Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Color Me Vegan by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

Yet another outstanding book published this year by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau?  Yup, and hang onto your hats…..word has it there is another one or two in the works.  After  love, love, loving her recently published book, The Vegan Table, I was happy to receive a copy of her newest book, Color Me Vegan. The premise of the book is simple: “Maximize your nutrient intake and optimize your health by eating antioxidant-rich, fiber-packed, color-intense meals that taste great.”  The book is organized by color, with each section delineating the benefits and phytonutrients of the represented color.  About the color red, Colleen is “Loopy for Lycopene,” about the color orange there are those terrific beta-carotenes, and so on. The book is beautifully created (another Fair Winds publication ) and replete with gorgeous photographs.

Like all of Colleen’s books, there are informative tidbits throughout the book as well as food history and nutritional information on most pages.  The creativity which she always demonstrates in her recipes have been taken to a new level in this book, with colorful Carrot Fries, Pineapple Mango Chutney, Watermelon Granita, and even Blueberry Ketchup.  While I am partial to The Vegan Table, Color Me Vegan is winning me over; it is unsurpassed for colorful photos and jam-packed nutritional information. And some of the recipes I have tried were quite excellent. For example, the Cashew and Red Lentil Burgers have wonderful flavor, although they required quite a few dishes to prepare.  Be sure to serve exactly the way Colleen suggests — she is one taste-savvy food creation wiz. Those burgers disappeared quickly and had a healthy dose of curry, carrots and other yummy goodness to boot. Where have these wonderful combinations been hiding all my life?

Ms. Patrick-Goudreau always offers plenty of extras in her book. Amazing quality, color and photography are a plus, as are wonderful detail.  Nearly every page has historical, nutritional, or helpful cooking information for the reader. The photos are right there on the page with the easy-to-follow instructions (options often included), the paper quality is wonderful, and the size is just perfect for my menu-holder. What more could a vegan cook want?  This one might be a great gift for a non-vegan, too — as long as they are adventurous and creative!

Lee Hall’s On Their Own Terms

Friday, November 19th, 2010

Lee Hall’s newest book, On Their Own Terms: Bringing Animal Rights Philosophy Down to Earth makes a case for free-living animals. Ms. Hall has a history of undertaking the rights of the oppressed, and is currently the Vice President of Legal Affairs for Friends of Animals. This book seems to parallel the work of Friends of Animals (FoA) in emphasizing that it is wildlife that has the best chance of having rights and being made free of human intervention.  FoA works for domesticates via spay and neuter programs, runs a primate sanctuary which is home to hundreds of formerly traumatized animals, and provides a Marine Animal rescue organization on the West Coast. They have been outspoken about intervening on behalf of local wildlife and have opposed the use of contraceptives for free living animals, insisting that they should only be used for domesticates, who exist solely due to human intervention and cannot sustain themselves without human assistance. Purpose-bred animals such as those used in factory farming are not the primary focus of FoA nor are they the primary focus in Hall’s book.

Hall’s book is easy to read and well organized. She discusses the differences between Utilitarians (Peter Singer) and Abolitionists (Tom Regan and Gary Francione) and suggests that more is needed than what was proposed by any of these theorists, while giving a nod to the abolitionists for their contributions.  Where her books seems to make the most profound addition to literature on this topic is in the challenge she makes to all of us: to imagine the world where animals might be released from the status of property and allowed to live on their own terms. She even suggests (rightly so) that humans need to maintain limitations on their own population numbers and habitat needs to be set aside solely for animals, with humans not interfering with the animals who live therein.

