Thursday, June 03, 2010

Review: The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone

Long before I stopped eating meat (a year ago this past weekend), I started thinking a lot about how what I eat affects me and the world around me. It started with a desire to eat more locally grown and sourced foods, but it evolved into something bigger. As I read books like The Omnivore's Dilemma and Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I started to realize that I could choose the impact my meals have on the environment, as well as on my body.

The next logical step for me was, to the best of my ability, to eat meat that was sustainably, organically, and locally raised. And as the cost of this decision weighed on my budget, I decided that eating less and less meat might be a good idea. Eventually, meat dropped off my menu radar, and I've been OK with that for a year now. Especially after watching Food, Inc.

The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the PlanetWhen I heard about Alicia Silverstone's book, The Kind Diet, I figured it was right up my alley. In it, she shares the information and arguments that eventually convinced her to shift from a vegetarian diet to a vegan diet and then to what she calls The Superhero diet, her personalized version of a macrobiotic diet.

Part I of The Kind Diet is the rhyme and reason of eating a diet that is kind both to your body and to the earth. As I started reading Part I, I felt like Silverstone was preaching to the choir. I knew much of what she was telling me: that eating meat and animal products affects not only animals, but ultimately the environment, soil quality, fossil fuel consumption and more. But as I read more, I learned (or was reminded of) more. Silverstone isn't preachy. Her opinion on the subject is very clear, but she gives you the facts and plenty of information so that you can make your own educated decision. Throughout this first section, I found myself nodding along with her friendly encouragement, and even (*gasp*) considering trying a vegan diet for a month. (No Greek yogurt? No cheese? Yikes!)

Part II describes how you can begin "Living The Kind Life". Unlike other "diet" books, Silverstone doesn't encourage readers to jump into an extreme diet from the get-go. Instead, she describes how readers can "Flirt" with eating a kinder diet, begin going vegan, and then become a "superhero". She suggests you choose the plan that fits where you are now and give it a try. Then, as you get used to eating in a new way, you can increase your commitment, until eventually you're a Superhero. She makes giving up meat, fish, dairy products and processed foods seem simple, gradual, almost painless. Of course, she also encourages adding foods that are pleasing to your palate so that you don't miss those foods nearly as much. And she gives suggestions on ways that you can begin to make the shift toward kind eating if you're not ready to go all the way, and still see some of the positive effects.

Part III is a rather impressive collection of Vegan and Superhero recipes. I have to admit that I haven't tried any of the recipes yet, but I am looking forward to it. Who could resist the allure of vegan Peanut Butter Pie and Mixed Berry "Cheese"cake? And then there's the Risotto with Oyster Mushrooms, Leeks and Peas, and Rice Pilaf with Caramelized Onions. I'll be sure to share them with you once I get around to making them.

In the meantime, I'd recommend you check out The Kind Diet if you're interested in eating a more sustainable, healthier and, well, kinder diet.


Angie Ledbetter said...

Dropping by to say hey. It's been a while, but I hope to be visiting more regularly.

Congrats on your domain name!

Kayris said...

I saw a few minutes of an Oprah show with Alicia Silverstone one day. But while what she had to say sounded good, it wouldn't work in my house. Partly because meat is an easy way for me to manage my chronic anemia, but also because I have 2 kids that have somewhat limited palates. Instead, we try to buy grassfed beef when possible, and stay away from packaged/processed food as much as possible.

Ami said...

Kayris - It sounds like you do what you can to make sure you and your family is healthy. That's nothing to sneeze at. I certainly wouldn't suggest that The Kind Diet is for everyone. I totally agree that some of Silverstone's choices are extreme. But I think the sentiment behind them is a good one, and if the only change people make after reading The Kind Diet is to make more conscious choices about what they eat and where it comes from, that's still a success.

I guess I tend to take all books like this with a grain of salt. I read them with an open mind, but I also read them with the understanding that I don't need to agree completely for them to encourage positive change in my life.

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