on November 20, 2009
I got interested in reading The Kind Diet soon after reading the book written by Jonathan Safran Foer titled "Eating Animals". Foer really made me think and I decided to research the idea o vegan living. In the chapter about "Nasty Foods" Alicia Siverstone's observations about meat industry were in line with those of Mr. Foer. And she does a good job of backing her statements with well-conducted studies from reputable sources.
According to Alicia, in addition to meat, Nasty Foods include also dairy, refined sugar, and processed foods. These are the foods that we have to avoid in our daily diet. However, she realizes that it is very hard, if not impossible, for most people to just drop their normal nutritional habits and go totally vegan from one day to another. Therefore she suggests three levels of changing into Living in the Kind Life - from Flirting, via Going Vegan, to Becoming a Superhero.
Alicia insists that by eliminate harmful foods like meat, dairy, refined sugar and processed products, and enjoying an endless variety of deeply nourishing grains, vegetables and other delectable whole foods, you will live in agreement with nature and get rid of obesity problem that plagues the modern societies. By changing your eating habits and becoming vegan you will say good-bye to dieting once for all. And that's while enjoying "irresistibly sweet treats, you can eat every single day, forever."
I recently verified Alicia's statement on my recent trip to Central Europe. I discovered a restaurant chain called "Green Wave" that was serving plant foods only. Throughout the whole week I was consuming a variety of delicious meals not even once missing my traditional North American Big Burger.
By the end of the book Alicia provided some good (and some not so good) recipes of vegan meals. I suggest trying most of them to decide which ones suit you best. Keep in mind that you need to eat what's indigenous to the area to avoid stressing your body. This isn't a totally novel idea. The author of a great health/longevity book titled "Live 150 Years - Your Body Maintenance Handbook" is also a great proponent of living in agreement with nature and eating indigenous foods. If you check this book out, make sure to also read the chapters about obesity causes, and proper food combination.
TO SUMMARIZE: Plant-based diet is just about the greenest thing you can do. It requires less fuel, water, and other precious resources. It can also be the secret to your health, slim physique and radiant beauty. Enjoy the ride.
on January 16, 2010
I enjoyed reading The Kind Diet. It was an easy read. I enjoyed the author's descriptions of the vegan diet, the process by which one becomes vegan, and the various meal plans depending on which stage you're in. I've been Vegan for 3 months now so it was a great Christmas gift for me. Since buying the book I've tried numerous recipes and unfortunately most of them have disappointed me. The Daikon Rounds were ridiculously sweet, and the water measurement was way off. The Radicchio pizza was extremely bitter. Instead, it needed a little radicchio and a lot of something else. The porridge recipe, again the ratio of water to rice is way off. After cooking it exactly as directed there was still a lot of water left in the pot. I did however lower the ratio and the dish came out nicely. I've found most of the recipes have extreme flavors- very very sweet, very sour, or very bitter. It's been harsh on the palate. There are some winners though. My kids like the Crocodile Crunch and the Mochi Waffles. The cheesecake tasted like a lump of soy. I'm wondering if the author tasted all of these recipes before she decided to put them in her book. They all looked delicious. Very disappointing. I've made other recipes from Veganomicon and The Conscious Cook and so far I've loved every one of them.
on October 13, 2009
The title: The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet, by Alicia Silverstone, says it all. The plant-based diet, according to Silverstone (and a few doctors quoted) will improve your health, help prevent disease, improve the environment and help you lose weight.
The book begins with Silverstone's personal story. It includes her early attempts at not eating meat, and an unhealthy period when she ate only raw foods.
Then the book discusses the "nasty foods"--meat, dairy, white sugar and processed foods. We learn the many reasons these foods are unhealthy, bad for the planet and bad for animal's welfare.
Next, we learn what the "kind foos" are--notably, whole grains, new proteins, veggies and healthy desserts.
There is a chapter on nutritional FAQ's.
Silverstone gets we are not all ready for a vegan diet, especially if we are used to a diet heavy in meats, dairy and processed foods. So, she presents three levels: flirting, vegan and superhero.
In flirting, she makes recommendations like: go to a vegetarian restaurant and order a dish, buy some vegan products from her "Transitional food chart", and simply recommends we start adding vegan meals into our diets.
In vegan, she presents a plan on how to build a meal and a vegan meal plan.
Finally, the superhero level is loosely based on the macrobiotic diet (minus fish,) and features fresh, local and seasonal fare.
Silverstone adds helpful tips, like chew your food really well, what to do about detoxing and cravings and more.
There is a chapter on tips when away from home.
