Illustration by Hawnuh Lee.
Whenever I’m feeling uninspired in the kitchen, I like to flip open a cookbook. There is something about the fixed information bound within physical pages that sparks my enthusiasm more than the vastness of the internet—each recipe having been chosen with acute intention, lovingly curated to represent its author.
We’ve rounded up 10 of our favorite cookbooks written by BIPOC chefs and plant lovers for the next time you’re seeking inspiration. Snag one (or two or five) from your local indie bookstore or library, and let us know what you create!
Sweet Potato Soul: 100 Easy Vegan Recipes for the Southern Flavors of Smoke, Sugar, Spice, and Soul by Jenne Claiborne
Jenne Claiborne is a trailblazer in the world of food blogging. I frequented her site, Sweet Potato Soul, during my college years as a baby plant-based eating enthusiast eager to expand my vegan repertoire, and her prolific blog has only grown since then—as has her reputation as the queen of plant-based Soul Food. Her cookbook of the same name is filled with colorful and comforting recipes inspired by Southern cooking, cozy and nourishing for food lovers of all stripes.
Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes by Bryant Terry
James Beard Award-Winning chef, educator, and author, Bryant Terry’s approach to plant-based cooking goes beyond delicious recipes. He uses food as a catalyst for positive change, whether he’s advocating for sustainable agriculture or making African Diasporic cuisine accessible to more home cooks. Simple, whole-food ingredients take the spotlight in Bryant’s fifth cookbook, each recipe more flavorful and satisfying than the last. I particularly love the way the book is organized by vegetable type, so I know just where to turn once I’ve brought home my market haul.
Plum: Gratifying Vegan Dishes from Seattle’s Plum Bistro by Makini Howell
I visited Seattle for the first time last year, and though I’d researched a number of restaurants that looked good and vegan-friendly before arriving, I wound up returning to Plum Bistro and its fast-casual sister Plum Chopped almost every day of the trip. Every dish Chef Makini Howell serves is superbly fresh and inventive (I still dream about the smoky vegan mac and cheese), so naturally her cookbook delivers.
The Plantiful Plate: Vegan Recipes from the Yommme Kitchen, by Christine Wong
Christine Wong is a longtime CLC fave and endless source of dumpling inspiration. Her cookbook offers tools to shop for, prepare, and adapt an endless variety of vegan and gluten-free dishes based on your individual taste, dietary constraints, and what is accessible in your region and pantry. An outspoken zero-waste advocate, Christine makes minimizing plastic waste straightforward and attainable whether you’re a full-fledged #plasticfreefoodie or just beginning your low-waste kitchen journey.
The Homemade Vegan Pantry: The Art of Making Your Own Staples, by Miyoko Schinner
How many times have you heard, ‘I would be vegan, but I can’t give up cheese’? Well, Miyoko Schinner has solved this dilemma. Miyoko’s line of plant-based cheeses and spreads are creamy, savory, umami-rich perfection. Your cow’s milk products could never. The recipes in her latest cookbook will satisfy any omnivore’s cravings with simple techniques and whole-food ingredients.
Vegan Richa’s Everyday Kitchen: Epic Anytime Recipes with a World of Flavor, by Richa Hingle
Award-winning recipe developer and photographer Richa Hingle started her blog in 2009, and has since grown an immense archive of delicious, user-friendly recipes. Seriously, any plant-based dish you can dream up, Richa’s got it. If you’re looking for a more guided approach, I recommend picking up her cookbook. Chapters organized by category make it easy to come up with creative, flavorful meal combinations, and encourage mixing and matching to your taste.
Hot for Food Vegan Comfort Classics: 101 Recipes to Feed Your Face by Lauren Toyota
Lauren Toyota is known for her mouthwatering recipes lauded equally by fried food lovers and those inclined towards lighter fare. Her playful take on vegan comfort food will have you reaching for the nearest spatula. I suggest showing this cookbook to anyone who thinks plant-based food can’t be fun, nostalgic, and indulgent. And don’t miss out on Lauren’s weekly YouTube videos for top-notch cooking advice and an all-around good time.
Rachel Ama’s Vegan Eats: Tasty Plant-Based Recipes for Every Day, by Rachel Ama
I only recently discovered London-based vegan blogger and recipe developer Rachel Ama, and boy have I been missing out. Her cookbook takes a straightforward approach to plant-based cooking and baking, with inspiration from the flavors of her Caribbean and West African roots. Her joyful and charismatic energy leaps off every page. And perhaps my favorite part—she’s included a song pairing with each recipe so your vibes can match your veg!
What to Eat for How You Feel: The New Ayurvedic Kitchen, by Divya Alter
Divya Alter is the owner of another restaurant I would fly across the country to dine at—Divya’s Kitchen in NYC. An Ayurvedic chef and educator, Divya brings together her deep knowledge of Ayurveda (an ancient holistic healing system developed in India) and her love of vegetarian food to craft meals that are as nourishing as they are delectable. Her book covers everything from eating in alignment with the seasons to the healing properties of spices and herbs. It’s a true celebration of feel-good food.
Living Lively: 80 Plant-Based Recipes to Activate Your Power and Feed Your Potential by Haile Thomas
Okay, this book has technically not been published at the time of writing, but I am so in awe of (19 y/o!) activist Haile Thomas and her work that I am confidently promoting it nonetheless. Haile is the founder of HAPPY, a nonprofit organization that promotes youth empowerment through holistic education, and works to make plant-based nutrition and wellness education accessible to at-risk communities. Her book is grounded in the belief that caring for our communities requires caring for ourselves, and is full of vibrant plant-based recipes to help us do just that.
Who’s on your plant-based cookbook radar?? Drop us a comment below! #closedloopcooking