By Melissa Li, MD, VO Board of Directors Vice-Chair
Kathy Freston does it again! Vegan Outreach is thrilled to have received an advance copy of her new book, The Book of Veganish. Freston is the author of numerous books on health and wellness, including most recently Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World. Her latest work, co-authored with Rachel Cohn, is aimed at teens and college students, people who might just be beginning to learn about the vegan lifestyle.
Even though I’m decades beyond my adolescent years, I found this book very enjoyable. Kathy Freston writes in an easygoing, conversational style, and she appropriately cites statistics and data in a way that won’t discourage the casual reader. She provides just enough nutritional facts to persuade readers to abandon a standard American diet in favor of a vegan one, without hitting hard on the studies themselves.
It’s great to have a book that targets a young audience because this is a crucial period of time when young adults are becoming invested in social media and finding the peers with whom they want to associate. They may be learning independence and finding out how animals are raised for consumption and what impact they as individuals have on the environment.
It’s a time when self-esteem is also an issue, and it may be scary to stand alone in pursuing an unconventional lifestyle. In each chapter, Freston includes comments from other young adults from all over: small towns such as Mukilteo, Washington; established vegan-friendly cities such as Portland, Oregon; and venturing beyond the U.S., less-established outposts of veganism such as Scotland.
These young people form the community that can become peers, and they offer suggestions, tips, and stories about their processes of becoming vegan. Freston coins the term “veganish” to emphasize that turning away from animal products is a process, and that it’s all about doing the best one can, without judgment.
The book has a lot of frequently asked questions and great answers to help young adults navigate their way, and also to provide them answers to the questions that will be commonly asked of them. The recipes provided towards the end of the book are easy and delicious, and just right for college students’ tight budgets. Freston also offers helpful suggestions for grocery shopping, veganizing dishes, and meal plans.
Lastly, the book includes interviews with some young people about their diet and activism for animals, and it’s a pleasure to learn about the new generation of animal rights activists. I believe more people, at younger ages, are learning about the way animals are treated on factory farms and want to do something about it.