer often turn up six months later, indistinguishable with freezer burn.
“Food is the Solution” is a solid new cookbook with a unique approach to the vegan diet and the sustainable lifestyle. Its well-researched facts and approachable recipes will make this book a new weeknight staple in your culinary arsenal. Whether you’re looking to try more plant-based foods, eat healthier, or do better for the environment, it’s clear that food is the solution.
Image Credit: Matthew Prescott