Sunday, December 12, 2010

Review: The Vegan Girl's Guide to Life

A few weeks ago, the folks over at Thomas Allen & Son publicity so kindly offered to send me a copy of the newest Vegan lifestyle guide to hit the market, The Vegan Girl's Guide to Life, available through Skyhorse Publishing.

Put together by Melisser Elliot (of The Urban Housewife fame), this is a cool little "How to be Vegan" manual that covers not only ethical food choices but also assists both new and veteran vegans alike in navigating the often overwhelming world of cruelty-free fashion, beauty, hobbies and relationships.

I've said it once and I'll say it a million times again: the food aspect of going vegan was insanely easy - most food products are clearly labeled and even if they are not, most of us can pull out the pots and pans and veganize any kind of omnivorous delicassies that tempt our palette.

Clothing and household items, however, pose more of a challenge - at least they did for me. There aren't the same kinds of laws regulating the disclosure of ingredient/content lists on clothing and cosmetics as there are on foodstuffs. Furthermore, while there has been a recent surge of vegan diets in the mainstream, mostly due to celebrities and talk shows and the focus on the health aspect of herbivorous diets as opposed to the animal rights component (love it or hate it, it is the reality for now), the notion of the cruelty-free lifestyle is still a relative outsider in mainstream media. As such, while there are a million vegan cookbooks, frozen dinners and restaurants popping up in even the most remote of neighbourhoods, the availability of cruelty-free clothing, makeup, cleaning products and the like is still quite limited.

Furthermore, as we vegans learn to be vegan and abstain from animal product and byproduct to the most of our ability, we often stumble - there are dozens of hidden "unveganisms" that enter into our daily lives without our awareness and sometimes, within our awareness, but out of desparation and lack of alternatives.

The Vegan Girl's Guide to Life helps combat the confusion that arises while being vegan in an omnivorous world. Not only does it provide tips and tricks to living la vida vegan, it literally puts you in contact with dozens of cruelty-free companies specializing in everything from food to clothing to body modification to crafts and to personal and intimate products. I'm not just talking mentioning these various companies in passing - Melisser provides website addresses and store locations and interviews with the creators and innovators so that you can put a face to dollar bills you hand over, and be certain that you are supporting an independent, ethically-minded entrepreneur.

This book is ideal for the newbie vegan, just learning about the plight of animals, as it not only debunks the many of the myths about veganism currently running rampid in our society, but it also provides some slick and informed responses ready to be employed the next time someone asks you why humans have canine teeth if they weren't meant to eat meat (and believe me, somebody will ask you that - again and again and again).

While it is perfect for newer vegans, there is something in it for us old timers too. I know I learned a thing or two, as it served as a quick Vegan 101 refresher, providing quick and concise blurbs on things like hidden animal ingredients, how to cook the best tofu on the block and which drugstore lip balm is vegan. While you will come in contact with this information throughout your vegan life, it's nice to have the information easily accessible and all in one place for the next time someone puts you on the spot as to how sheep are harmed in the production of wool. Further, I learned about a ton of independent vegan companies and their fearless female creators. I look forward to trying their many varied products in the new year.

As such, I'm giving The Vegan Girl's Guide to Life the TIV: Seal of Approval. If you're still looking for something for that hard-to-buy-for vegan in your life, this small but mighty book makes a great stocking stuffer!


Sarah B @ Bake + Bike said...

Great review! I'm not vegan (just vegetarian) but I'm becoming more and more concerned about animal-derived ingredients in beauty products and such.

I actually spotted this in a bookstore recently and was thinking of picking it up- you have convinced me :)

Desiree Diaz said...

great review! I love this book!
still trying to figure out everything since I just went vegan some days ago...
I'm still trying to understand "what should I eat" lol

Mary said...

Sarah - I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Desiree - If you ever have any questions or just want some moral support, feel free to drop me an email at :)

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