Monday, July 26, 2010

Meatless Monday Book List

Although I'm meatless everyday, not just Mondays, I think this is a great initiative. If everyone ate meatless just one day a week it could have great environmental impact. And it might let people know that in fact, meatless eating is easy, healthy and very satisfying. So, in honour of Meatless Monday, I'm pulling an old post from the archives and re-sharing it here. Check out their site for lots of great recipe ideas and inspiration!

Aspects of Vegetarianism from May 23, 2008:

Dewey's latest challenge, though I'm coming to it late, nearly at the end of the week, was to pick a social issue that you are interested in and post some relevant books on topic. They don't have to be books you've read; they can be ones you are simply interested in reading. I have chosen vegetarianism as my topic, as it is a big part of my life and has been for the past 15 years. Though it may not seem like a big deal, compared to things like human trafficking , I see many issues tied to being a vegetarian, all of which concern me. (and there are food-based reasons for child slavery) There are moral elements, the question of animal rights, of health, of environmental impact, of equitable distribution of the world's resources... so I'll point out a few books on a few of these subjects. These are some I like; there are countless others!

First up is one I have had on my TBR for a very long time, but have not sat down to systematically go through, yet. It's a look at the philosophy & ethics of vegetarianism:

It covers different related issues in each chapter, and gives a solid philosophical ground for abstaining from meat.

And then one from a more personal viewpoint, former cattle rancher Howard Lyman's Mad Cowboy. This is a fascinating look at how the conditions in commercial cattle farming led a fourth-generation rancher to become an evangelist for the vegetarian lifestyle. This is the writer whose book shocked Oprah and caused the infamous lawsuit brought by Texas cattle ranchers.

The Bloodless Revolution: a cultural history of Vegetarianism from 1600 to modern times / Tristram Stuart -- this is a book that I recently purchased and am loving. It should properly be called a history of vegetarianism IN ENGLAND however, as it's very British. But it's great fun, full of historical anecdotes that would make good dinner table conversation, plus it ties religion and empire, fashion, and aesthetic motivations into the many reasons for eating the meatless way.

Two books which can be depended on if you're interested in going vegetarian or even vegan for your health are Brenda Davis & Vesanto Melina's Becoming Vegetarian and Becoming Vegan. Both have tons of information to allay any family concerns that you're going to waste away to nothing, and to ensure that you are eating healthily and knowledgeably.

John Robbins' The Food Revolution is a good look at all of the issues you can have an effect upon simply by becoming vegetarian.
As the Publishers Weekly review of this one says,

What can we do to help stop global warming, feed the hungry, prevent cruelty to animals, avoid genetically modified foods, be healthier and live longer? Eat vegetarian, Robbins argues. Noting the massive changes in the environment, food-production methods, and technology over the last two decades, he lambastes contemporary factory-farming methods and demonstrates that individual dietary choices can be both empowering and have a broader impact. Robbins, heir to the Baskin-Robbins ice-cream empire (he rejected it to live according to his values), takes on fad diets, the meat industry, food irradiation, hormone and antibiotic use in animals, cruel animal husbandry practices, the economics of meat consumption, biotechnology and the prevalence of salmonella and E. Coli.

And just for fun, a vegetarian friendly novel which takes on the meat industry:My Year of Meats by Ruth Ozeki.

I really enjoyed this book when I first read it, as it features an American woman of Japanese descent who is hired to make a tv program featuring American meats, to air in the Japanese market. She is supposed to highlight All-American families cooking with beef, but ends up learning more and more and as a result moving farther and farther away from her instructions -- until the last family she highlights is a lesbian, vegetarian couple.


  1. What a marvelous post to recycle! As a vegetarian myself, I found Eating Animals incredibly upsetting but powerful (and it made me decide to commit to eating vegan). I also think Food Matters by Mark Bittman is a great book for omnivores...Bittman advocates eating vegan two meals a day and then doing whatever you want for dinner. While he lays out a variety of reasons, he also says he's not going to go into the animal rights issue because we all already know how wrong that is. I think that for omnivore readers who might get defensive, that's a great strategy. And if everyone decided to eat animal-free for two meals a day, we could really change things, you know?

  2. Ozeki's novel is great fun; I really enjoyed her second All Over Creation as well. I haven't read Saffon Foer's Eating Animals yet, but I'll get there. It's certainly heartening to see the ethical issues of what's on our plates considered more seriously and more multi-dimensionally than they have been even in recent years.


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