Whether it’s for health, environmental or ethical reasons, more and more people are opting for the veggie lifestyle. The most recent statistics suggest around 1.2 million people in the UK have gone meat-free, with the food on offer for vegetarians becoming ever-more varied, flavourful and adventurous.

We've picked out the best of the new releases of the year (some of which are still only available for pre-order), tried out some of the best recipes, and compiled a diverse selection that will suit all purposes – whether you're a die-hard carnivore looking to transition to eating a couple of veggie meals per week, a long-time vegan or just in search of a beautiful cookbook, we have you covered.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

1. Vegan: The Cookbook by Jean-Christian Jury: £29.95, Phaidon

This extensive tome from long-time vegan and restaurant owner Jean-Christian Jury could otherwise be known as the Bible of vegan cooking. We love how comprehensive this book is, boasting more than 450 recipes from more than 150 countries. From crispy orange-ginger tofu and strawberry mochi to grilled portobello mushroom tostadas, this book really has everything you need to suit every mood, taste and occasion. The book is divided into starters, salads, soups, main courses, grains and beans, pasta and noodles and desserts, with each section featuring recipes categorised by country. You’ll see cuisines from Moldova, Papua New Guinea and Suriname sitting alongside the more familiar flavours of France and China. There is also a guest chef section, which features recipes from internationally renowned chefs such as Dan Barber and Alexis Gauthier.  

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2. Love Real Food: More than 100 Feel-Good Vegetarian Favorites to Delight the Senses and Nourish the Body by Kathryne Taylor: £21.99, Rodale

​Kathryne Taylor's first book stays true to the motto of her massively popular blog, Cookie and Kate: "celebrating whole foods". This wonderful collection of delicious, nutritious and satisfying vegetarian recipes is divided into breakfasts, salads, soups, cocktails, feasts and sweet treats. Written in a friendly and reassuring style, the recipes are simple enough for the home cook to easily follow. Kate will help you be more energetic by starting your day with a bowl of quinoa piña colada granola, washed down with a creamy cashew chai latte and followed by a Thai-style mango slaw or West African peanut soup for lunch. And if you're hosting guests for dinner, this book will show how to make a roasted eggplant lasagna (or even throw a taco party). Those with a sweet tooth are bound to love her healthier peanut butter chocolate chip cookies and German chocolate cake.

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3. Bowls of Goodness: Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes full of Nourishment by Nina Olsson: £18.99, Kyle Books

As the title suggests, this book from Nina Olsson, of the blog Nourish Atelier, focuses on plant-based meals that can be served in bowls. Recipes are divided into breakfasts, soups, salads, grain bowls, noodles, hearty meals, sides and desserts. The book features everything from porridge and curries to fish-free Bouillebaisse, and you’ll also find a vibrant array of healthy salads such as Moroccan harissa salad and Indonesian gado gado. And carb lovers fear not, as there's also comforting slutty pasta and spicy laksa noodles. Each recipe has an introductory paragraph with tips for getting the best results, an explanation of the health benefits of the ingredients used, or a description of a dish’s origin.

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4. Veganize It!: Easy DIY Recipes For A Plant-Based Kitchen by Robin Robertson: £19.99, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

If you've just turned vegetarian or vegan, this book is the perfect guide for creating meat- and dairy-free versions of all those classic favourites such as bacon-topped mac and cheese, French toast, pepperoni, clam chowder and fish and chips. When Robin Roberton first became vegan in the 1980s, products such as dairy-free milks were still years away from being on supermarket shelves, so she had to learn to make them herself. This explains the extensive how-to section of this book, which includes pantry staples such as nut milks, yogurt, mayonnaise, butter and cheeses. Not only does Robertson have decades of personal vegan cooking experience, but she is also a chef and has 20 cookbooks under her belt – you can be confident she knows what she's talking about. 

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5. The Hairy Dieters Go Veggie by Si King & Dave Myers: £14.99, Orion

The much-loved British food heroes, The Hairy Bikers, return with yet another dieting book, this time packed full of simple but tasty vegetarian meals which prove that incorporating more plant-based dishes into your diet needn't be difficult or bland. You’ll fall in love with their cheeky, down-to-earth humour and their healthier takes on popular British classics such as Lancanshire hot pot, pasties and toad in the hole. Meanwhile, those with more exotic palates are bound to enjoy the Latin American shepherd's pie or paneer and pea curry. 

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6. Kale & Caramel: Recipes for Body, Heart, and Table by Lily Diamond: £17.07, Atria Books

Popular blogger Lily Diamond's first book pays homage to the nourishing and healing properties of herbs and flowers. We especially love this book for its stunning photography and creative recipes, not only for dishes to eat but also for natural, DIY beauty products. The book is divided into chapters based on herbs and flowers, such as oregano, lavender, jasmine and orange blossom. Not only will this book teach you all about a myriad of culinary and medicinal uses of herbs and flowers, as well as how to easily get hold of them, but will teach you to make such wonderful concoctions as lemongrass basil coconut ice cream with black sesame brittle, and thyme-scented plum salad. We made the persimmon bites with pomegranate molasses and crispy sage leaves, and they tasted every bit as delicious as they look. 

