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Vegan Crash Course

Deciding to eat a vegan diet is a lifestyle change that many people struggle with. It is often perceived to be “inconvenient” or somehow “unsatisfying,” and it does not need to be. Arguably, it is far more inconvenient for the animals, the planet, and your health than it is for you to make some lifestyle adjustments.

While the negative health aspects and animal cruelty arguments don’t give everyone pause, many people are rallying behind veganism because of their newfound understanding of the environmental impact that the factory farming of animals has on our environment. Factory farming accounts for 37% of methane emissions, which has more than 20 times the global warming potential of carbon dioxide (CO2).

When you consider the millions of acres of deforestation that is happening to make room for more cattle to graze, and the fact that industrial agriculture sucks up 70% of all freshwater on the planet, it quickly becomes obvious that we all need to do our part to reduce the negative impact our lifestyles have on this planet.Now, there’s no “correct” way to eat a vegan diet. You don’t have to exclusively eat super-healthy foods. Vegan junk food is a thing, folks. Just google it! You’ll be shocked by all of the products you love that are “accidentally vegan”. My personal favorites include: Oreos, Sour Patch Kids, and Doritos’ Spicy Sweet Chili flavor.

Going vegan is a process. You’re probably not going to–forgive the expression–go cold turkey on consuming animal products. But you can begin to make different choices. You can choose a veggie option at a restaurant. You can explore the many varieties of vegetable-based burger products. You can even *gasp* try vegan cheese options. Pro tip: try Cito’s Cashew Queso. You can buy it at our local farmers market, and at the Merc. It’s all of that melty tasty deliciousness you crave with none of the stomach pain.

There are three tips that I personally find to be essential if you’re going to be vegan:

  1. Buy a stovetop steamer. Pro tip: steam veggies for 5-7 minutes, then roast them at 420 degrees for 10-15 minutes for a perfectly roasted veggie that doesn’t lose its moisture.
  2. Find sauces & spices that you love. They’re going to making cooking and eating vegetables infinitely more fun.
  3. Get comfortable in the kitchen! There are a million recipes that are simple, require limited ingredients, and don’t take more than an hour from start to finish. Experiment!

We happen to have a plethora of vegan cookbooks here at LPL. Some, like Veganomicon, tend to have holds lists a mile long. Here are nine vegan cookbooks that I pulled off the shelf not 20 minutes ago–and this is just the tip of the iceberg!


You Won’t Believe It’s Vegan! 200 Recipes for Simple and Delicious Animal-Free Cuisine

Vegan Family Favorites

Pure Vegan: 70 Recipes for Beautiful Meals and Clean Living

Vegan Soul Kitchen: Fresh, Healthy, and Creative African-American Cuisine

Quick and Easy Low-Cal Vegan Comfort Food: 150 Down-Home Recipes Packed with Flavor, not Calories

500 Vegan Recipes: An Amazing Variety of Delicious Recipes, From Chilis and Casseroles to Crumbles, Crisps, and Cookies

The Inspired Vegan: Seasonal Ingredients, Creative Recipes, Mouthwatering Menus

Whole Grain Vegan Baking: More Than 100 Tasty Recipes for Plant-based Treats Made Even Healthier : From Wholesome Cookies and Cupcakes to Breads, Biscuits, and More

Sticky Fingers’ Sweets: 100 Super-secret Vegan Recipes

When you search “vegan cookbooks” in our catalog, there are 154 items that we hold in our collection for you to browse through. Even without the massive amount of resources available online, we have enough recipes to keep you exploring for years! Have fun, be experimental, and know that every time you choose to eat a vegan meal, you are directly contributing to the health and wellness of our entire planet.

-Logan Isaman is the Community Assessment Coordinator at Lawrence Public Library.

 cover image via flickr



  1. JoAnn Farb says:


    I just stumbled upon your post, “Vegan Crash Course” and I had to pinch myself to make sure that I wasn’t dreaming…

    Thank you SO MUCH for bringing this issue to the community’s attention on the library’s website!! My husband and I became vegan 26 years ago, as the result of my working in the pharmaceutical industry, and learning how our food choices were driving horrific injustice. Now we feel like we are aging more slowly as a result of our vegan diet and being vegan has given our lives more meaning and connected us to many extraordinary people all over the planet! Our children (now grown) are grateful we raised them vegan, and we all believe that being vegan today, is the single most important thing any of us can do, to create a more just and sustainable world.

    I am happy to help others in any way that I can learn how and why to be vegan.

    Thank you again for bringing this issue to light in Lawrence.

    JoAnn Farb

  2. Ellen Jones says:

    Hope you’ll consider adding “Eat Vegan on $4 a Day” to your list. One of the earliest reviews said every college student ought to own it, considering the foods can be found anywhere. :)

  3. What a useful service to make it easy for your patrons to eat colorfully and kindly! Too many people think you have to spend your life in a kitchen to make tasty vegan dishes. Au contraire. With just a handful of staples, such as Vegenaise, veggie broth, a good mustard, and tomato sauce, you can create creamy delicious meals in minutes. I can’t wait to check out Cito’s Cashew Queso. Thanks.

  4. Check out my new list on the library’s website: Essential Vegan Reading:

    As veganism grows, its extraordinary history is unknown by newer vegans. You’ll be amazed and inspired to learn about these extraordinary people who paved the way for what is soon to become THE social justice movement of our time.

  5. Patti Breitman says:

    Wonderful resource!
    Please consider adding the book I co-authored with Carol J. Adams: How to Eat Like a Vegetarian Even If you Never Want to Be One. It includes lists of ideas for easy vegan meals and snacks and very easy and delicious recipes. If the library doesn’t carry it, I’ll be glad to donate a copy.

  6. Matthew Sikora says:

    Hi! Thank you for the great selection! I recommend adding “Eat Like You Care” and “Animals As Persons”

    Thank you!

  7. markgil says:

    what a great idea-hope other library’s do somethign similar too. i would very highly recommend adding the following excellent books about the philosophical and ecological aspects of veganism:

    The World Peace Diet by Will Tuttle

    This is Hope-Green Vegans by Will Anderson.

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