Please note: This article was first published on The Vegan Tourist and last updated January 16, 2013.
I stumbled across The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet while browsing at the Strand in New York City, my favourite bookstore and (temporary) home to “18 miles of new, used and rare books”.
The book was written by vegan actress Alicia Silverstone and is a guidebook of sorts for all those who want to live ethically – a kind life – and make the transition to a vegan lifestyle.
In the first part of the book, Alicia introduces the reader to a number of issues: the effects of meat and dairy farming on the environment and its negative impact on people’s health; the effects of sugar and processed foods on our bodies; and the importance of natural, organic, and GMO-free foods as part of a healthy, kind diet. She also addresses a number of general nutritional questions – what to eat and why – as well as nutritional issues especially important to vegans (iron, calcium, B12, omega3 fatty acids, etc.).
In the second part of the book, Alicia helps readers make the transition to a vegan diet by giving them three options: flirting, going vegan, and superhero.
“Flirting” involves a slow transition from a meat and dairy-based diet to a vegan diet. Vegan foods are added one by one, but meat and dairy aren’t eliminated from one’s diet completely. It’s a slow and painless process, and ideal for all those who are not yet sure if they really want to commit to a vegan life-style.
“Going vegan” is for all those who are ready and willing to commit. Only vegan foods are eaten, but this stage of The Kind Diet still makes use of a lot of processed foods, especially meat substitutes.
The “superhero” stage basically consists of a vegan macrobiotic diet. It centres on whole grains, beans, fruits and vegetables.
I am currently somewhere between “vegan” and “superhero”. I’m eating considerably fewer processed vegan foods than I used to, less bread and more grains, rely less on take-out food, and am generally cooking more dishes from scratch. I never really considered a macrobiotic diet before, but this book has inspired me to give it a try. So far, so good.
In the third part of the book, Alicia provides recipes for all three stages.
The Kind Diet also provides meal plans, cooking tips, and tips for entertaining and eating out. There’s a short section about weight loss and exercise, but this isn’t the main focus of the book.
The book is well written, and contains gorgeous photographs. I’ve tried some of the recipes – crispy tofu slices with orange dipping sauce is a favourite, and I also like the sweet potato-lentil stew.
The instructions are easy to follow, and you don’t have to be a master chef to get them right.
Alicia has also created a website, The Kind Life, which builds on the issues explored in the book, and where she provides more recipes and information for living ethically.