on August 31, 2007
Okay, I guess I should start off by saying that I am a proud vegan. I love my diet for its health and environmental benefits and would recommend it to anyone.
That said, I kind of shudder to think that someone with no prior exposure to a vegan lifestyle is getting their introduction through this book. Yeah, I can handle the bad language, but they are so abusive to the reader. A few reviewers talk about the "girlfriend" tone. If any of my girlfriends talked like that to me, I'd be really upset!!
Yes, veganism is a way of losing weight - but it is not the only way of losing weight. I was a healthy weight as a carnivore, as a lacto-ovo vegetarian, and as a vegan. Going vegan has not caused me to lose a single pound. Portion control is almost the most important factor, and the menus near the end of the book don't include portions at all. They do include lists of suggested natural food products, including many prepared foods, like TV dinners. While I love some of the products listed, is over-reliance on these kinds of foods something that the authors want to encourage? Not all of them are really all that healthy. Vegan junk food is still junk food.
There is other factual information that just seems...wrong. The authors suggest donating blood as a way of helping others and losing weight. Losing weight? Excuse me? I call bull, just for the simple reason if that were true, I would have heard about it already and the American Blood Association would be using it as a way to get people to donate.
Also, the authors seem to endorse the philosophy that everything that ails you can be traced to diet. You shouldn't take aspirin for menstrual cramps because your cramps are just the result of your crappy diet. And they are also Nature's way of preparing you for the pain of childbirth. First, which one is it? (Result of crappy diet or natural process?) Second, this sounds dubious at best - ask any woman who's given birth if they thought it was easy because they had good "practice" from having had menstrual cramps. Third, some people have jobs, unlike the authors of this book, and actually need to be functional during their periods, instead of being in so much pain they can't even work. Not everyone who takes pain relievers is a "pill popper". Not everything natural is good for you. Not all your health problems are because of diet. Sometimes you really do need to see a doctor and take medicine.
I feel bad for really not liking this book, because it is getting a lot of attention, including from non-vegans. I just wish the authors of this book did a little more research and were a little less confrontational.
on May 24, 2008
It's sad that anyone would take their advice.
I have no issue with veganism. Veganism is fine. I was a vegetarian for several years and didn't eat red meat for several more after that. I couldn't do the vegan thing, but I appreciate that some people do want to eat that way, and I think there are some good reasons to limit or eliminate meat and dairy consumption. What I have a problem with is the language that the authors use in the book to try to convince people to eat vegan - and I'm not talking about the profanity. You see, in addition to being an ex-vegetarian, I am also in recovery from an eating disorder. And so much of the language in this book is exactly the kind of thing I would say to myself to convince myself not to eat, when I was at the worst point in my illness and trying to eat less than 600 calories a day, while at the same time exercising 3-4 hours a day.
It's a lot easier not to eat when you convince yourself that what's on your plate is disgusting - that it is rotting, filled with pus, decomposing, etc. Who would want to eat a horrible plate of rotting meat, right? If you can look at your plate and see filth rather than tasty food, it's easy not to eat it. It's easier to not eat when you constantly tell yourself that you're fat, lazy, worthless, stupid, etc. if you eat. Because if you can make the self-criticism stop by not eating - if you can feel virtuous and clean and okay by not eating, and have the relentlessly critical voices stop for a little while, and have some peace from your own anxiety and tension - then not eating becomes an easier and easier thing to do, over time. I didn't hear two angry vegans speaking in this book. I heard two women who have major food and body issues that they've never addressed. A lot of people have objections about the authors calling other people fat, stupid, etc. - you have to understand that is not the authors talking about other people. Those are the voices they hear inside their heads, every single day, telling them that THEY are stupid, THEY are worthless, THEY are bad if they stray from this very strict diet they have devised. That's exactly what happens when people have an eating disorder. Ultimately, it is NOT about food or losing weight, it is about control. By limiting what they eat to this very narrow selection of foods, they can maintain or take back control they don't feel they have normally. As an ex-anorexic friend of mine said, this book is awesome for people in the throes of the disease because it basically gives you permission to food-restrict and negatively self-talk all you want, two of the behaviors that therapists try to eliminate in eating-disorder patients.
