Ann Gentry’s new cookbook, Vegan Family Meals, was officially released last week. While Ann is better known in Los Angeles as the owner and chef of a pair of vegan restaurants, Real Food Daily, she is now author of not one but two cookbooks (The Real Food Daily Cookbook came out 2005) available to a national audience. Whereas her first book shared some of the recipes she uses in her restaurants, this newer book is focused on shorter ingredients lists and less time-consuming preparations—the food she cooks at home for herself, her husband, and their two children, hence the “family” part of the title. Getting to work with Ann on her book wasn’t only a pleasure from a professional standpoint, as writing about food, family and entertaining is a particular interest of mine, but from a personal standpoint as well. Through many Los Angeles-to-Fort Worth phone conversations, I absorbed her philosophy on feeding her family and being a responsible resident on this planet. The vegan diet treads more lightly on the earth than any other I can think of, and it’s hard to argue against the fact that even those who aren’t vegan — like me — benefit from smaller doses of dairy and eggs and bigger helpings of whole grains and veggies. Her book also touches on gluten sensitivity, which a growing number of people are experiencing. For someone who’s guilty of having various combinations of wheat and cheese (bagels with cream cheese, quesadillas, pasta with parm) far too many times in a week, it’s helpful to think about the wisdom in variety, with a wider range of health benefits, not to mention tastes and textures. Congratulations to Ann on a beautiful, warm book that truly inspires. My family is a little more vegan for her efforts.