Lee Hall Challenges Animal Rights Activists

Hall charges Whole Foods Market with falsely giving consumers “peace of mind” while they contribute to commodifying animals with their “humane” certification methods for the flesh of animals they sell, and calls on the carpet  (without naming names) some of the large animal protection organizations who partner with animal exploiters. When animal advocates are taught by one organization to kill (euthanize) animals they “rescue,” Hall rightfully challenges how this is in keeping with animal rights. Hall does not champion for larger cages, but wants to see the end of cages altogether. There are some ideas in the book that need challenging, however. Ms. Hall states on page 42: “Some young activists – confused, no wonder, by the derogatory use of the word welfare – avoid caregiving entirely.” While I have never encountered anyone who avoids working on behalf of animals for this reason, they well may exist.  But most advocates seem very clear that the animal rights movement has divided into two major segments: those who believe in using the existing power structures to try to effect minor but more immediate changes in living conditions on behalf of animals who will be used by humans, and those who believe vegan education is essential for increasing animal awareness towards a shift in pardigm towards freeing animals from bondage. Ms. Hall seems to agree that this kind of shift needs to take place as well, (while meanwhile trying to protect existing free-living animals where possible) but wants us to expand our thinking about what the shift might mean. She quotes Harold Brown, (p. 234) “We seek safety, comfort, companionship, shelter, good food — just like all beings. Yet for thirty some years, the movement has been delivering a message of pain, suffering, horror, shame and guilt.” An excellent point, and one that activists may want to consider carefully.

One of the most poignant sections of the book tells the story of Lobo, an elusive wolf living in the wild, avoiding trappers .  He was (p. 79) “the handsomest wolf I have ever seen,” his hunter admits.  The tragic story of the predator who grows to respect the being he is hunting, who increases his understanding of the significant relationships and the individual personality and courage of such an animal, touches the heart. It is a graphic depiction of the metamorphosis of a human being from dominance to understanding with the consequent metamorphosis for Lobo from free-living animal person to surrender and death — and is not a vision that will soon leave this writer. Lobo surrendering to the ultimate destruction and subjugation is an all-too-clear message that the world needs to recognize, now. But will they?

Hall Interjects Theory and Research

Hall spends much time on the hypothetical scenario of two men and a dog in a lifeboat. As Regan has said about this issue (p. 87), “Personally I think the attention showered upon my treatment of such cases is vastly disproportionate to their importance in my general theory.” The only reason that the dog would even be in the boat would be due to human intervention – but, Hall relates, (p. 88) since “animals are not considered persons, so when push comes to shove, they go overboard.”  As a metaphor, this is indeed what happens to animals, who are killed in shelters by the millions as human overpopulation continues unchecked.  However, at times Hall arrests the theories of Regan and Francione to an earlier time, omitting the evolution of their ideas that has taken place in recent years. All in all, despite its usefulness in delineating particulars between competing theories,  I admit the lifeboat parable is my least favorite part of the book.

Hall also introduces some interesting research that has shown that authoritarian type personalities have preferred food items they believed contained beef, whether the item was vegan or not.  The identification of animal flesh with strength is just one more obstacle that needs to be overcome, and it helps advocates to know that this is often the case. Hall is generous in the bites of information that are meted out to her readers. It makes the possibilities of new discovery on each page enticing, indeed.

Lee Hall’s In Their Own Terms Asks for a New Vision for Tomorrow

Hall charges that the term “rights” for purpose-bred animals is “a contradiction in terms,” (p. 105) since they exist only because of human intervention. Yet one wonders: if one is not to become speciesist, does any particular being deserve to live more than another? While it may be important to quit breeding animals into existence, do we not owe a large debt to those that are already in existence?  It would seem problematic that nothing natural will transpire, short of disaster, without human intervention to change the existing structure. It would be humans who would need to arrest their own population growth and it would be humans who would voluntarily need to agree to leave portions of the earth alone, out of bounds and free from human exploitation.  Hall sees clearly that animals have a right to live freely, and with this vision she elaborates and suggest we all need to envision how that would look, this new world with animals living without human intervention.  The problem, however, would be at the margins — when animals hunt near human populations, or humans invade into animal habitat.  Hall seems to think that living dangerously would somehow enhance the experience, but it is not an enhancement most people would be willing to accept. Would such a world mean only the smaller, less dangerous animals would be left to inhabit this Brave New World? Hall’s book does not appear to be her didactic formulaic vision of the future, but rather a challenge to us all to begin envisioning what is possible.  And that, in addition to vegan education, is what much of the today’s animal rights work is about.

