For Christmas my brother-in-law got me a goodie bag of three vegan books - a veritable goldmine of gourmet goodness! I know this is a fashion and style blog, but it obviously maintains a vegan theme, so I am going to take a brief step away from discussing all things glamorous to talk about all things gastronomical.
The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone was a book I plopped on my Christmas list knowing it was promoting a vegan diet. I was a little wary, as although my shopping habits are vegan, my diet has remained vegetarian since first making the meat-free move two and a half years ago. Veganism always seemed so 'extreme', and I worried slightly that this book would have no relevance to me. However, I was intrigued to read what the actress had to say, so I merrily put it on my list just in case someone happened to buy it for me.
Am I glad they did! This book is fantastic - Alicia writes with her own voice and quickly reassures that she isn't positioning herself as a celebrity with oodles of time and money to spend on maintaining this diet but is in fact taking an Everyman perspective, writing recipes and suggestions for exercise and eating that can fit into anyone's budget, schedule and lifestyle.
Simply put, there are probably many facts and statistics that Alicia writes that you've heard before - but it's the way she tells them - no lecturing or holier-than-thou smugness behind her words at all. You do not feel talked down to but rather encouraged. And there will also be a whole host of new information that will blow your mind and make you want to clean your fridge out immediately. Plus there's a few chapters on living a vegan life in general - not just keeping a vegan diet - and this is expanded on on her website TheKindLife.com.
I don't even feel that veganism is extreme anymore either. Sure, for the past few months I've noticed my body rejecting dairy more and more - I just don't have the taste for it I used to (and I used to not be able to wake up without a big bowl of cereal and tons of milk!). But I thought that actually taking that next step into veganism is a whole other deal - a huge life change that would make eating out practically impossible and would be sure to lead to a whole host of nutrient deficiencies. I was wrong. This book shows that. You. Must. Read. It.
The other goodies in my Christmas bag included another book I requested: The Conscious Cook. Tal Ronnen is a vegan chef (they're hard to come by) and his recipes are just amazing and absolutely delicious. Host a dinner party and cook some of these and I can guarantee no one will even realize it's vegan.
I also received a book I didn't ask for but was equally delighted to receive - I hadn't heard much about Ani Phyo before but this book is promoting raw food and also has a goldmine of recipes to choose from. I don't think I'll ever be 100% raw but incorporating raw meals into your regular diet is great for the body. Give it a try!
While on the subject of books (hey, my Bachelors was in English Literature, I'm a writer, I love books!), another vegan favourite is Skinny Bitch. It's a bestseller, yes, and has done well, yes, but I would recommend choosing your recipients carefully. For someone who is more sensitive, give them The Kind Diet and watch them realize, after being presented with a potent combination of gentle narrative with mind-blowing statistics, the benefits of a vegan lifestyle. But for someone who you feel can take it, Skinny Bitch delivers the facts with a hard-hitting style that may be just what that person needs (it is also more focused on weight loss, so that's another thing to take into consideration). The Skinny Bitch in the Kitch cookbook is also a member of my ever-increasing arsenal of vegan cookbooks, providing ever more options for meals, snacks and more.
I continue to promote the purchase of products that are made without animal testing and without fur - in short, without cruelty. This is because it is so simple, with the right information, to make informed and kind choices in your daily life. Fashion and beauty are things we should have fun with - not things we should ever make another being suffer for. But at the same time, diet is so essential. Alicia says it best in her book: "killing is a big deal". Just think on that for a bit, and do what you can to make a difference. Every person counts! And so does every animal.
Proving you don't have to be cruel to be kind,