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....
(adapted from The George Bernard Shaw Vegetarian Cookbook by his former cook and housekeeper Alice Laden.)
2 large leeks
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.