THE KIND DIET By Alicia Silverstone

What a joy it is to have picked up this book. It is pretty, elegant and even classy. The book is well organized into various sections for ease of use. Alicia’s pictures of life at home and of various gourmet dishes are delectable. Her writing is thoughtful and witty. She doesn’t preach, she encourages and is the first, to my knowledge, to point out that our bodies are designed for a plant based diet and not an animal based one! Finally! I am sure she is not the only one but she explains it in a short but to the point paragraph and, once again, without preaching.

Alicia Silverstone’s recipes look so yummy, i want to eat them all. She organized them in three sections: Flirting, Vegan and Superhero (I love the choice of words!). And reading this sections made me realize that i was still flirting as in still replacing former meat centered dishes with vegan versions instead of the revamp that she talks about in the « vegan » section. The « superhero » section is for the die hard committed vegans wanting to get into macrobiotic as well. Strangely enough, it seems easier to me than the « vegan » section but more demanding than the « flirting » section.

So go ahead and explore this book as either a vegan or not. Anyone will appreciate this book’s very approachable style. My only critic of it is that Alicia uses a lot of « exotic » ingredients which might throw off some people. I admit to not be familiar with a lot of them but being willing to learn and discover new things. Whatever approach you choose in picking up this book, there is something for every one in there. And yes, I still want to try all the recipes. hehe

 

© Copyright July 2010 – All Rights Reserved. Printing by permission only.

EATING ANIMALS By Jonathan Safran Foer

I picked up this book based on outstanding reviews in VegNews Magazine and other sources. I was in fact taken by the writing from the very first page. The author draws you into his life and conflict about eating animals in a very personal way which i have enjoyed. But i can’t help feeling that he tries very hard to find excuses for the meat industry, although he makes none for the factory farming, thank God.

My favorite chapter of the book is the one devoted to the idea of eating dogs! Yes, it may shock a lot of westerners to read this chapter but it is really the author’s way of showing the absurdity of most people’s way of treating some animals as pets and others as just merely food. He makes a good point of showing that millions of companion animals are being killed in the appalling US shelter system and that these dead animals could feed thousands of people. He demonstrates the weirdness of the distinctions we make between species of animals and the absurdity of our food systems as it is presently. There are in fact entire sections of the book dedicated to graphic descriptions and testimonies on how animals are being killed in the most horrific ways just to satisfy our dietary habits.

What annoys me with this book, however, is the tendency the author has to point out that he is a vegetarian and at the same time somehow approves of the way the animals are treated in systems other than factory farming (which is near nonexistent). He points out that it is still a cruel system in some respect but gets too deep into the friendliness he feels for these farmers, however well intentioned towards the animals they may be. The one testimony that actually made me breathe a bit better in all of this is the one from the vegan woman from PETA when she points out the not really answered question in this book: Why eat meat in the first place?

I still have not found many books pointing out the absurdity of eating meat (aka animal flesh) at all. I am still waiting for the person (except maybe with Skinny Bitch!) that will point out that we DON’T NEED MEAT TO SURVIVE, that our bodies are healthier without it (hence the fact that we are natural herbivores and just made the choice of being omnivores). The fact that the author shows up in « humane » slaughterhouses to show a « better » way of treating the animals does not impress me at all. In the end, these poor creatures are still being castrated (which he points out), and killed. His reaction to seeing and almost petting a live animal and knowing it is going to die a minute later is proof that we are not natural meat eaters. A real carnivore wouldn’t get squeamish at the idea of blood and death. In fact, in nature, carnivores are attracted to blood and flesh and they have the teeth to tear it apart! We are not them! And if someone pretends otherwise, he must seek a doctor right away.

In the end, the author makes a valid point for vegetarianism versus eating animals. But his motivations, no matter how well founded, are not strong enough if he still somehow defends the killing of animals in some parts of his mind. On the other hand, i loved his de-construction of some parts of Michael Pollan’s book « The Omnivore’s Dilemma » and how he counters the arguments presented in that book. This is a book in fact that i couldn’t finish as it made me angry. Michael Pollan is an apologist for the meat-centered, global warming causing, disease prone, diet. There is no place for meat eating in the global warming century, which Jonathan Safran Foer points out very well.

WICCA FOR BEGINNER – Thea Sabin

If you are interested or merely curious about Wicca or if you’ve been wanting to move away from orthodox religion and find something different, this book is a perfect way to start. Each chapter covers all the essential components of the Wicca path. From Raising a circle to your First ritual, the author didn’t miss anything.
This book is pleasant and easy to read but is not meant to be an exhaustive book of knowledge of the path. On the contrary, Ms. Sabin encourages the reader to explore more fully his or her own path and use this book as a beginning tool.
I was very grateful for the ease in which the author introduces you to the many aspects of Wicca. Never does she preach or tries to force you on a specific tradition of Wicca but rather opens the reader to the variety of different paths available. There is no « Bible » for Wicca. So, it is up to the seeker to explore the vast range of possibilities and seek the God’s help.
There are also nice chapters about the Gods and Godesses themselves as well as the traditional ritual and altar tools.
In the end, this is a very nice introduction to the « old religion » and one that also dispells (no pun intended) clichés from mainstream society.
Excellent read. !

COMMITTED: A Rabble-Rouser's Memoir – by DAN MATHEWS

This joy ride of a book was delivered to me through my local library as I was really looking forward to a good animal rights activism book. Recently, I saw HBO’s look at PETA’s president Ingrid Newkirk which I found deeply interesting from an activist’s point of view. I still think PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)is way more engaging than any other animal rights group on the planet! Everybody seems… well… too mainstream and too compromising. You can’t compromise with lives! I like action. So reading Dan Mathew’s personal account of his life as Vice-President of PETA, as a Gay man and just simply a guy was soooo refreshing and fun at the same time.