Lifestyle tips is a very short chapter, mentioning things like the importance of reusing and buying secondhand. I would recommend HARMONIOUS ENVIRONMENT: BEAUTIFY, DETOXIFY & ENERGIZE YOUR LIFE, YOUR HOME & YOUR PLANET to learn how to make your entire home green and beautiful for optimal health and it also describes how to eat healthy with recipes and cooking/shopping tips.
The book concludes with fantastic looking recipes (I'm a pretty good cook, I can always tell.) They recipes are divided into vegan and superhero.
Even if you are not committed to a full time vegan diet, I highly recommend this book--just start with the flirting and see where it takes you. If you do get into the vegan lifestyle, know that there are lots of good cookbooks out there to help.
on January 26, 2010
I received my book yesterday afternoon and read chapters 1 thru 9 last night. It was insightful and finding out what it takes to keep animals in stock for food, and what happens to male calfs (they become veal) and their few months on the planet vs. what happens to girl calfs becoming milkers, and the mom being shot up with hormones to produce endless milk is madness. There are many systems in this world that are cruel and just dont make sense. This morning I went through starbucks and ordered a green tea instead of decaffeinated coffee. ALicia's book helped me to start questioning "what is next" down the line. Okay, so I have my green tea, but now I have a papercup, if I purchased a reusable cup and rinsed it out and let it air dry, then my carbon foot print will be reduced by 365 cups a year.
I cooked the last of the ground turkey last night and had it for supper, Alicia recommends either giving it away or finishing what you have, no waste! I also baked a lot of brussel sprouts with olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper and that should last the remainder of the week. Tonight, I make the grains that Alicia talked about - for protein, and this morning I brought in a tomato and avocado for morning. Which is better than having nothing for breakfast, my normal routine. But ohhh, someone brought in donuts this morning. But I feel good. Because now that I know what processed sugars will do, it makes it easier. ONly because I now understand the effect white sugar has on my body. I cant give up lemonade for now, eventually yes, but this being my first day - I'm going to wean into this gradually.
The point is, whether it was Alicia or someone else, find the right book for you that has a message written so that you can understand. WHat I gained from this book is that I really am affected by a system much larger than myself (processed foods, cows and hormones, dirty places that kill animals, would I trade places with an animal for a day? No, the affect sugar has on my body, how my bones give up nutrients to help break down what I eat - the process itself contributing to osteoperosis).
For me, this book broke it down, and the recipes look simple. My family lives in the four corners area and I just visited them for Christmas, I perused Safeways and Smiths while I was there and I am happy to say that the standard of living in northern New Mexico will not inhibit my new diet when I visit next year.
One other thing I want to say is I've been concerned with my diet for a long time. I've wanted to incorporate being a vegetarian into my life for a long time. In the past, I didnt know what to read or where to start. When I went to bookstores, there are plenty of Vegetarian/Vegan books, but they were mass volume encyclopedias (really thick vegetarian books) and its overwhelming because I want to start now, not in 3 months and I never wanted to invest money and time in a food encyclopedia. This book is simple, and now I know what questions to ask. Im a beginner, I'm peeking around the curtain, and this is an easy read, and for me, this answered basic questions. Like what is Quoina (?) and why would I want to eat it, what nutrition does it offer me? I thought it was just a carb. Alicia's book encourages one to go slow, and not to stick to an "ideal" - meaning dont beat myself up if Im not perfect in my first steps towards becoming vegetarian. So Im going to do the best I can, and be patient, and if I feel like faltering as myself "what is available to me now or within 5 minutes, that is a better alternative to _____ (eating meat, eating a donut, etc.)? If its an apple that a coworker offers to tide me over for 30 minutes until I get something substantial, thats an alternative. Wish me luck and good luck to you!
on November 19, 2009
I loved this book and hated it. Alicia is very likeable and her writing style is relaxed, non-judgemental and encouraging. She does a terrific job of suggesting steps for change that make those changes seem unintimidating. I appreciate that. Where I feel the book falls short is in the research/propaganda department. Let me first say that the goal of the "diet" is to eliminate all animal products and move towards a vegan/macrobiotic diet. That, in itself is not a bad thing, and Alicia doesn't condemn anyone who isn't going that far. She instead, encourages all positive changes on all levels. Back to the propaganda...
Alicia starts off each chapter with some solid research on the negative effects of meat and diary products and the industry as a whole. It's not by any means thorough, but there's an ample list of additional resources for those who want more information. She also covers the bases of research bearing the negative impact of these foods on the body and enviroment. Where it falls short is in distinguishing the line of "moderation". While many of the facts are accurate, she tends to fill in the gaps with lots of propaganda and emotional appeals where the facts are somewhat lacking. The book also fails to delineate the difference between the effects on humans of organic versus inorganic animal-based foods. Those who've read books such as "The China Study" or "The Blue Zones" would quickly see that it's not animal foods alone that have a negative effect on health and wellness. Alicia implies repeadedly, and in a new-age spiritualistic way, that the further you get from eating animal products, the more "clear" you feel. This theme is repeated in several places throughout the book, strongly implying that there is a spiritual cleanliness that comes from eatign a vegan diet, clearing the mind, complexion, body and spirit. She even states that one's intuition is clearer and that each person will be more "in touch" with themselves when the presence of other animal creatures are eliminated from the diet. A little too far gone for me.
