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Starting a plant-based cookbook club, by Diana Goldman, VLCE

I’ve heard that on average we only use three recipes from each of the cookbooks we own. Why so few? Perhaps it’s lack of time, fear of failure or something else. This is the beauty of a Cook Book Club. The club chooses a cookbook and each member prepares one recipe from the book to share at a pot-luck gathering. I love my Plant-based Cookbook Club. I’ve met a wonderful group of new friends who share the common interest in preparing and sharing delicious and healthy food. It’s a fabulous way to try more than three recipes in a cookbook and to spread the word about plant-based cuisine one mouth-watering dish at a time.

Sound appealing? Here are 6 steps for starting and maintaining a Plant-based Cookbook Club of your own:

1) Recruit Members

Find one or two friends who are enthusiastic about the Plant-based Cookbook Club idea. Each can reach out to spread the word and invite members. Consider starting a club amongst coworkers, the parents of your children’s friends, neighbors, high school classmates, sports teammates, your family, members of your religious institution or residents of your dorm.

In my case, my friend Jill and I, both vegan, read an article about a cookbook club and thought it would be fun to start one of our own. We reached out to members of our temple who have an interest in healthy eating. Our group has about 18 members. It’s not always easy to settle on a date that works for everyone, but with this many members, we tend to have 6-10 at each gathering. Whether the turnout is large or small, we always have a wonderful time.

2) Find a host, set a date and obtain RSVPs

We rely on Doodle or email to find a date that works for the majority of the group. We appreciate that Doodle allows members to leave a comment to indicate which dish they are planning to bring. This allows us to balance out the dishes between appetizers, entrees and desserts as well as avoid duplication of recipes. A shared Google document or spreadsheet would work well for this too. In our case, we take turns hosting the get-togethers.

3) Break-the-ice

Not all of the members will necessarily know each other at your first gathering so it’s a nice idea to start off with an icebreaker. In our case, we held the first meeting at Jill’s house and she and I prepared a few vegan snacks for the guests. Each of us took turns introducing ourselves and describing our interest in joining the cookbook club. From the intros we learned that our group was made of up health-seekers, vegetarians, vegans and cooking enthusiasts. What we all have in common is our interest in socializing with a friendly group of women, making new friends and exploring vegan cooking.

4) Agree on a Format

There’s no set format for a Plant-based Cookbook Club but here is how it works for ours. For each meeting, we choose one vegan cookbook and each member prepares a dish from the book to bring to the gathering. Alternatively, members can prepare any recipe created by the cookbook author. For instance, for one of our gatherings we chose the cookbook Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz. Members had the option of preparing a recipe from this book, another of Isa’s books, or one of her recipes found online.

5) Gather, eat and enjoy

Here’s the fun part. Prepare one dish but arrive to sample a variety. In our group, we place all the dishes on a buffet and then introduce our individual dishes, sharing information about the dish such as: why it was chosen, what worked, what flopped, variations from the original recipe, ingredients needing demystification etc. At this point, dig in and be amazed! A member shared about plant-based eating that it’s “enlightening to learn that we can make such delicious food without animal products.”

Cookbook Club 1

6) Learn from each other

Not only will your group have an opportunity to sample delicious dishes, but you’ll share your experiences and knowledge about vegan cuisine and lifestyle in general as well. One member describes what makes our, at times eye-opening, gatherings so special, “the club is about more than just food…it’s about friendship and learning things from each other as well.“

dianaDiana Goldman, VLCE received a B.S. from Cornell University in Nutritional Science and an Ed.M. from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Never too old for change and looking at the world in new ways, she became a vegan at 48 years of age and returned to Cornell to obtain a Certificate in Plant Based Nutrition. Additionally, she attended Main Street Vegan Academy where she trained to become a Vegan Lifestyle Coach and Educator. She loves sharing information about the joy, peace of mind, palate pleasure, and health benefits that come from a vegan lifestyle. She teaches plant-based cooking classes and vegan seminars and shares recipes and helpful resources on her website www.beantownkitchen.com