How to Eat Like A Vegetarian Even If You Never Want to Be One

How to Eat Like A Vegetarian Even If You Never Want to Be One, by Carol J. Adams and Patti Breitman.   Lantern Books, 2008.

If you’re looking for a book to help yourself or others who are new to preparing whole plant foods, if you’re puzzled about what to do with tofu or kale, pick this up.  The authors adopt a friendly, laid-back tone to meet readers right where they are in their eating habits, and exert no pressure to make sweeping dietary changes.   “We aren’t inviting you to go for a PhD in vegan cuisine,” they write, “we’re inviting you out to the playground!”  The book does contain recipes, but is mostly about putting together simple foods in simple ways.  Every time I’ve shared information from it, the response has been enthusiastic.  Many people want to eat more healthfully, but don’t want to commit to being vegetarian.  They lack the time or interest to learn about unfamiliar foods.  This will get them started down that path, and they’ll learn the ethical reasons as well as health considerations. Continue reading How to Eat Like A Vegetarian Even If You Never Want to Be One

Meat Is Boring, Say Top Chefs

TIME magazine recently proclaimed some heartening news in “Where’s the Beet?: How Big- Name Chefs Are Shrinking Their Customers’ Carnivore Quota.”  Six top chefs were interviewed, all saying they are preparing less meat in their restaurants.  Two of them, Mario Batali and Jose Andres, say that meat is boring.  “After four bites of a big steak, I’m tired of it,” says Batali, who plans to open his sixteenth restaurant soon, this one in New York City and entirely vegetarian.   Andres, with six restaurants in Los Angeles and Washington, describes a combination of fruits and vegetables as “a rainbow of possibilities.  It’s more interesting than any meat.” Continue reading Meat Is Boring, Say Top Chefs

Vice Cream: Gourmet Vegan Desserts

Vice Cream: Gourmet Vegan Desserts, by Jeff Rogers.  Ten Speed/Celestial Arts, 2004.

I’m writing this in the hottest part of the summer, and wish I could serve you some of Rogers’ delicious vegan ice creams.  I’ve tried two so far: Black Forest (flavored with cocoa and fresh cherries) and Carrot Cake (based on carrot juice, walnuts, maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg).  Both of these inspired enthusiasm bordering on ecstasy in the people I served, and other concoctions in the book sound equally wonderful.  The recipes rely on cashews as the creaminess component, rather than on soy or coconut as other vegan ice creams do.  A few raw recipes are included also.  This little book is still in print (as of mid-2010) and would be a fabulous addition to your cookbook shelf.

I’m Retired!

I’ve just taken early retirement from a longtime position as a reference librarian in a public library, and I’m here to tell you that retiring is absolutely amazing!  It’s so mind-blowing that it’s probably just as well that no one does it more than once or twice in a lifetime.  For years I had to get dressed, pack my lunch, check the weather, determine if it was bikeable or not (I rode my bike every day except when too cold, raining or snowing heavily), and show up at a certain time.  Continue reading I’m Retired!

The New Good Life

The New Good Life: Living Better Than Ever in an Age of Less, by John Robbins.  Ballantine Books, 2010.

Robbins attained fame as an author with his book Diet for a New America.  Here his scope has widened beyond food to include a number of lower-impact lifestyle practices.  He begins by speaking about money management, relating his personal odyssey of growing up wealthy, renouncing it to live very simply, then building up wealth again only to lose it in the Bernie Madoff scandal. Not only did Robbins lose all his savings, but having heavily mortgaged his home, he was in danger of losing it as well. Continue reading The New Good Life

The Empathic Civilization

The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis, by Jeremy Rifkin.  Penguin Group, 2009.

We who care about animals have had to develop our empathy beyond what mainstream society is willing to do, and one of Rifkin’s earlier books, Beyond Beef, addressed the meat issue.  Here he looks at how we treat our fellow humans, making a detailed and lengthy case–over 600 pages–that worldwide we are becoming increasingly empathic (able to care about the well-being of others, even others whose culture and language are very different). Recent surveys have shown that we are becoming more accepting of interracial marriage and mixed race children, homosexuality, the disabled, etc. compared to a few decades ago. We’re also coming to see that excess wealth beyond what we need to be comfortable does not increase our happiness. Continue reading The Empathic Civilization

Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows

Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism, by Melanie Joy.  Conari Press, 2009.

Ideally qualified to investigate the mindset that permits humans to mistreat and eat so-called “food” animals while lavishing love and expensive veterinary care on dogs and cats, the author is a social psychologist and professor of psychology. She describes the suffering not only of the factory farmed animals, but of slaughterhouse workers, people living near factory farms who become ill because of the factories’ waste products, omnivores who consume a variety of pesticides, hormones, deadly viruses and feces in their meat, and us taxpayers who are subsidizing it all. Meat inspection, which most omnivorous people think is protecting them, is either a joke or nonexistent. It really makes you wonder why a system so hazardous to our health and the environment has continued and in fact, worsened, for so long without a major public outcry. Which is just what the author sets out to explore, in ways that were new to me. Continue reading Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows

Making Meat-Eating Look Green

In the current (July/August) issue of Mother Jones, Associate Editor Kiera Butler questions the “greenness” of eating plant foods vs. eating meat in “Get Behind Me, Seitan: Why the vegetarian-equals-green argument isn’t so cut-and-dried.” Right out of the starting gate, Butler tells us that until recently she had been a lifelong vegetarian.  Wow, lifelong– that’s unusual and, among longtime committed vegetarians and vegans, enviable.  Yet Butler tells us this in the context of being in a restaurant ordering a burger, that is, a dead-flesh type burger.  What gives? Continue reading Making Meat-Eating Look Green

Eating Animals

Eating Animals, by Jonathan Safran Foer.  Little Brown & Co, 2009.

Bold, convincing, and carefully fact-checked, yet not absolutist. I’m hopeful this book will earn a wide readership due to the author’s reputation. (His novels have earned him inclusion in a nationwide short list of  best writers under 40, and one of the novels, Everything Is Illuminated, was made into a major movie.)  If only all meat-eaters would be willing to look at how cruelly U.S. food animals are treated, perhaps more would change their diets. Especially when vegetarian food is so healthful and delicious. Continue reading Eating Animals

The China Study

The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health, by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., and Thomas M. Campbell II.  Benbella Books, 2006.

This is the most convincing and thorough exposition of the health reasons to go vegan, period. The author’s reputation as a researcher is as distinguished as one could hope for; the reader can have absolute confidence that what is being asserted is based on the best science we can get. The evidence that a plant-based diet minimizes risk of, and even reverses, so many chronic debilitating diseases is now sufficiently strong that rational doubt is virtually impossible. The section toward the end about why the American public is not hearing this message–including physician ignorance of nutrition and the deliberately created confusion, denial and pressure from the food and drug industries–is equally brilliant.
Read this, and get it into as many other hands as possible.