One other reviewer commented, and I agree, that she pushes eating "local" foods as part of her diet philosophy, but many of her recipes rely heavily on Japanese ingredients. My additional comment to that would be that she implies this style of eating will make one naturally thin, without concern for calories or exercise. Sorry, I know people doing this lifestyle who still battle weight issues.
Again, it's a mixed bag. Some are simple and delicious. Others are bland and dull. About 40% of them would require that you have access to Japanese ingredients or a well stocked health/whole foods store. Simply not realistic for many of us in smaller, rural areas.
The bottom line is this... if you agree with her philosophy, you will probably enjoy the book and some of the practical ideas for implementing change. If you, however, have read any of the aforementioned books that have a broader perspective, you will find this a little narrow-minded and somewhat inconsistent.
I had stopped eating meat again; it had been almost 10 years. Since my last veggie venture, I learned how to cook and really needed to find a vegetarian cookbook to give me direction.
This book is inspiring in many different ways. First, it reinforces the reasons why I decided to go veg again. You may want to skim through this section if it comes off too evangelical for you. Second, it gives the reader different options for using the book. Namely, you can try vegetarian foods, go vegan or try some macrobiotic diet. Being that I had only ever been vegetarian in the past, it did offer a wealth of new information, and sparked a curiosity to find out more. Alica does a really good job of making the narration engaging and personal. Like a good friend that wants to hang out in the kitchen & cook healthy food with you.
Some of the recipes that i've tried:
*morrocan couscous with saffron: i left out the saffron and the zuchini, and doubled the butternut squash and carrots.
*sweet potato & lentil stew: really good! i added my leftover butternut squash too. yum.
** eggplant chana masala: a favorite! i add extra curry powder and spices. also, you should definitely add veg broth after sauteeing, before simmering. it was way too thick otherwise. i serve it over brown rice and crumbl corn bread in to it. mmm.
*cornbread: the soupy batter looks like something went wrong, but stick it in the oven anyway. it'll be fine. i used half maple syrup/half molasses. it's a deep brown bread with a nice, sweet, complex flavor, though it is different than any other cornbread you've eaten.
*sicillian collard greens: wasn't really crazy about these. i think cooking a little longer, uncovered, would have fixed it though. just to get the balsamic less vinegary and more reduced.
*peanut butter chocolate chip brown rice krispie treats: these are excellent. you end up using pretty much a whole average size jar of brown rice syrup. (if you can't find it, it's by the maple syrup, at the bottom at whole foods.) i did not wait long enough for it to cool before adding the chocolate chips, so mine were peanut butter chocolate swirlish. still tasted good though!
A lot of it is my taste, but there are plenty of exotic new things to try. I would say the only thing I wish she would have expanded on was this though. More detailed explanations of what the more exotic ingredients are, and why/how to use them. The ones I wasn't sure about, I googled. Whole foods has most of the items you need. And it's a great way to try a bunch of new things.
I also purchased the hip chick's guide to macrobiotics, as recommended by alicia. i found that a lot of the macro material is directly taken from that book, but that being said, this is a much stronger cookbook.
I will definitely use this cookbook for a long time.
on October 19, 2009
I was excited to get this book, but when I started looking at the ingredients in the recipes, I decided it was NOT the book for me.
lotus root rounds
brown rice mochi
mellow white miso
umeboshi plum paste
I could go on and on........I just pulled those from random recipes.
If you want to constantly be buying rare ingredients, it might be worth it for you...but I think it would not be very practical for me because I live in a remote area and my local stores do not carry these things.
People who love this book may disagree, but for my family and the practicality of our limited grocery selections, I am returning this book.
I am a hunter and I am a meat eater. I have always viewed Alicia Silverstone as one of them, a PETA freak that stood on the opposite side of everything I loved. However, when I had the opportunity to review The Kind Diet, I was intrigued. Despite her and I only being a year apart in age, she is thin, beautiful, and still has a youthful appearance. I am fat, not bad looking, but I can tell the years are starting to add up. I opted to read her book to see what the difference between her and I, the vegan and the hunter.
