One of the hardest parts of being a new vegan (or even an old seasoned vegan) is trying to keep up with all the new products out there. I must have spent over $50 looking for the "right" vegan cheese my first year being a vegan and I have over 50 vegan/vegetarian cookbooks in my arsenal but not all the recipes are the greatest. I’m the first born so I’m used to being a Guinea Pig and now I’m your Vegan Guinea Pig. So here are my recommendations and critiques. Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Book Review: The Vegan Girl's Guide to Life by Melisser Elliott

Over here in the land of the Vegan Guinea Pig I get boat loads of vegan cookbooks to look over and review month after month. There’s so many amazing (and some not so amazing) cookbooks out there that it seems to take forever to review them all. What I don’t get often is a vegan book that is more than just a cookbook but a real guide to what being vegan is all about.

The Vegan Girl's Guide to Life: Cruelty-Free Crafts, Recipes, Beauty Secrets and MoreOn the off chance you’ve been living under a rock or on a deep sea adventure for the past couple of weeks you might not have heard that Oprah and 378 of her staff members went vegan for a week and chronicled the entire experience for her show. I had mixed feelings about the show but one positive that came from it is that it peaked a lot of folk’s interest in a vegan lifestyle. I’ve been getting non-stop emails, calls, and tweets asking how to make the transition to veganism, what are the best cookbook’s to try, where do you start, etc. Before I mention one cookbook (even my own) I refer people to Melisser Elliott’s The Vegan Girls Guide to Life. The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life is more than just a how-to into the land of veganism but it actually puts you face to face with vegan mavens and mavericks all over the world, shares their stories, experiences, likes, dislikes and the amazing vegan resources they use.

I honestly can’t think of a better how-to guide to veganism. Elliott goes over the basic in’s and out’s of veganism (what a vegan eats, what a vegan doesn’t eat, what a vegan wears, what a vegan doesn’t wear, what kind of soap a vegan uses, what kinda of tattoo ink to look for, the list goes on forever).  She also dedicates a whole chapter to the nutrition aspects of veganism, surviving as a vegan in a non-vegan world, shopping for non-food related products (with a very extensive list of great vegan health, beauty, clothing, and home products). I’m a shoe-freak so I dog-eared the shoe and handbags section to keep handy anytime I find a few extra nickels at the bottom of my purse. Elliott then follows it all up with a hearty section of simple recipes that will help get you started on your road to veganism. Vegan superstar’s Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero even contribute a few recipes.

My only bone to pick with this book is the nutrition information. But then again, you would expect that of me by now. I really wish Elliott would have called on a vegan registered dietitian for help in this section of the book. There are so many fabulous, knowledgeable RD’s out there that are always willing to share that it seems a shame that more vegans don’t utilize them as resources. I cringed reading chicken breast being put into a nutrient battle with kale when a better example would have been a similarly protein rich plant source like legumes or nuts and seeds. Some of the recommended daily allowances (RDA’s) were a bit on the low side of what is recommended for vegetarians and vegans which can be slippery slope especially when making recommendations to menstruating women. But, all in all, it’s a good place to start and thankfully, like some other vegan books I’ve read, she doesn’t give any out and out incorrect nutrition information.

Nutrition section aside The Vegan Girl’s Guide to Life is a must have for new vegans, anyone who has ever pondered going vegan and even for old seasoned vegans. The personal stories and spotlights throughout keep it light, entertaining and a joy to read. Bravo Melisser! I can’t wait to see what you have coming up next!

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