by Alicia Silverstone
Background: Alicia Silverstone is a very devoted celebrity vegan who has done a lot for the veggie movement. After her first book was published, she launched a website, thekindlife.com, promoted it on the daytime talk show circuit, and has most recently started a book club on her blog.
Tone: The book is informative without being too preachy. About half the book deals with the ethical issues behind veganism. Topics addressed include factory farming, the soy debate, bottled water vs. tap, testimonials from formerly sick people who went vegan, and insight from the top vegan-advocate doctors in the field including Dr. Dean Ornish and T. Colin Campbell. She also has a section devoted to frequently asked questions, where she debunks a lot of myths associated with veganism (like that you can't get enough protein!)
Silverstone allows you to choose between three different levels of her plan: flirts, vegans and superheroes. Flirts try to move towards a more animal-friendly lifestyle without giving up animal products completely, vegans don't consume any animal products but still enjoy sugar and treats, while superheroes (loosely based on the macrobiotic diet) stay away from sugar, soy and limit fruit. The idea is that you will begin a flirt and eventually graduate to a superhero lifestyle. I read her readers' comments and many definitely appreciate that here are stages rather than having to go cold turkey.
Recipes tested: So far I have only tested the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups, which were incredible. The vegan 'Reese's' were super easy to make and didn't require any unusual ingredients, which was a welcome change from the rest of the book. The main reason why I haven't tested any of the other recipes so far is because I never have any of the ingredients on hand, and most are hard to find at normal supermarkets anyway. Here is a sampling of ingredients frequently used: seitan, white miso, Earth Balance (vegan butter), shoyu, carob chips, daikon, kabocha squash. Yes, I'm sure I could make substitutions, but I honestly can't get excited about a cookbook that requires so many expensive and hard-to-find ingredients.
Accessibility: While the first half of the book is really well-written and would be very helpful for a newbie vegan, the second half (namely, the recipes) failed to impress me. They look good, but because they aren't accessible, I've only made one recipe so far. And in my experience, that does not a successful cookbook make.
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