Advice, help, small gift for a friend who needs to change her diet to be a Vegan for dietary reasons.
October 1, 2008 9:49 AM   Subscribe

Advice, help, small gift for a friend who needs to change her diet to be a Vegan for dietary reasons.

A friend/co-worker/manager was just informed that for dietary reasons to avoid being medicated that she would need to change her diet to being a Vegan. I would like to offer her support, a gift of some kind and maybe some information. I started searching on the web, but was overwhelmed and out of my element. I have lived much of my life with Vegetarians, but have little experience with the details of being Vegan and what would be helpful. Also, we live in the Boston area and I presume there might be some local info out there as well. Thank you as always mefites, any help you can give me is appreciated.
posted by Carialle to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Any of the Sarah Kramer/Tanya Barnard books, How it All Vegan and In the Garden of Vegan especially. They are pretty solid cookbooks without so much of the hippie nonsense. So many of the vegan books out there are a bit too crunchy granola for some.
posted by piedmont at 9:57 AM on October 1, 2008 [2 favorites]

the Veganomicon is a great place to start.
posted by gnutron at 9:58 AM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

Cookbooks Veganomicon and/or Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World. Both are fun and don't dwell on the whole "going without" issue.

Gift basket from Pangea.
posted by darksong at 10:01 AM on October 1, 2008

Mod note: comment removed - question is about how to eat vegan not whether to eat vegan. MeMail the OP with your offtopic comments please
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:23 AM on October 1, 2008

either 1)Eat, Drink, and Be Vegan by Dreena Burton, which is a great vegan cookbook; or, 2) find the gourmet pizza joint in your town that does cheese-free pizzas well and take her out to share one
(if you can't find a good pizza joint, you might try finding a frozen Amy's cheese-free pizza at a health food store instead. heck, you could even throw some candles on top to properly celebrate her newfound vegan-ness)
posted by OlivesAndTurkishCoffee at 10:36 AM on October 1, 2008

I'm curious, what condition is it that your friend has that 'requires' them to eat vegan?
posted by ZaneJ. at 10:40 AM on October 1, 2008

Vegan cupcakes take over the world. But don't just buy her the book, buy it, make some cupcakes, then give her the book and the cupcakes together.

Being vegan can be great.
posted by rzperllian at 10:46 AM on October 1, 2008

Mod note: Metatalk. Not here.
posted by cortex (staff) at 11:27 AM on October 1, 2008

Here is what appears to be the most logical place to start. Good luck to your friend and kudos to you for wanting to help her.
posted by watercarrier at 11:36 AM on October 1, 2008

This one-time vegan recommends Veganomicon and Vegan with a Vengeance over the Barnard/Kramer books. They aren't bad, but (particularly in the second book) the recipes come from a bunch of disparate sources and can be inconsistent. I find Isa Moskowitz's recipes to be super reliable as well as tasty.
posted by clavicle at 11:42 AM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

I forgot about Vegan with a Vengeance! Loaned it out and it never came back... I won't disagree, but I've had nothing but good luck with the Barnard/Kramer books (and eventually the Kramer book(s))

Suggestion 2. Gift certificate to a vegan restaurant.
posted by piedmont at 11:45 AM on October 1, 2008

HappyCow's Boston listing will help you find a restaurant to take your friend to, and stores where she can more easily find vegan products.
posted by beerbajay at 11:51 AM on October 1, 2008

Also, one of the most supportive things you can do is just preparing vegan food for any situation where you'll be eating together so she doesn't always have to feel the responsibility of bringing her own food since everyone around her is eating meat/eggs/etc. Another thing would be to inform others who will be preparing food that there's a vegan and encourage them to provide something good (ie. not just whatever random vegetables as a salad).
posted by beerbajay at 11:57 AM on October 1, 2008

Best answer: Is your friend small or do they have a fast metabolism? Calories are going to be an issue if so - I reverted to lacto-ovo vegetarian after three years of veganism beacuse I had to eat all the damn time, and pour oil onto my food (blegh), to stop losing weight. It wasn't worth it in the end.

