Last Christmas, a dear friend gave me a copy of The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet by known animal activist and actress Alicia Silverstone. Today, I picked it up off my shelf and decided to read it again.
Who doesn’t want to feel great, lose weight, save the planet, and of course look like Alicia Silverstone? Before you discredit this as celebrity propaganda, I ask you to give this book a chance. Look past her character in Clueless and look at the energy she expends being the front woman for PETA, promoting The Farm Sanctuary, and passing knowledge to the world via her book and her online community The Kind Life. Silverstone became vegan after making the connection between pets and farm animals.
“Why did we buy some of them cute little doggy beds while slaughtering others? I had to ask myself–in all seriousness–why don’t I just eat my dog?”
I think this is how many of us start and it is quite a bridge to cross when one day you look at a hamburger and picture the face of a cow. I ate hamburgers often for the first 28 years of my life before suddenly making that connection.
She leads by going through the “nasty” foods, which are meat, dairy, and other foods such as sugar. She doesn’t preach. She tells you why they are nasty to your body, the planet, and animals while highlighting a “superhero” here and there. The information is factual and she delivers it in a way that hits home by exposing the suffering, damage to the environment, and health. For example:
*More than 95 percent of eggs sold in the US come from birds confined in wire battery cages so small they can hardly move. (p. 31)
* It takes more than 11 times the energy to create animal protein than grain protein. (p. 26)
* Remember, cow’s milk is designed to turn a baby calf into a 400-pound cow. (p. 36)
Next, she runs through the “kind” foods such as vegetables, grains, and why not to eat GMO (genetically modified organism) foods before launching into nutritional facts and how to execute this ideal lifestyle. The entire second half of the book is devoted to Alicia’s recipes.
Now, if you are a meat-eating, milk-drinking consumer, Alicia’s definition of flirting may seem intense, even though she lists brands that you may already use, such as Morningstar, Earth Balance, and Amy’s. Give it a shot. Those fake meats are actually delicious (Gardein is one of my favorites for example). For those of you who are already vegetarian (even part time), the book takes you a step further into vegan status and later superhero status by eating primarily macrobiotic foods (if you choose).
Overall, the thing I enjoy most is her humor (such as highlighting photos of cute vegan boys) and frankness (like when she tells us how gassy she gets after she eats cheese). Further, the positive energy she sends out in every page makes you want to run out and buy leafy greens and whole grains while snubbing the fattening cheese department with attitude. Yet, she celebrates what you can do, even if you aren’t ready to make that big leap just yet. The one downfall of this book didn’t even occur to me until I read other Amazon reviews. I live in Boston. If I want to go buy something off-beat like dandelion greens or daikon, I can run right over to Whole Foods Market. If you live in a place with only a traditional grocery store nearby, it might be hard to even find tofu. Regardless, it would be impossible to read this book without walking away with at least one lifestyle change. I’ll continue to revisit it from time to time to remind me to put the parmesan cheese down and use a little more garlic instead.