Book Review: How to be Vegan: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Cruelty-Free Eating, Living, Dating, Travel, Decorating, and More

How to be Vegan: Tips, Tricks, and Strategies for Cruelty-Free Eating, Living, Dating, Travel, Decorating, and More by Elizabeth Castoria is an introduction and guide to the vegan lifestyle. Castoria is the former editorial director of VegNews. 

One of my biggest peeves with vegans stems from definitions. In this book I see the same thing. Vegans do not eat or use any animal products which is clear and concise. However vegetarians eat eggs and dairy according to Castoria. As a vegetarian, that is news to me. Vegetarians are by definition herbivores. There are hyphenated exceptions such as lacto-vegetarians who eat dairy and ovo-vegetarians who eat eggs. Castoria sees no difference. What separates vegetarians from vegans is the use of animal products, which is rather a blurry area. Vegans won’t eat honey because bees are animals, but very few would think twice about fumigating their house to get rid of termites. There is a sliding scale of acceptability. 

The book on the whole provides good information on why giving up the consumption of animal products is a worthwhile endeavour. There are personal benefits for your health and environmental benefits. Cattle rank as the greatest greenhouse gas emitters in the world. There is also the animal rights portion too. There is an overall loss in food production by raising animals for slaughter. Animals require much more food than they provide. And, yes, you can get all your protein through plants. 

There are also useful “pro-tips” and celebrity tidbits throughout the book. Most aspects of everyday life are covered from being vegan while traveling, what to eat at the airport, and how to order vegan meals when the options are not on the menu. There is a chapter on household and beauty item and a list some that are vegan. Most aspects of life are covered with the exception of automobiles. Our car society impacts animals a great deal from road kill, destroying habitats for new roads, sprawling suburbia destroying any meaningful wildlife refuge. Not to mention the destruction of the environment from oil spills and pollution. But, giving up a car is harder than giving up meat, I guess. 

All in all a decent introduction to veganism. The recipes at the end of the book are an added bonus, and from reading through them, they seem like they would taste good and look easy to make. I would recommend this book to anyone looking at changing their life to a healthier one and one that is gentler on the planet. Even with what this book lacks it does give an encouraging boost to those interested in veganism (or vegetarianism).

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