Ani Phyo’s Raw Food Essentials

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Luckily for me, my interest in learning more about raw coincided with the arrival of Ani Phyo’s Raw Food Essentials. The book, well-organized and easy to use, arrived at just the right time. Not sure if I was going to become a raw afficianado, but as someone who has always loved eating raw vegetables and fruits, I was ready to dive into the book.  Most of the photos in the book are in black and white; the cover is hardbound and the paper quality is good. Somehow, the book lends itself well to the black-and-white format, yet the color photos in the center of the book give the reader an idea of how lovely raw food can be.

Simple, Easy to Make Raw Food Recipes Abound in Ani Phyo’s Book

First I started with the Pickled Ginger recipe.  I have always loved the ginger given in many restaurants along with Asian cuisine and occasionally would splurge and buy a small container from my local Asian market.  This recipe was easy and quite good; next time I will use my mandolin sliced very thinly to get just the right texture.  Still, this recipe worked for me and is a great addition to my personal recipe collection. This one will be made again. But most of the other recipes did not seem so appealing. I knew I had to dive in and try nonetheless.

Next, I tried the Flax Seed Crackers, made of little more than flax seeds, water and a bit of salt. The seeds get foamy as they soak, and before you know it, you have a solid mass, ready to be spread thinly on a dehydrator or for those of us just experimenting with raw, spread on a large cookie sheet and dried at a low temp in the oven.  (Ms. Phyo has all the necessary gizmos for becoming fully raw on her site, too, if you are interested.) I am not sure how digestible the seeds are, but the crackers are easy enough to make. A little goes a very long way with this one; a few bites and I was full.

The Raw Crepes  - Great Flavor, Wonderful Texture

Growing more adventurous, I tried the raw crepes made with apples, flax seed meal and a little agave. They were surprisingly good and easy to use as crepes. I made the lemon cream filling (raw cashews with water and lemon juice) and had enough for two days worth – they kept very well overnight in an airtight container, and the cream was stored in a glass jar for future use. Again, the food is dense and it doesn’t take much to fill up.  Suddenly, the idea of purchasing a hydrator starting pushing its way into my mind. I had tried some raw crackers made with vegetables at an earlier event and they were excellent – maybe there is more to this raw food thing than just a fad? I was slowly getting hooked.

Finally, I ventured into the Green Papaya Salad. This is a regular around our house, but this recipe was simple with a few new twists. This recipe is extremely easy to make as were the other recipes I tried, and has a fresh, clean taste – a salad that would be sure to please many palates. This one did it – it totally won me over.

Despite my original interest, then my resistance, I would recommend Ani Phyo’s Raw Food Essentials to anyone interested in learning about raw food. You do not need any fancy equipment to get started, but having a dehydrator would definitely make raw cuisine much easier to prepare. In fact, I just started looking for that dehydrator – stay tuned for more raw recipes on Veganacious Recipes blog in the future!

The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of the East by M. Reinfeld and J. Murray

Thursday, October 7th, 2010

Lately I have been discovering an entire library  of amazing vegan cookbooks. It seems that when a cookbook that at first glance disappoints, I later discover some other wonderful trait about the book that redeems it.  This is so true for The 30 Minute Vegan’s Taste of the East.  My personal perference is to have photos that are as well done as the recipes they portray, and have them right with or in the neighborhood of those recipes. I also admit to having a strong personal preference for high quality paper – thick, glossy and/or substantial pages that feel like you are holding a work of art, not just a cookbook. Reinfeld and Murray’s book is a perfect-sized paperback, just right to hold and large enough to give you what you need, but the photos and paper quality are not top notch. Nonetheless, the book is a pleasure to use, due to those redeeming qualities to which I alluded earlier.