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7. Green Kitchen at Home: Quick and healthy vegetarian food for every day by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl: £25, Hardie Grant

The popular Scandinavian foodie couple are back with another cookbook. Boasting full-page spreads of the husband and photographer David Frenkiel’s characteristically artistic and food envy-inducing images, this book showcases all their family favourites, ranging from quick weekday breakfasts to speedy dinners, and weekend feasts. We especially liked the taste of the mushroom, goat's cheese, pear and walnut fettuccine and the healthy baked donuts. All recipes are also gluten-free and refined sugar free. 

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8. Saffron Soul: Healthy vegetarian heritage recipes from India by Mira Manek: £20, Jacqui Small

Mira Manek promotes healthy Indian cooking though her popular supper clubs and cookery classes. In this book, she challenges stereotypical perceptions of Indian food as being rich and indulgent, offering healthier and lighter interpretations of classics that she has tweaked from recipes handed down from her mother and grandmother. This colourful book offers recipes for homemade pastes, pickles and garnishes as well as an introduction to a variety of spices. The book is full of flavourful plant-based goodness such as mango and cardamom smoothies, masala grilled aubergine, avocado chutney and grilled maple pineapple with frozen coconut saffron yoghurt. We loved the introduction, which tells the story of Manek’s grandparents’ move from Gujurat in India, to Uganda, then London, and the old family photographs add a lovely personal touch. 

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9. On Vegetables by Jeremy Fox: £29.95, Phaidon

If you're worried meat-free eating might lack variety, look no further than this esteemed Californian chef's homage to vegetables. Organised alphabetically according to vegetable name, this comprehensive collection is bound to change your perception of vegetarian eating. Recipes are inventive and sophisticated, but simple enough for the home cook to follow. From classics such as grilled corn on the cob to peas, white chocolate and macadamia, a popular dish at Fox’s restaurant Ubuntu, you’ll find something for everyone. 

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10. Power Pulses: 150 Superfood Vegetarian Recipes Featuring Vegan & Meat Variations by Tami Hardeman: £16.99, DK

If you go meat-free you might find yourself eating more beans – and you're going to want your culinary repertoire to extend beyond beans on toast. In which case, we really recommend you get hold of this comprehensive guide by Tami Hardeman, author of the internationally recognised blog Running with Tweezers. The book celebrates pulses in 150 different ways, including dishes such as butter bean bisque, red lentil and sweet potato croquettes, and braised leeks and puy lentils. We found the desserts particularly imaginative – look out for strawberry and green lentil crisp, berry and lime mung bean ice pops and lentil baklava, which were all among our favourites. 

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11. Naturally Nourished: Inventive Vegetarian Recipes That Come Together Quickly by Sarah Britton: £20, Jacqui Small

Author of vegetarian blog My New Roots, Sarah Britton's second book is packed full of nutrient-loaded recipes that are quick and easy to make and use accessible ingredients. We love the bright and inspiring photography, and imaginative recipes with catchy names such as surprising sunflower seed risotto. If you're looking for something sweet, we absolutely loved the coconut cardamom blueberry snack cake.  The book also offers many vegan and gluten-free options.

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12. Veggie Desserts + Cakes: Carrot Cake and Beyond by Kate Hackworthy: £14.99, Pavilion

If you're looking to incorporate more vegetables into your diet, there's no excuse not to look outside soups and salads. Especially not once you have a copy of popular blogger Kate Hackworthy's hugely imaginative cookbook that will show you how to have your cake and eat your veg too. As the title suggests, once you're done flicking through this book you'll understand that the possibilities of using vegetables in sweet treats are endless. If you think beetroot brownies and courgette muffins are old news, you’ll be delighted by the wealth of unusual recipes such as asparagus and lemon cupcakes, pea and vanilla cake, spinach and strawberry swiss roll, cauliflower and chocolate hazelnut filo sticks, and sweetcorn cookies, to name just a few.

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13. Hippie Lane The Cookbook: Wholefood Goes Deliciously Luxe by Taline Gabrielian: £17.99, Murdoch Books

Social media star Taline Gabrielian's cookbook stood out to us especially because of the extensive desserts section, which offers mouth-watering healthier versions of indulgent-sounding treats such as peanut butter swirl chocolate cookies, galaxy bars, tiramisu and salty caramel tart. Recipes are all gluten-free and refined sugar free. The book shows beautiful lifestyle images of Taline and her young children enjoying her beautiful food, and is written in her characteristically intimate style. We especially enjoyed the introduction, in which she talks about her approach to healthy eating and how she has been inspired by her Armenian heritage. 

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14. Vegan BBQ by Nadie Horn & Jörg Mayer: £20, Grub Street Publishing

This brilliant book by German food bloggers Nadine Horn and Jörg Mayer is a must for any keen BBQ'er who's looking to eat less meat. The book includes a helpful guide with tips and tricks for meat-free BBQing, and features everything from burgers and hotdogs to kebabs and pizza, as well as side dishes and salads. We also love the delicious array of homemade vegan sauces, which include flavoured butters, salsas and of course three types of BBQ sauce. We particularly like the look of the aubergine gyros and quesadillas. Here’s hoping the British weather will be good enough this summer to try them out… 

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The Verdict: Vegetarian cookbooks

We think both Love Real Food and The Hairy Dieters Go Veggie offer great introductions to vegetarian eating, while the Kale & Caramel cookbook would make a stunning gift. However, our absolute favourite for its huge variety of recipes and international scope, is Vegan: The Cookbook.

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