I couldn’t help but relate to Dan tremendously not because he is Gay but because a lot of his struggles hit home. His childhood particularly felt very much like mine as I was usually bullied by others (for being « weird ». I still wonder what was « weird » about me!). I guess Dan and I share a lot in common. He almost feels like the friend I wish I had in High School (Unlike him, I didn’t even have one – Pathetic!), We share a lot in common. I went through a phase of sexual identity crisis (it’s not over yet) and found myself migrating through the pain of others. And just like him, I embraced the animal rights cause and went from being a meat eater to Vegetarian and finally Vegan.

Dan Mathew’s story is very inspiring and I understand how he was able to make it to the top of PETA’s fight for animals alongside Ingrid Newkirk. I read his book in a just a few days (I’m usually slower) and loved each pages. It’s a lot of fun to find out how he got Calvin Klein to go fur-free, or how he got the likes of Nina Hagen, Chrissie Hynde (of The Pretenders) and Pamela Anderson to really even more around PETA’s cause. He also makes a good case for Veganism without trying to preach for anybody not there yet.

So, yes it is a good read. It’s entertaining and the man certainly has bravado. But more than that, it made me want to join a few naked protests!

51-gopuaY6L

10/29/2013 update about this post: I am amazed at how much my own position on PETA and their sexist campaigns has changed. I didn’t have an understanding about patriarchal sexist thinking and still didn’t understand feminism either, even thought I thought I identify as one. It took reading The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol J. Adams to radically make me see the light. Also, since, I have learned about how PETA kills healthy companion animals. I also don’t think they are even « radical » any more. But at the time of writing, PETA was about the only frame of reference. Other than that, I still think that this book is a good read on various levels and it gives us a good look inside PETA’s thinking.

LADY OF CONQUEST By Teresa Medeiros

I don’t know if Teresa Medeiros has many books like this one, but if it is the case I want to find them all. I had a little difficulty to plunge into the story’s historical context of old Ireland but once I was into it, it was a page turner. If Conn of the Hundred Battles is sexy, Gelina O’ Monaghan is ruthless and brave. These two would make « Dynasty » look like the Hillbillies. I had such a great time following their passion/battles that I simply could not put the book down.

What attracted me to this story was that it really was filled with twists and turns. Boy, every two pages, these two either fight or have passionate sex. There is also more than meet the eyes and Conn’s or Gelina’s personal background has surprises in store. I do think that Gelina is fit for a king and she really finds a match in Conn. One minute, he can be a horrible person to her and the next, he’s worshipping her. This was well written and I could buy it.

Also, I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that the author tried (and succeeded) in making secondary characters important as well. Everyone’s favorite would be Nimbus, the Court Jester, who bonds with Gelina right away. They become fast friends and he is the one who really knows what’s happening between these two fighters. He is also funny and wise and I got really attached to this character all along. Some of the other secondary characters are also notable like Gelina’s awful brother.
Overhall, this is quite a thrilling novel. Part romance, part adventure, part fantasy, part myths. I loved it.

ARMED MADHOUSE – by GREG PALAST

From Baghdad to New Orleans – Sordid Secrets & Strange Tales of a White House Gone Wild (With new chapter! The Scheme to Swipe 2008)

If you don’t know who Greg Palast is yet, maybe it’s time you read one of his books. Greg Palast is the man who blew the whistle on the voter purge in Florida in 2000 and reported it on BBC TV since the US Corporate media would not touch it.

In this updated version of his bestseller, not only does he go into details about the obviously stolen elections of 2000 and 2004, he also issues a big warning about the 2008 election and how the GOP is going to try to steal it again. If you want to know the tactics, Greg Palast gives you an impressive list of facts on the 2000 and 2004 fraudulent election tactics against minority voters and he talks extensively about the « class wars » on the American people used by the rich class to disenfranchise the poor voters.This book is downright scary but we all know now that it is true. It reads like a Mickey Spilane thriller where the detective shows you his clues and facts on the bad guys in the White House and the ones who helped them get there.

He also talks about Katrina and how the Bush administration shamelessly refused help from Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and the privatization of FEMA. He shows how low this administration will go to continue its class war against the poor.

But Greg Palast also offers ways to fight back and that is the reason that, after so many questions from readers, he added a new chapter to his book. This book will enrage you, amuse you (funny at times) and if it doesn’t awaken the activist in you, nothing will. Highly recommended!


MARITAL PRIVILEGE by Ann Voss Peterson

I kind of missed reading some romances recently being into politics. So I picked up this book through a Bookcrossing search at Velocity Cafe in Santa Monica (not to advertise, but…) and started reading to kill time.
This is sooooo not a favorite romance of mine. The story is interesting enough to keep you going but it bears on the boring once in a while. There are however a few moments when it gets gripping.

Alec and Laura Martin are happily married and expecting a baby boy until the Russian mafia led by Alec’s dad decides they want revenge on him. Alec turns out to be a Federal protected witness whose real name is Nikolai Stanislov and who turned his father in for murder 10 years before. Laura feels betrayed by Alec/Nika because he has never told her the truth about himself. Now, the story in itself isn’t a bad start and you would expect lots of action. And there is some. First Alec tries to save people in his wife’s restaurant after his father’s gang killed all the employees, then he saves Laura from his father’s thugs (who also want her for the baby she is expecting) and then he flees with her to escape the mafia and tries to contact old acquaintances to find help.

So there is some action in there. However, the plot lacks passion. The relationship between Alec and Laura is slightly boring and the lack of passion between them (except for the sole steamy inevitable sex scene) doesn’t help the story. I have read other stories of the « intrigue » series that really kept you turning pages like crazy. This one isn’t one of them. Read it for the time it kills, that’s about it. I was disappointed.