First of all, the recipes are organized by country: Thailand, Japan, India, China, and Asian fusion.  Each recipe stays within the 30 minute prepartion time, but may give you an option if you have more time to spare. This is a tremendous help in this era of busy schedules. After all, it takes over 30 minutes to drive to a restaurant and order! Each recipe lets you now how many it will serve and gives a careful listing of ingredients.  Following each recipe is an idea for variations, pertinent information, or other helpful ideas. Each chapter also includes information about ingredients frequently used in recipes from that particular country or area. At the end of the book is information: cooking charts for grains and dried beans, conversion charts, vegan information, a glossary, and a slew of vegan resources such as informative publications, books and websites.

The first recipe I tried was the Terikyaki Tofu. Someone stopped by my house and was incredulous at the wonderful aroma of the baking tofu cutlets wafting through the air. This was a simple and wonderfully tasty treat that I will be sure to try again. Next I made the Daikon Carrot Salad, a raw salad that comes together easily and kept well in the refrigerator (although not for long — it disappeared quickly). Dressed with sesame oil, lemon juice, soy sauce, vinegar and mirin, it is a nice balance for some of the other Japanese food whose recipes are presented within this book. I then went to the Korean  (Asian fusion) section of the book to try Kim Chi – an easy recipe that you ferment on your countertop for a few days. There is an enticing recipe for Green Papaya Salad, a regular in our neighborhood, from the Thailand section. And in the Indian section, there is a great Mulligatawny recipe along with traditional Dal and curry recipes.

This book has led me to place the most bookmarks within it of any cookbook I have tried this year; I am sure it will be a well-used book. The ease of following the recipes, the nature of the recipes (in alignment with how I like to eat), and commitment to staying with the 30 minute framework are all on the plus side. Additionally, there are recipes for Samosas that include making the filling ahead so that they can be prepared quickly, a great idea of how to include more complex meals when time is short. And there is even a recipe for Mochi Treats, something made with rice flour that I used to love to eat – lightly sweet, slightly gooey, and thoroughly wonderful. When time is limited and you want to try something new and Asian, reach for Mark Reinfeld and Jennifer Murray’s wonderful cookbook. Whether you have experience with Asian cuisine or want to learn more about foods from the East, this is one you are sure to enjoy again and again.

Lauren Ulm’s Vegan Yum Yum, the Book

Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Lauren Ulm is the amazingly creative young woman who created one of the most beautiful food blogs on the net. Her photography is breathtaking, her artistry is apparent, and her recipes are solid and reliable.  She has generously shared her talents with the universe on her blog, and now has moved into book publishing, so it is no surprise her first cookbook is a work of art.  I always appreciate cookbooks that have photos of the recipe on the same page as the recipe, but her cookbook unsurprisingly takes it to the next level – the recipe is superimposed on a full-page photo, for glorious, beautiful effect. Each page is high gloss and the cover is no less appealing. The dimensions are a tiny bit smaller in width, making it easy to handle. Despite its high quality color and photos, the price is about the same or slightly less than most of the cookbooks (paperback) that are out there. (For a view of her creativity, check out these cupcakes she made for her knitting group.)

Beautiful Presentation and Clear Directions Make Vegan Yum Yum a Delight

If you are familiar with Lauren’s website, you will be aware of the lengths she goes to explain every step of the recipe making process, including series of photos. That is true in her cookbook as well, with numerous photos documenting just how to wrap dolmas or onigiris. And Lauren has included many ethnic recipes in the mix, such exotic recipes as Miniature Napoleons with Eggplant Creme, Thai Tea with Fresh Coconut, and Chana Samosa. The organization is super easy, with Breakfast and Brunch, Main Dishes, Appetizers, Salads, Side Dishes and Light Meals, Soups, Pasta, Desserts, and Drinks, ending with Sauces, Dips and Spreads.

When I first picked up this cookbook, I looked at it appreciatively, then put it back on the shelf. I did not see much that I thought I would actually make. Whenever I receive a cookbook (or look to purchase one), I usually peruse the book in search of appealing recipes as a starting point. Generally, I like to try at least three recipes before I decide how much I will use the book and how much I will appreciate it. For Vegan Yum Yum, the first recipe I tried was Weekend Pancakes Made Easy. It is, as duly noted, a super easy recipe, blender ready in only minutes, and near perfection in texture and taste. In fact, it was so quick and easy we enjoyed these tasty treats on a regular weekday with time to spare in scooting off to school.

