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Animal-free feasting 

It’s hard not to think of a festive feast without thinking of your festive beast. Most holiday tables feature fowl (turkey, goose, duck) as the centrepiece of a meal, or perhaps a prime rib or lobster.

But what to do if you’re vegan? No dining on animal products, including dairy and honey—so much for the obvious, like turkey, and the not-so obvious, like pumpkin pie (there’s cream in that filling). No products made from animal at all, in fact, so no leather, wool or fur. If you’re vegan, and want to whip up your animal-free feast, there’s a new cookbook in time for the holidays.

Tis the Season to be Vegan is the second vegan cookbook from Tumbleweed Publishing, the first being last spring’s Veganize Me, which quickly sold out and went to a second printing, evidence there’s a demand for this niche market.

What started out as a fundraiser to cover the cost of Tumbleweed Entertainment’s Tumbleweed Five free live show last year is quickly taking on a life of its own—the next project is a vegan’s guide to dining out in the SuperCity, due out in the new year.

The new recipe book is small, but packed full of info for vegan veterans and newcomers alike, including holiday activities, gift ideas and a reference section. It’s coil-bound, so it lies flat, and the print is large—very user-friendly.

The two dozen or so recipes are divided up into sections with tongue-in-cheek names such as “So hungry I could eat a horse…radish.” There’s the holiday meal (including an excellent Tofurkey recipe), dessert and snack food. None of the recipes are complicated; in fact, the hardest part is likely locating some ingredients such as flaxseed paste and seitan, but store names are provided.

A sampling of the recipes brought some good results, in particular, Claire’s Black Bean Burgers (meaty enough to make you forget there’s no actual cow involved), Ta Hell with Da Bell Burritos (a spicy, flavourful wrap) and Vanilla Banana Ice Cream (surprisingly smooth and rich tasting for a dairy-free “ice cream”).

I did not care for the mushroom “gravy,” which I found salty and oily (oil is substituted for butter, an animal fat), nor did I like the vegan eggnog, which had a chalky texture (although I expect with enough rum, it would be fine).

The one thing I don’t like about this little book is the preachiness that creeps in here and there. In the source section, websites such as “milksucks.com” are included, marring an otherwise excellent reference. I think it weakens the case for veganism (or just about anything, for that matter) when you resort to listing what’s bad about the other side instead of just having your side judged on its own merits. It reminds me of American politics, when candidates run down their opponents to make themselves look better. And I’m assuming the people buying this book are either already vegans, or are considering it and will therefore have done their research.

Tis the Season to be Vegan is currently for sale at Just Us! Coffee Roasters on Barrington Street, Satisfaction Feast on Granville and Great Ocean on Quinpool, with plans for other outlets including Outside the Lines and Venus Envy.

Tis the Season to be Vegan Tumbleweed PublishingEditor: Claire Gallant(About $6, price may vary with location due to consignment percentages)

Tis the Season to be vegan official book launch (with vegan treats and local artists Laura Peek and Nate and Marcel performing), December 11 at One World Cafe, 2412 Agricola, 2pm.

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