Thursday, March 24, 2011


Author: Kathy Freston
Weinstein Books, 2011
304 pages

Several weeks ago, I made my mind up that I was going to go vegetarian. I had lots of reasons for doing it, and for two and a half weeks now, I've been about 90% vegan. I haven't eaten any meat or dairy, at least not intentionally. (I have had a couple of eggs, but they were farm fresh eggs from my parents' small farm and they treat their chickens very well.) Anyway, at about the same time as I started eating this way, I began reading Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World.

Each chapter in the book lays out a good reason to move toward a more plant-based diet: health reasons, environmental reasons, etc. I've read lots of other books that try to convince readers to go vegetarian or vegan, but sooner or later they usually get annoyingly preachy. Not Veganist. In fact, several times the author expresses her purpose for this book is to get people to consider the impact if they lean into a vegan diet, not necessarily to be a strict vegan, which may be the ideal but is not always attainable by everyone.

One point of view I hadn't read much about in the past was the spiritual perspective. Freston discusses some of the eating rules/guidelines outlined in Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism. While I'm certainly not an expert on this topic, it does make sense to me that if your belief system involves reducing suffering, then that should extend to the animal kingdom as well.

The chapter on factory farming had me tears. I read part of it out loud to Sandy, and there were times when I could barely read because it was like something got caught in my throat and I couldn't say the words out loud. After reading this chapter, I'm not sure I will be able to return to eating meat or dairy, especially meat and dairy from factory farms.

Most likely you won't want to, either, if you read Veganist.

This isn't a cookbook, so don't expect recipes. It does, however, have a fairly extensive appendix section that includes three weeks' worth of meal suggestions, recommended books and web sites, and examples of vegan products you can buy at grocery stores and health food stores. All in all, Veganist is a reasonable, well-written set of arguments for a plant-based diet and a nice addition to my growing library of vegetarian-focused books.