I truly believe this book is not about veganism. This book is about how to practice a special brand of anorexia in which you view food as evil and avoid putting it into your body, but you still eat enough of certain things to avoid criticism from friends and family, under the guise of this pro-animal-rights philosophical viewpoint. The language they use is very similar to the language you see on pro-anorexia websites maintained by women whose goal is to trade tips for how not to eat and reinforce each other's philosophy and behavior. Those websites have the same "us against the world" and "other people think we're crazy but we're doing the right thing" tone. If you want to be vegan, that's great, but this is not the book to read. Because this is way more about the psychology of eating disorders than it is about good reasons to be vegan. This book is about how to be a vegan with a very twisted relationship with food. There are other books out there that can help you be a healthy vegan, who has a healthy relationship with food, and with your own body.
There's one other thing I want to say about the book. Vegan diets work great for some people in terms of weight loss. For other people, eating large quantities of fruit (high in sugar) and soy (high in phytoestrogens and endocrine disruptors) can cause big problems and would not result in weight loss. I have PCOS and the diet prescribed in this book is exactly what my nutritionist and physician have told me NOT to eat. If you have PCOS, or an existing thyroid condition, PLEASE talk to an endocrinologist before adopting the eating plan in this book. Did you know that soy ice cream has a higher glycemic index rating than pure glucose? If you have blood-sugar issues or hypothyroidism, soy products are very problematic. There's also evidence (that these authors don't discuss) linking soy to hormonal imbalances and cancer. Women with breast or thyroid cancer, or who are at high risk for those cancers, are usually counseled to avoid soy.
In any case - this is honestly not a diet book, or at least not one that people should be taking advice from. I have struggled with my weight my whole life (due in part to the fact that my PCOS went undiagnosed for years). I would love to lose weight but I also think part of the goal of living is to be a happy person. The kind of negative self-talk the authors encourage under the guise of "straight talk" does not lead to happiness, I can testify from experience. There is a huge problem with obesity in this country, but we aren't going to solve it by having people develop extremely negative relationships with food. This book gave me the chills because it reads so much like stories girls in my therapy group told about how they talked to themselves, to convince themselves to stop eating. It was disturbing to me, and it's even more disturbing to me that thousands of women out there are taking it as the gospel truth.
on February 13, 2008
As a person who has a biology degree with a focus on nutrition, an advanced biology teacher, vegetarian, and a marathoner/triathlete, I was interested to read a book that may give me strategies to use myself and to interest my students in eating better. This book started well and then changed courses quickly. The scientific evidence in this book is just WRONG. It is riddled with inconsistencies and hypocrisies including that you shouldn't eat meat because it is rotting flesh and vegetables are living when you eat them. Unless you are eating them off of the plant, vegetables are also dead and decaying (look what happens to fruits and vegetables when they are not eaten in a timely fashion). They also say that you shouldn't eat processed foods, which I totally agree with, but then go on to advocate for veggie/vegan products that taste like meat which are incredibly processed but according to them are still good because they are vegan. With a statement of " A no-nonsense, tough-love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating crap and start looking fabulous!" you would have thought it would be all about good things to eat and how to exercise to lose weight. Not so, this is just a manifesto on how bad the meat industry is and how bad the government is. This book actually made me angry because I didn't buy this book to be inundated with these two women's opinions about the government and their dislike of all meat products. This book is not worth the money or time unless you want to read two women's rants about how everyone should be vegan.
on June 11, 2009
And I have to say, this book is the biggest piece of hate-filled garbage ever to grace vegan and vegetarian literature. First of all, I work in the medical field, and most of their so-called health claims aren't even true. In fact, most of what they try to tell the young women they're targeting is incredibly dangerous -- the book basically encourages eating disorders and body hatred, and eventually gets around to, "Oh hey, by the way, animals get abused, too!" But by that time, you already hate your body and want to go to the back shed and shoot yourself in the head. I would not recommend this book to anyone; it's basically a do-it-yourself guide on how to hide an eating disorder and hate yourself, which is not, or should not be, what veganism is about.
(It's also worth mentioning that although the authors say "if you eat crap, you are crap," their cookbooks are filled with processed, disgusting food that can only be described as crap. But I guess in that way, Freedman and Barnouin are for once being honest with us about what they are.)
on July 17, 2008
There are so many things wrong with this book I barely know where to begin. I thought the review below mine covered much of what I wanted to say.