Exotic Vegan Recipes and Just Plain Comfort Food Combine in Lauren Ulm’s Book

Next was Dal Makhani, a rich and comforting food that has just enough spice to keep it interesting, but not so much that it won’t appeal to a wide audience. Containing red lentils, raw cashews, cinnamon, cardamom and many other ingredients, this one came together more easily than I expected and not a speck was left. Served with cashew creme, it almost tastes a bit decadent. Like the Weekend Pancakes, it will be a regular at our house. The Banana Bread with Spelt turned out beautifully and was a real hit with our favorite banana bread enthusiast, age ten. But for my taste, it was a tiny bit dry – Lauren warns us to add a little liquid if we are not used to using spelt. This one was more bread, where I prefer banana breads that are very moist and bit more like a moist brownie.

Another interesting take on a traditional tomato soup is Spicy Tomato Chickpea Soup. This one has a plethora of great spices and the chickpea give it some heft and substance, not to mention a good dose of protein, too. Currently, the British Lemon Maple Scones with Clotted Cream (Earth Balance and Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese) are in the mix. This recipe covers three pages, with four glorious photos showing the reader how they should look, how they are cut, and how they are glazed. I can already imagine how they will taste, these sweet biscuits with a sweetened creamy center and fresh berries on top – and to think I once walked away from this book. Shame on me.

Vegan Yum Yum is Worth a Second Look

This is the one when I want something different, or exotic, or spectacular. This is for moods. This is that treat I give myself for getting a podcast out the door and or give the family just because I love them. If you never cook, this is the one to have on hand just to enjoy the photos and to show non-vegans how the other half (okay, 1%) live. At least pick it up and look at it. Now really look at the recipes – see, they aren’t all that difficult are they? And with Lauren Ulm at the helm, who knows what miracles you might create?

The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook by Neal Barnard, M.D. and Robyn Webb

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

I have a stack of beautiful cookbooks to review; some are glorious examples of vegan cookery, with gorgeous photos and thick, luxurious pages.  When I first opened The Get Healthy, Go Vegan Cookbook, it seemed rather lackluster in comparison. The pages are not high quality and the photos are just a few, thrown into the center of the book — not my favorite style of cookbook. I prefer the photos to be right next to the recipes and I really appreciate a good thick page.  But I dove in anyway, and tried a few of the recipes to see what this book would offer.

First of all, each recipe includes nutritional information, which is very helpful. There is also a “Did You Know” section on many pages, filled with interesting facts of use to the vegan cook.  The recipes are clearly presented and very easy to follow.  Best of all, I was pleasantly surprised by the recipes I tried – I loved them!  The first one I tried was the pizza crust; I had just tried one with regular flour and feared this one, which has whole wheat flour in it, might be a bit tough. It was anything but – pleasantly crispy and very tasty, and simple to make as well. First happy surprise.

The second dish I tried was the Toasty Tortilla Soup.  With onions, garlic, diced tomatoes, squash, corn and kidney beans, it is a delicious mixture. I added a dose of hot sauce to spice things up, but the suggested topping of toasted tortillas was wonderful.  I made enough for leftovers and never got tired of it, it was that good. Surprise number two.

Next to try was the Stuffed Cabbage recipe.  This is much quicker to prepare than I would have thought. It includes onions, tomato paste, crushed walnuts, lentils, rice and wonderful spices all rolled into a steamed cabbage leaf and rolled up.  This is a great recipe for parties or potlucks because it may be prepared beforehand and reheats very well. To boost the nutritional punch, the recipe suggests using red cabbage and gives the nutritional differences (increased vitamins A and C and pigments called anthocyanins, which protect against cancer).

The beginning of the book has information about tailoring your diet to your health goals, whether that is slimming down, avoiding high glycemic food,or lowering cholesterol. There is information about fiber, digestion, and chronic diseases. There is also basic information about the ingredients and types of food that are included in the recipes, and supportive information for making a change to a healthier, vegan diet. There is even a three day menu plan in the last chapter of the book. The appendix includes an easy shopping list, convenience foods, and a metric conversion chart – all very useful.

