The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook (publisher) by Anne Marshall, $175. VEGETARIAN cookery writers have a distinct advantage over those concerned with more fleshy comestibles. Vegetables are more attractive than slabs of meat, and make for instantly appetising illustrations. The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook takes full advantage of nature's chromatic bounty. With full-colour photographic spreads on every other page, even committed carnivores may find themselves tempted to try these recipes. Although born in England, author Anne Marshall has made her name in Australia. This is to the benefit of Hong Kong readers as the ingredients she uses - a combination of Asian and Western - are widely available here. It is a large book containing more than 600 recipes. These are divided into sections: hors d'oeuvres, soups, main courses, pasta, rice and grains, salads and accompaniments, desserts and cakes, and snacks. This, and the fact that dish titles are refreshingly free of fancy adjectives, lifts The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook from the coffee table to the kitchen. Once open on the counter-top, amateur cooks will find themselves with a practical tool for everyday use. While some of the dishes would be fine for dinner parties, the majority are of the homely snack and family supper variety. It has to be said that Marshall is no Elizabeth David when it comes to the written word. Nevertheless, she is able to express herself clearly and conveys her enthusiasm for vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds in plain, simple terms. There are background chapters on how and why Marshall became interested in vegetarian food, the reasons people reject meat in their diet, types of vegetarian diet, how to obtain sufficient nutrients and what to look for when shopping. At the back is a comprehensive glossary explaining the more unusual ingredients and vegetarian dietary terms. A lacto-ovo vegetarian, for the record, is someone who eats dairy products and eggs. The distinctions between those who will and won't eat animal by-products are also acknowledged in the recipes. A symbol system designates what is suitable for whom, and alternatives suggested where relevant. And so to the recipes. In line with Australia's multicultural society, signature dishes from almost every country are represented. A small selection of these includes chow meins and fried rice from China, Indian egg curry and samosas, Middle Eastern couscous and baklava, Swiss cheese tart and Mexican lentil burgers, Thai potato and tofu cakes, Russian blini - even Scottish barley broth. Those dishes which usually contain meat or fish have been adapted to contain a full complement of vegetable proteins. Purists may blanch, but at last hungry vegetarians get a fair share of the world's culinary pie. An eye is kept on nutrition throughout; meals are low in fat and salt - soy milk instead of cream and salt-reduced soya sauce, for example - even within the snack section. Also helpful for a Hong Kong audience is the fact that most dishes can be prepared in 30 minutes. This is a myth-debunking cookbook, targeted at new vegetarians or those who cater for them. It sets out to prove that vegetarian meals are as interesting, balanced, quick, attractive and tasty as their flesh alternatives. On paper, at least, it appears to succeed.