Let's begin with this: the authors rant quite a bit against modern medicine, specifically over-the-counter pain medicines like Tylenol and Advil. They say that "Cramps suck" and then tell us "cramps are supposed to suck" and that the purpose of cramps is to ready our bodies for the pain of NATURAL CHILDBIRTH, and therefore, when we take pain killers to mask the pain of cramps, we are screwing ourselves over (only they don't use the word "screwing").
Seriously. Do you need any further reason to NOT read this book? What's next -- NATURAL dentistry?
When I first picked it up, I confess, I was delighted and amused. The authors drop the f-bomb within the first few paragraphs. They call diet soda a "chemical spill sh-tstorm". The book jacket and attitude of the authors made it seem easy to lose weight, as if the so-called "difficulty" of being "skinny" is all in our minds. Be skinny? No problem!
Then I got to the part where they started on the REAL message of the book. It's not a diet book, folks. It's not about losing weight or even being healthy.
This book is a Vegan Manifesto.
The whole purpose and reason for this book is for the authors to spout their own political views about food and food production. When I got to the page where they say we as humans are biologically not supposed to eat meat simply because we do not have the claws or teeth to hunt and kill like carnivores, my jaw dropped open. Because we as humans have to use tools (weapons) to hunt, this "proves" we are intended by nature to be herbivores. In two paragraphs the authors dismissed 150 years of research in evolutionary biology. Obviously the authors are NOT physical anthropologists. You don't need a degree in that subject to see for yourself how wrong they are -- all you need to do is look at your own teeth. Humans, like many primates, are OMNIVORES, not vegetarians. We have molars for chewing vegetation, yes, but we also have incisors for ripping into food and WE HAVE CANINE TEETH, specifically designed for eating meat.
The authors also dismiss the biological component of Homo sapiens that our species has used for thousands of years to hunt successfully -- OUR BRAIN. Perhaps it's because they've never used theirs.
Despite this, I kept reading. As the book went on, I just could not believe what I was reading. If the book is intended to be about "diet" then why are there 3 chapters about food production and animal slaughter?
I cannot even recommend this book to anyone considering veganism. This book is not simply about choosing to be a vegan -- this book is about HOW TO HAVE AN EATING DISORDER.
The authors are not skinny because they are vegan. They are thin because they have a couple of full blown eating disorders, and if you want to look like them, you need one too. Like those suffering from ED, the authors demonize whole food groups as "bad". If you ingest any of these foods, you are "fat" and "disgusting". If you eat meat, then you are fat and disgusting, and you have "dead carcass rotting" away in your guts.
Despite study after study demonstrating that people who eat breakfast lose more weight and keep it off, and that food in the morning is needed to charge the body's metabolism, the authors tell the reader to put off eating breakfast -- to enjoy the "clean" and "light" feeling one gets from starving oneself. The longer you can put off eating, the better. Only when the hunger pangs are too hard to bear, are you, the reader, to eat ONE piece of organic fruit. If you cannot stand the hunger, you are allowed one more piece and then, if you must, a third, but the goal is to reduce your food intake to one piece of fruit for breakfast. To these authors, food is bad, and if you are weak enough to be hungry, then YOU are bad too.
This whole book is disgusting. How can I blame the authors -- the lack of food has affected their brains. But the publishers should be strung up for printing and distributing it. I have always been again censorship, but if ever there was a reason for a book burning, this book is it. Don't read it and DON'T let your daughter read it.
If you are interested in food production and where our food comes from, I recommend What To Eat, by Marion Nestle, who teaches nutrition at Columbia University in New York. That's a reputable book by a reputable author, with actual research behind it. If you are interested in veganism, there are many good books out there, and I recommend the blog Vegan Lunch Box (google it). If you are interested in losing weight, I recommend almost anything else.
on April 28, 2008
While there is some important information that apparently millions of people don't seem to know about how cruelly animals are treated as they are being raised for food, the authors seem to think it's totally okay to be mean and cruel to their own kind, and especially women.
If you've read the other reviews, you already know this is book is a vegan extremist soapbox disguised as a book about getting skinny. My diet is typically vegan, so obviously I do not take offense with that particular aspect of this book. What I do find appalling is the way the author's disrespect, degrade, and otherwise shame the reader. They are clearly ignorant of many important facts about women and womens' bodies. The most glaring evidence of that for me, is that they claim that women are SUPPOSED to experience pain during menstruation and childbirth, so just shut up and deal with it. I find this to be a discompassionate, patriarchal view that is damaging enough to disregard the entire rest of the book. The information on veganism is easily found in many other books, or online.
