The story of this book began when I could not ignore any more the negative comments about vegan food: “Boring, tasteless, not enough protein, unsatisfying, etc.” I too was tired of mediocre, repetitive, insubstantial and tasteless vegan food. That came to a painful climax when traveling the world with my husband for two years. For the most part, the vegan dining experience was shockingly poor, regardless of which beautiful country we were in. Despite the plenitude of vegan recipes (as you will soon discover), we could barely find vegan side dishes, let alone a complete, nutritious, tasty, and satisfying vegan meal—even in good and fine-dining restaurants. When lucky, we found some mediocre vegan food, but it was bland, unattractive, and lacking in protein. Often we carried a bag of nuts and other snacks not to leave the restaurant hungry.
No wonder those negative prejudices about a vegan diet are so persistent!
With all these real concerns, how can you get people past the idea that eating vegan means they will never eat delicious food again, and they will not have adequate protein? Old beliefs die hard, especially when cultural and social biases, as well as the marketing efforts of the meat and dairy industries, have such a great impact on us.
Well, I have the answer, and I am so excited to be sharing it with you. I realized that, after thirty years of experience as a vegetarian and later a vegan chef, I had all the ingredients for creating and sharing delicious vegan recipes that include healthy sources of vegan protein. I promised myself that I would develop recipes that are a joy to prepare, beautiful to behold, yummy, and nutritious. I wanted these dishes to be so tasty that you could serve them to friends and family without the need to mention they are vegan. Even the most stubborn meat-eaters would have no choice but to reconsider their views on vegan food and might start introducing it into their diets, especially when they realized how much better and more energized they feel after eating this food. So, this is how Irresistibly Vegan: Gourmet Dining was born.
Once my husband and I stopped traveling and settled in BC, Canada, the project really took off. I was blessed with experienced food tasters from around the world trying the recipes and giving feedback for over a year. Soon, I also started bringing these gourmet meals to friends and family, to the annual neighborhood pig roast, to my yoga studio events, to outdoor and indoor events—and I saw people’s faces turn from reluctance to joyful surprise. I knew I was on the right track!
One of the most frequent comments I got was “I didn’t know vegan food could taste so good and be so satisfying!” People who tried serving these gourmet meals were amazed by how surprised and impressed family and friends were by the unique and delicious flavors of these dishes, as well as their beautiful presentation.
They no longer had to reveal that they were serving vegan dishes nor apologize for bland-tasting meals. They could serve this food with pride and confidence. Now their guests’ negative comments were replaced with genuine appreciation, as they had enjoyed the food and felt satisfied.
In this book you will find my top twenty-one gourmet menus (over one hundred recipes). The menus include a main course, which can include three or more dishes (except for Classic Lasagna and Moussaka, where the serving suggestion is a mixed salad with a side of beans), and suggestions for an appetizer and a dessert.
My recipes will take you, your family, and your friends on an exciting journey into many culinary cultures and cuisines from around the world. I will introduce you to authentic ingredients and cooking methods. Whenever possible, I encourage the sourcing of organic ingredients from local farmers. These recipes stand on their own because everything is prepared from high-quality, well-sourced, whole foods that don’t include processed animal protein substitutes (no tofu turkey, fake bacon, meatless patties, etc.). Most dishes have either no processed ingredients or the absolute minimum. Yes, this is possible!
Best of all, these recipes take the guesswork out of your meal planning! Creating complete menus from scratch is a thing of the past! You can choose a full menu for a festive occasion or leave out the appetizer and/or dessert for a simpler meal. Plus, any dish can be served on its own. And please, use these menus as inspiration for your own creations!
As much as I love the great variety that the vegan cuisine offers and the immediate health benefits I experienced, it is important to emphasize my belief that veganism is a powerful act of kindness toward the animals who share this planet with us. Moreover, it is my understanding that a vegan lifestyle is more ecologically sustainable, and it can reduce our footprint. These menus are my contribution to supporting others in enjoying a vegan lifestyle.
May food be your canvas and your culinary creations true masterpieces.
About the award winning Author
Born in Spain, one of the culinary centers of Europe, Elvira was passionate about food from a young age. She grew up in a family of experienced and talented cooks.
One of her first memories of cooking is proudly wearing an adult apron, sitting in her grandparents’ kitchen in front of a bucket—twice her size—filled with freshly picked tomatoes. Engulfed by the exhilarating aroma of the tomatoes, the scent of fresh herbs, and the palpable joy in the kitchen, she helped can tomatoes for the winter season.
Still today she marvels about her grandmother’s traditionally prepared village food: authentic, rustic, and earthy. Country flavors that are hard to match.
Even stronger is her recollection of her mother’s impeccable and exquisitely detailed cooking. The moderation of seasonings, the precision in timing, and the superlative and extraordinary festive dishes prepared with joy and care are some of Elvira’s most treasured memories. When she was eight, Elvira started cooking dinners herself, with her mom’s guidance, slowly venturing into culinary cultures other than her own.
Food—quality food—was always at the center and heart of the home.
Elvira has been a vegetarian chef for more than thirty years (vegan for the past five years). Her culinary career includes the ownership of restaurants, cafés, and catering services. She cooked professionally in Germany, Italy, and the USA. In Germany, she co-owned one of the first vegetarian restaurants in Cologne. For years she catered special events and provided meals for a wide variety of retreats. In the USA, she co-owned a popular café in Sedona, Arizona.