Book Review: How To Be Vegan

Image from Amazon.com

  • Author: Elizabeth Castoria
  • Publisher: Artisan
  • Publish Date: April 22, 2014
  • 224 Pages

Even though I’ve been vegan for over a year now, I’m by far not an expert. Since it’s a lifestyle choice, everyone does it a bit differently. I think one of the best parts of How to be Vegan is that the author embraces this and advises readers to do what feels most comfortable for them.

That said, my vegan lifestyle looks a bit different than the one described in the book. For me, shoes aren’t vegan just because they don’t have leather. The glue that binds the sole of the shoe is often made of animal products, so that needs to be taken into account. I don’t go under the assumption that all bagels and bread are vegan. After scouring the bread aisles at the grocery store, I can definitively say that it is actually quiet difficult to find vegan bread and bagels. Lastly, I try to take into account human welfare as well as animal welfare–and there’s a reason those $10 shoes are so cheap.

Regardless of those belief differences, I did enjoy her writing style. It had some humour in it and that made it a breeze to read. She also had some excellent basics in food education (what one can and can’t eat) and what a vegan lifestyle requires. I learned that B12 is the hardest thing to get in a vegan diet (fortunately, that means I get to eat more nutritional yeast).

I think the best asset to this book is the tips for dealing with other people, vegans and non-vegans alike. She definitely had some excellent ways to deal with that ever-present question, “But where do you get your protein?”

At the end of the book are some great-looking vegan recipes. While I wouldn’t say they look particularly healthy, I daresay they’d be tasty even to a non-vegan. It is a really good way to round out this how-to book.

In conclusion, I think that this book is a great starting point for anyone starting out, or even just interested in knowing more about veganism. As the cutest cow ever from Herbivore says, “A little veganism never hurt anybody.”

Rating: 4/5

Update Feb 20, 2015:

I have recently been thinking a lot about this blog post and how unfair it was, for multiple reasons.

Firstly, I realized that despite the “vegan” label on a menu item at a restaurant, I doubt they checked the bread for monoglycerides. While I still try to make sure the ingredients I buy are vegan, I can respect just picking up some bread from a vendor in a pinch–they might have a “vegan” sandwich that’s not really vegan anyway, so what’s the difference?

Secondly, I got schooled recently by the lovely Nice Shoes and they informed me that the glue used to make all shoes these days is vegan, as it’s tougher than the animal based glue. So really the main concern is just the use of leather.

As a result, I’d like to increase my rating to 4.5, and seriously recommend this book to the newly vegan or the vegan-curious.

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