My best gift suggestion would be a good assortment of herbs and spices, if she doesn't have a decent collection already (I don't know if you're close enough to her to be able to check hers out), good salt and pepper mills and a mortar and pestle. If she has a decent spice collection, than an assortment of essential legumes and grains in nice jars would also be good - chickpeas, haricot beans, kidney beans, soy beans, red lentils, good puy lentils, a few different types of rice (wild, arborio), unhulled sesame seeds and some sunflower and pumpkin seeds would be a lovely gift, quite inexpensive and she can start eating healthily straight away. A big container of oil, like one of those 10 litre olive oil tins, might also be an idea!
posted by goo at 11:57 AM on October 1, 2008

Is there a Whole Foods (or a local "healthy store") nearby? They will take you through the store and show you products you can eat, give you recipe ideas, etc - it can be really helpful.

Love the idea of making the vegan cupcakes and giving them to her with the book(s).
posted by KAS at 12:39 PM on October 1, 2008

Also, great idea from beerbajay to find restaurants (since you work together, maybe somewhere you can go together for a lunch sometimes).
posted by KAS at 12:41 PM on October 1, 2008

Boston is an easy city to be vegan in. I was a vegetarian when I lived there, but knew plenty of vegans. There are Whole Foods, Trader Joe's and health food stores a plenty.

A quick Google search turned up the following:

Boston Vegan Association
Vegan Boston
Boston Vegan Meetup
Places that serve vegan food
posted by Constant Reader at 12:50 PM on October 1, 2008

Eat To Live is going to make her feel really good about becoming vegan, and make her feel that it is a very tasty and easy change to make.
It has eating plans and suggested menus to help newcomers get started, plus lots of good recipes.

It will also reassure her that making a dietary change will improve her health.
posted by Brody's chum at 1:17 PM on October 1, 2008

i like goo's suggestion of spices; does your friend enjoy cooking? if so, and there's a particular ethnic food type they're into, maybe focus on that kind of spice and a cooking utensil? i'm thinking specifically of the wok that I recently purchased, and how it's made me more interested in cooking Thai food.

my partner has gotten me spices from this place that I've really enjoyed. Their Vietnamese "cinnamon" is really amazing.

There's a pretty good vegan cookbook by Myra Kornfeld that has stuff we've made repeatedly. Recipes are inventive but not too elaborate. I think the carrot cake is particularly good; not overly sweet, and has cardamom frosting.

Apart from the gift, the best thing you can do is be supportive to your friend, especially if they're making this dietary choice out of necessity. Vegans can get a pretty hard time from people; it's not fun when every mealtime becomes an ideological battle. Just being considerate when providing food at events goes a long way.
posted by dubold at 1:45 PM on October 1, 2008

How it All Vegan has been recommended by a number of my friends.

Also, Grasshopper in Allston is 100% vegan and 100% amazing.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:44 PM on October 1, 2008 [1 favorite]

Even though I'm no longer vegan (I was for a time), I still covet some of the cute stuff at One Lucky Duck
posted by melissam at 3:35 PM on October 1, 2008

I love love LOVE The Single Vegan, a cookbook with easy, simple, delicious recipes for a vegan on-the-go. I'm not vegan, but I love it!
posted by cachondeo45 at 6:52 PM on October 1, 2008

As a non-vegan, I can recommend the recipes at Vegan Yum Yum. The tomato and cashew-cream pasta is *awesome* and easy. I love my meat, but Lolo's recipes really make me feel like I've had a special meal instead of just a few vegies. And she's from Boston too.
posted by harriet vane at 5:25 AM on October 2, 2008

I'll pipe in with one of my favorite vegan weblogs: Fat Free Vegan Kitchen and yesVegan Yum Yum is also great.

If she likes offbeat humor and good recipes (and can handle reading a few swear words), I can't recommend anyplace higher than Yeah that Vegan Shit.

The next suggestion is pure vegan porn, but oh such lovely pornified food (SFW): What the hell does a vegan eat anyway?

Veggie Meal Plans, by Cassie Young, has fantastic ideas, and anything done after March of 07 is vegan, not just vegetarian.

Also, she might want to check out the Post Punk Kitchen which has good recipes and killer forums with more good recipes.
posted by tejolote at 10:39 PM on October 6, 2008

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