I really wanted to like this book – I’ve been hearing such great things about it. VegNews even went so far as to call it “The Vegan Bible New Testament” and “Moran’s magnum opus.”
It’s a great book for vegetarian and vegan “beginners.” Emphasis on BEGINNERS.
It’s light, fluffy, conversational – and, yes, motivating. It’s a quick and easy read. Victoria Moran covers a great deal of territory – everything from factory farming to nutritional supplements to juicing to raising vegan children. She even touches on a few more unusual topics – vegan alcoholic drinks, the effects of diet on erectile dysfunction, how to meet other vegans and vegetarians, the fact that E.coli outbreaks in vegetables are actually caused by animal agriculture (fecal matter in agricultural water runoff or manure used as fertilizer), and even, “Will being a vegan conflict with my being a Christian?” And I like how she points out – several times! – how much easier it is to be vegan today than twenty or even ten years ago. (New vegans just don’t appreciate how wonderful – and recent! – it is to walk into a mainstream grocer, and have multiple brands and flavors of soymilk!)
However, nothing is covered in very much depth. And most of the book is old news to those of us who’ve been vegetarian/vegan for awhile – we know what foie gras is, we know the dairy industry has a direct link to the veal industry, we know that a vegetarian and ultimately a vegan diet has many positive health benefits.
What concerns me is some of Victoria’s research is a little sloppy. She recommends the Olive Garden’s marinara sauce and “vegan minestrone”; according to Olive Garden’s allergen information, both contain dairy. (See my Olive Garden review.) Victoria also recommends the Ruby Tuesday veggie burger – “vegan if you order without cheese” – but their current veggie burger, which they’ve had for well over a year now, contains feta cheese mixed into the patty. Even the previous incarnations of Ruby Tuesday’s veggie burgers were served with mayonnaise, AND if you flip open the bun you will see a lovely golden color which means it was toasted with butter. Also touted is McDonald’s McVeggie Burger – common in the UK and India, but most definitely NOT the US!
Her recommendations on cosmetics/personal care items are also cause for concern. First, she makes no distinction between “not tested on animals” and “vegan” cosmetics – two completely different things. Many cosmetics not tested on animals still contain animal ingredients and, therefore, are not vegan. Second, several of the cosmetic companies she recommends – Avon, Estee Lauder – are indeed conducting poisoning tests on animals in China. The news caused a huge uproar in the veg world earlier this Spring and it’s a bit worrying that neither Victoria nor her editors at Penguin thought to remove them from the list.
Overall? It’s a good book for beginners, or better yet, a great gift for your friend/relative/significant other that just doesn’t quite understand all this vegan stuff you’re into. If you’ve been veg for awhile, though, there’s nothing really new.