Reviewed by Richard Lord
High School Biology Teacher
Many middle and high school students consider challenging themselves to adopt a diet that is not focused on animals. This simple and informative book can help them decide if vegetarianism is right for them.
There are a variety of reasons why people choose to be vegetarians. A plant–based diet is healthful, it is ecologically beneficial to eat lower on the food chain, and for some it is a cultural or religious tradition. Vegetarians are grouped into six types: Ovo–lacto vegetarians eat no meat, but eat eggs and dairy; ovo vegetarians eat eggs but no meat or dairy; lacto vegetarians eat dairy foods but no meat or eggs; pesci–vegetarians eat fish but no other meat; flexitarians eat meat occasionally, and vegans eat no animal products at all.
The book is focused on the ovo–lacto vegetarian lifestyle. Disadvantages of eating meat—higher saturated fat and cholesterol and the possibility that it can harbor toxins, antibiotics, hormones and E. coli—are clearly stated. It is also noted that raising animals is a threat to forest land, uses massive amounts of water, contributes to climate change, and often involves mistreatment when animals are raised for food.
Practical advice is offered to prospective vegetarians.They should take one step at a time, know why they are adopting a vegetarian lifestyle, and be prepared to compromise, check food labels, map out a meal schedule, avoid vegetarian junk food and, perhaps most importantly, respect those who have chosen not to be vegetarians. There is an explanation of how various nutrients are needed by the body and the plant sources that are rich in those nutrients. It is made clear that going vegetarian is an individual choice. Each person who wants to eat less meat must draw the line wherever s/he desires.
The book is concise, enlightening, and full of stunning photography. It could easily be read from cover to cover in a short time. There are several recipes for vegetarian dishes, a short glossary, a list of print and online resources, and an index. The information is fair and balanced with none of the rigid and preachy bias that is sometimes typical of articles and books on vegetarianism. It would be appropriate for middle and high school health or biology classes as part of a nutrition unit. But, since any student considering vegetarianism would find the book useful, it would be a valuable addition to a school or classroom library.
Review posted on 10/10/2012