Thursday, November 8, 2007


If you're vegan, or eat and support vegan products, I Can't Believe It's Vegan! on PETA's website is a great resource. It lists items which PETA calls "accidentally vegan," such as Cinnamon Life Cereal, Pepperidge Farm Dark Pumpernickel Bread, Ore-Ida Tater Tots, and Swanson Vegetable Broth.

At the Library, we have a nice selection of vegan cookbooks, with the subject heading Vegan Cookery, and many more general vegetarian cookbooks. We also have some vegetarian restaurant menus from as early as 1898.

The Vegetarian (Detroit, Michigan) October 1, 1898
Buttolph Menu Collection, New York Public Library

This menu from Siegel Cooper Co. (1901), shows some vegetarian menu options. (Click to enlarge)

As you'll see the "health food options" stem from the Battle Creek Sanitarium Food Co. founded by John Harvey Kellogg, who wrote extensively on health and the benefits of a non-smoking, vegetarian lifestyle.

The history of vegetarianism in the United States is filled with fascinating characters, from the Transcendentalists and one of their Utopian communities Fruitlands - founded by Bronson Alcott, Louisa May's father - to the health reformers Sylvester Graham and Kellogg. For more information on this healthy history, try Revolution at the Table by Harvey A. Levenstein, or Vegetarianism: A History by Colin Spencer.

And lastly, if you're at the Library studying vegetarianism and you get hungry, try Hangawi, a delicious vegan Korean restaurant on 32nd Street, or some of the Indian restaurants in Murray Hill, not too far from 42nd Street. And grab me some menus while you're at it....

Leek Soup
(adapted from The George Bernard Shaw Vegetarian Cookbook by his former cook and housekeeper Alice Laden.)

2 large leeks
4T. butter
1 large potato
1 1/2 cups milk
Salt and Pepper

Wash the leeks very well, slice, place in a saucepan, and saute in the butter, being careful not to allow them to brown. Peel and slice the potato very fine, and add to the leeks. Cover very slowly, stirring gently, until soft, add the milk and salt and pepper. Puree the mixture in a blender for about 3 minutes, or force it through a sieve. Return to saucepan and reheat. Serves 4.


rebecca.hunt said...

It's very amusing how much that 1898 Vegetarian menum resembles some vegetarian and the like cookbooks of the early 80s - I'm thinking of particular The Enchanted Broccoli Forest and The Vegetarian Epicure.

Rebecca Federman said...

You're right Rebecca.
I never thought about it before, but the font and the drawing do remind me of Mollie Katzen's work.

Tempest in a Teapot said...

I'm afraid Shaw's Leek & Potato wouldn't be enough to serve two at my house.

Little Nutbrown Hare said...

I love old menus! I briefly considered considering collectiong old P&O (cruise ships) menus but found a book with dishes from it instead.

ann said...

Oh, and when discussing the history of vegetarianism one mustn't forget the meatless years of the Shakers. Any Shaker cookbook worth its salt will have a chapter on this (the Amy Bess Miller one does a really good job). I've tried some of the recipes, they're really delicious.