I checked online and, while the list price is about the same as most paperback cookbooks ($18.95), Amazon had it listed for only $11.99. If you have reason to watch your nutritional intake, this just might be a good cookbook to add to your collection.  I would have overlooked this cookbook had it not been sent to me; and I still have another half dozen recipes bookmarked to try later this month. I guess it is the old saying, “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” or in this case, its pages.  While it is not the most lovely book in my collection, I have a feeling it will be well-used.

The Vegan Table by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

If anyone has heard Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s wonderful podcast, you are well aware of her congeniality, her positive approach to vegan education, and her courage to help the world face the ugly truth about what is happening to animals.  Well known for her first cookbook, The Joy of Vegan Baking, Colleen has surpassed even that remarkable standard in vegan cookbooks with the addition of her new book on entertaining.  Like Colleen herself, this new cookbook is filled with helpful ideas; it is like having a lovely visit with the compassionate Colleen.  “Compassionate Cooks’ Tip,”  “Food Lore”, and “Did You Know” segments are scattered throughout the book. There is even nutritional information included following each recipe. The pictures are plentiful and stay with the recipe, rather than being inserted in the center of the book, making it easy to see how things are supposed to appear and glance to see how much trouble each recipe is to create. The paper is high quality and the size is just right, a large square paperback with over 300 pages of recipes and entertainment suggestions.  Even if you only use the book to create four or five meals, it would be worth the reasonable price of the cookbook.

The beautiful presentation of the food is a bonus, too.  With entertaining, we always want something that is pretty well fool-proof and looks grand as well as being tasty and appealing.  I tried her pizza dough recipes and made the marinara sauce for starters. The pizza was very easy and with her tips on checking for viability of the yeast (I keep a jar on hand because I bake so much), it was a touchdown. I made her marinara sauce, too, which was simple to make and tasted great, although I wanted to add something to it for a pizza topping. With pasta – terrific.  I also tried her baked falafels – the greasiness of most falafel recipes turned me off in the past, but these were simple and easy to make. They have a little kick to them, too, which I loved.  Tucked into a pita bread with lettuce and tomatoes, they made a most satisfying and beautiful lunch.

After perusing the cookbook, I found I had so many pages bookmarked to try that it will take me til Christmas to get them all made.  Colleen has ample ethnic cuisine offered, including kugels, risotto, masoor dal, lasagna, latkes, timbales, spring rolls, and Swedish meatless balls. Tips for entertaining are plentiful and very useful, as well as complete menus for different types of entertaining. Organized by the type of entertainment as well as by season, it is an easy book to maneuver. With articles on The Intimacy of Food and Creating a Romantic Dinner as well as helpful ideas for the vegan cook as well as those who are hosting vegans, it is overflowing with good ideas.  It is one I know I will be returning to again and again over the years. And, I still have to try the Beet Bundt Cake, the Elegantly Simple Stuffed Bell Peppers, the Peanut Butter and Jelly Cookies, the Flourless Chocolate Tart, the Lavendar Lemonade… .

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

After hearing much, both positive and negative, about Jonathan Safran Foer’s recent book, Eating Animals, I was delighted to finally get the opportunity to read this acclaimed book.  Foer is a gifted writer who grabs your attention and keeps you engaged. He uses several creative methods to illustrate his points, such as using five pages of printed letters to represent the number of animals used for food by the average American in their lifetime (21,000 animals) — would anyone want to be responsible for that many deaths? But Foer also goes on to document what he uncovered in years of investigation about the brutality of turning living, breathing, feeling beings into a macabre disassembly line of death. He uncovers the cruelty in the system, the sick and diseased animals that are forced to live bleak lives in their own filth. He clearly sees the depersonalization that must exist for humans to turn nonhumans into units of profit. He understands the rivers of blood that are let flow daily to assuage the global demand for flesh, a demand that is increasing.