The book is basically divided into three parts. The first portion of the book is basically devoted to discussing what is wrong with the American food supply. The second portion of the book discusses the transition to beginning a vegetarian or vegan diet. The third and largest portion of the book is dedicated to recipes.
I found the first portion of the book to be quite intriguing. The author discusses various foods and food group typical in the American diet and then proceeds to say why we should not eat it. Reasons provided range from descriptions on how animals in a corporate farm environment are treated to how the foods have an effect on your body. In the going vegan section, the author discusses the transition to veganism. Ms. Silverstone discusses potential substitutes to foods that you use now. She also discusses how to maintain your new way of life outside the home, such as at parties, restaurants, while traveling, etc. The final chapter is recipes. Not much to say about those.
Ms. Silverstone does an admirable job discussing the topic of the dangers and negative aspects of the food supply as we know it. While I am not a nutritionalist, much of the discussion of why certain foods are bad seems to be based on sound theory. The book does an admirable job discussing substitutes for current food items, but I think the transition discussion could have been much better. Many of the foods listed in this book maybe known to current, experienced vegans, but I did not have the slightest clue what they are. I think the book could have benefited highly if an additional chapter on "grocery store veganism" were added. I think it would have been helpful to discuss a way to start the vegan diet with items found in any Albertson's, Safeway, or any major supermarket. I think this would help people ease into the transition and develop confidence to explore new items, such as the items listed in the book that are foreign to many people.
The book did not inspire me to kick meat all together, but the book did inspire me to make some significant changes in my diet. I am making it a point to eat more plant-based foods and eliminate a significant portion of the meat I used to eat. Overall, I thought the book was good, but I would not call it great. If you are interested in a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, I think the book would be worth reading.
It may sound like hyperbole, but this book has really been life-changing.
I've been a vegetarian, for ethical reasons, for several years. Additionally, I am a staunch believer in animal rights and try to always buy from PETA approved, cruelty-free manufacturers. So I've known for a long while that, despite my love of cheese, ice cream and eggs, I would have to give up dairy in order for my lifestyle to align fully with my principles.
I received a copy of Alicia Silverstone's The Kind Diet for my birthday this past November and have never looked back. Reading the text, written in an approachable, no-nonsense style, made the decision seem so obvious and the recipes made the change effortless. While I have many vegan cookbooks (and I love them all), it was Silverstone's "Superhero" (aka macrobiotic) recipes that truly changed the way I relate to food. At first, it's hard to believe her superlatives (everything is "yummy" or "nourishing" or "energizing") but, once you start cooking - darn, if she isn't right every time.
Believe me, I was skeptical when I purchased my first pack of mochi (pg 236), a hard, plastic-like block of cooked sweet brown rice, but once I sliced and pan-fried it as instructed, it was sticky, sweet and delish. Drizzled with a bit of the recommended brown rice syrup, this stuff is better than French toast. I swear! And when I was slicing the burdock root for stew called Kinpira (pg 272) the strange astringent smell it gave off actually scared me a bit, but once it had been sauteed in the sesame oil with the carrots, it was truly amazing. There's so much here to love. I've enjoyed the simple steamed baby bok choy (with ume plum vinaigrette), the azuki bean stew, Sicilian collard greens and sweet brown rice porridge. And I've only just begun!
The reason this is such a revelation to me is that I own an older macrobiotic cookbook by Lima Ohsawa and it isn't particularly user friendly. The ingredients seemed very foreign and the recipes weren't made to be appetizing, but more like a medicinal prescription. The Kind Diet, with its gorgeous photography and the author's friendly, colloquial encouragement, make macrobiotics, and many of the same recipes, incidentally, much more appealing for a Western audience.
This book made going vegan (not to mention giving up nearly all pre-packaged foods and white sugar/flour), for both me and my hithertofore omnivore spouse, a breeze. Not only do we feel good that we are no longer supporting factory farming, but we feel healthier and more energetic. As an added bonus, his borderline cholesterol dropped 25 points in three months! It's true.
For anyone looking to improve their health (or the health of the planet) through dietary changes, any ethical vegetarian seeking to make the leap to veganism or any fan of the lovely, talented, adorable [and kindly] Ms. Silverstone...this book is a must.
on January 23, 2010
If you are already strictly vegan and don't have the means to purchase expensive, hard-to-find ingredients, think twice before buying this book. There is no "new" information in the introduction that can't be found in numerous other vegan handbooks, and her recipes are impossible. I tried one recipe, the peanut butter cups, and they were a hit, but didn't set up well and the measurements were off.
If you are interested in veganism, I recommend "The Vegan Handbook" which provides more information, easier to follow and find recipes, and actual scientific information. It may not have pictures of a Hollywood starlet, but it will give you reliable, better written, and important information than Silverstone provided.