For those women who think childbirth should be painful, google "ecstatic birth". And if your menstrual cramps are that painful, take a calcium supplement, it works like magic. If you are interested in radiant health, treating animals compassionately and a trim body, read just about any other book on the planet about veganism.
However, if you *enjoy* verbal abuse and that motivates you, this book is definitely for you.
on May 2, 2012
I bought this book years ago, then rediscovered it much later while cleaning out my closet. In the meantime, I'd become a vegetarian, avid locovore, and possibly even a foodie. When I flipped through the book again, I was disgusted. This book is not about veganism, the environment, or nutrition. The "sassy girlfriend tone" isn't tough love, it's self-hatred. GadgetChick's review hit the nail on the head - the bitchin' language is the language of pro-ana websites, and that self-hatred is reflected in a very twisted relationship with food.
The science in this book veers between tough-to-swallow truths about America's food industry, bizarre wishful thinking and outright lies. Other reviewers have already done a good job of separating truth from fiction. But why bother picking your way through this nonsense when there are much better books out there? For a balanced and and insightful treament of America's agriculture industry, read Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma. For great vegetarian and vegan recipes, read Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.
Honestly, I don't have anything new to add that other reviewers haven't already said. I'm just writing this for the sake of adding another one-star rating. If I could give this book negative stars, I would.
on May 20, 2009
As somebody who has been vegan for over 10 years I am flabbergasted at the inconsistencies, pseudoscience, misinformation and vulgar hyperbole of this book. It's a big black eye for veganism and I'm appalled such a book would co-opt veganism to make a quick buck like this. Do yourself a favor and skip this book and any other in the series these women are churning out.
on August 6, 2013
I found this book on my sister's bookshelf. She is anorexic, and books like this one have led her to the conclusion that she should loathe herself as long as she's not a so-called "skinny bitch".
As many other people have pointed out in their reviews, "Skinny Bitch" is based on poor scientific knowledge and though it comes disguised as a guide to weight loss and healthy eating, it is basically about veganism. However, it's been so successful because it creates an image of being 'playful', 'funny' and 'shockingly honest' in the sense that the authors dare you to become a "skinny bitch" - *giggle, giggle*, "It's so dangerous and emancipated of them to call it that, isn't it?"
No, it's not. It's disgraceful and sad. It makes this book part of an ideology conveying the idea that to be an empowered, tough woman, a "bitch", you need to be skinny and condescending towards people who are not skinny. Any woman who is not skinny must, according to the authors' logic, loathe herself and could never be a "tough bitch". While the authors are trying to convince you that this is part of the emancipated lifestyle of empowered women and "Sex and the City" girls, this book is in fact deeply reactionary and misogynist, making women feel like the key to success and self-esteem is still, first and foremost, their bodies.
There are sentences like "Don't be a fat pig anymore" in this book. How can Freedman and Barnouin be so protective about animals in their book, and at the same time insult women so openly? This book is pathetic and harmful, and as my sister's case shows, it is very effective in teaching you how to loathe and destroy yourself.
on August 27, 2009
I am already a "skinny bitch" who eats healthy, happens to be a vegan, and has worked out for my entire life. I picked up this book, not because I was looking for diet advice but because it had received outstanding reviews and after reading the first couple pages I found it to be highly entertaining. There is a lot of profanity, tough love, and crass writing style, wich I enjoy. I figured if I learned something that would be a plus.
However, that lasts for 39 pages until the preaching started. As I stated I am a vegan, I became a vegan for the same reason the authors stated, and I already know about the horrible living conditions, torture, and killing of animals meant for food in the US. But I don't think that information should have appeared in this book and I certainly don't think it should have taken up pages 39-114 when the book is only 200 pages long. There were about 7 pages of horrific quotes from a book called "Slaughterhouse" that go into graphic detail about the mistreatment of animals. The authors bash the FDA, USDA, EPA, as well as anyone involved with the US meat, dairy, and egg industry. At one point they even tell you to write your congressman. I just wanted to give future readers a heads up because, as I stated, a substantial portion of the book is preaching for you to give up meat and animal derived products or you won't be skinny. I was thin before (because I ate a healthy balanced diet and worked out) and I'm still thin as a vegan. As Tracey stated I thought the book was very misleading.