Foer is a talented writer. He is creative and does an admirable job of gathering a large array of material. It is difficult not to be in awe of his writing, so artfully has he crafted this book. Honestly, I was riveted throughout the reading, even when I was disappointed in the attitude he espoused. As a writer, Jonathan Safran Foer is a unique talent. I admire that immensely.

Yet somehow, with all of that, there is much that Foer misses. He seems to romance the happy meat farms where men, still objectifying animals for profit, do so with less cruelty than factory farms. But in the end, there is still a major deception at work here, and some of it is self-deception as well.  This is evident within the words of turkey farmer Frank Reese, who relates that his birds look at him as if he is betraying them when he sends them off.  The birds are right; he is. He is doing it and trying to feel good about it because their brief childhoods were less toxic than they would have been in other facilities (but still fall far short of what their life could have been had they not been commodities). Of course, those other facilities are nothing short of institutionalized horror, plain and simple, so that isn’t much of a recommendation. He pretends to love his birds; he obviously enjoys their company. But in the end, he betrays them and sends them off to a horrible end, of which he spares himself the sight. He is still trafficking in death for profit, no matter how hard Foer tries to paint him with angelic imagery.

Here is what Foer’s books misses and questions he never asks:

Is it okay to use animals for human purposes as long as they are not abjectly cruelly used and killed? Does the animal himself have any right to exist? Is there any intrinsic value to the animal? Who determines if humans are the only beings of worth, and how can that be when we are the worst, cruelest, most selfish and destructive beings on the planet?


Gristle Edited by Moby with Mihuna Park

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

When I heard that Moby was softening his message, I grew concerned. I am aware that most celebrities do not understand how their support of institutions like the Humane Society (HSUS) amd PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) are counter-productive to ending animal exploitation. Moby does a lot for the vegan community; he donates music to upcoming filmmakers and makes pro-vegan videos for YouTube. He advocates for veganism. He is talented, creative and likable. By his own admission, he has decided that he was too “militant,” too strident in promoting veganism, and it was turning his friends off. In his new book, Gristle, written along with Miyun Park, he presents a series of essays and lets the audience decide for themselves. No more preaching for Moby, just the facts.

The first essay was by Branden Brazier, author of Thrive Fitness, Thrive Nutrition, triathlete, and vegan advocate. So far, so good – I was glad to see Brazier included. He advocates not only for veganism but for high-density nutrition and brings some often overlooked foods to the fore. He puts an emphasis on the recovery phase of training and has achieved great personal and financial success in so doing. He promotes fitness from a vegan perspective – and lives what he preaches. There is Christine Chavez and Julie Chavez Rodriguez, who make a case for the workers in the factory farm industries, most of whom have coughs, chronic bronchitis and/or respiratory problems due to the toxic air quality in which they work.  The workers die in horrific ways,as do the animals they kill: sliced by the hog-splitter saw, death by falls into manure pits, crushed by the grinder. Amputations. Crushed bones. Mental stress. A disassembly line that brutalizes animals in mechanized horror while spewing blood, disease and depression on the workers and their families.  Important things to know about an industry, indeed.

But other authors are not quite as hopeful. John Mackay, founder and CEO of Whole Foods Markets, Incorporated – a man who himself makes money from the sale of animal flesh; Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of HSUS, an organization that owns stock in some of the worst animal exploitation industries and benefits financially from animal exploitation; Paul and Phyllis Willis, owner of the Willis Free-Range Pig Farms, also financially benefitting from the exploitation and commodification of animals. If this is the new Moby, I would prefer the old — the one that believed in veganism and would not hesitate to speak out for it.

Despite the fact that this book does not promote veganism, the book has lots of statistics and information easily assembled for the use of the reader. The cover has an outline of a steer carved into those dotted lines which so often delineate cuts of “beef,” only this time they say things like: health, animals, workers, environment, global hunger, zoonotic diseases, climate change, communities, taxpayer cost. It is a book that may attract someone to pick it up and that might become more informed about what is going on with animal agriculture. I found the book helpful, if disappointing.

When one’s friends call on us to sacrifice our core beliefs, maybe it is time to get some new friends.