Book Reviews  > "Vegan" The New Ethics of Eating


by Erik Marcus


Following introductory article is excerpted from above named copyrighted book. Available at bookstores and natural food stores nationwide or from McBooks Press, Drawer 24, 120 West State Street, Ithaca, NY 14850. You may call toll-free at 1-888-266-5711 to order. The prices are $14.95 soft cover, or $24.95 hard bound, plus $3 shipping and handling.


AN AWAKENING IS AT HAND. From hot dogs at a ballpark to the Thanksgiving turkey, America's national diet has long centered around meat. But now, substantial numbers of people are becoming vegetarians. In the past decade, millions of people who have eaten meat all their lives have decided never to take another bite of beef, pork, turkey, chicken, fish, wild or domestic game, or any other animal. Many people are also becoming vegans -- eliminating from their diets not just flesh foods but milk, eggs, and all other animal products.


Why the growing interest in vegetarian diets? Individual reasons range from wanting to stay healthy to being concerned about the future of the earth and its population. Whatever the personal motivation, more and more people are realizing that being vegetarian makes sense -- today more than ever. In the 1990s, we've discovered that vegetarian diets, and especially vegan diets, deliver far greater rewards than previously thought. This book examines some of these new discoveries and shows why a change in what you eat can be so simple and yet so significant.


The first chapters present some of the remarkable health advantages provided by vegan diets. Strong evidence shows that a low-fat vegan diet can practically eliminate the possibility of having a heart attack. Not only that, such a diet dramatically reduces cancer risk and can add years to your life. A vegan diet can also help you to reach and maintain your ideal weight, as well as providing a foundation for lasting health and greater energy.


The second section of the book examines the modern meat and animal product industries. In many ways, these stories offer even more compelling reasons to switch to an all-plant diet. It is hard to deny that animals deserve some measure of compassion, and the technology for raising and slaughtering farm animals has grown increasingly inhumane over the past two decades. Modern "factory farming" methods mean that many of today's food animals never see sunlight or soil. They live under conditions of intense crowding in a world of cages, conveyor belts, and artificial light. I have been particularly careful not to exaggerate any of the facts presented in this book, especially those relating to animal production. The plain truth is enough to appeal to most people's sense of ethics. The stories and photos in this section are intended to help you make the mental link between the miserable lives and deaths of animals raised for your consumption, and what you eat for dinner.


A further concern about meat production is its effect on world food supplies. As the human population grows, our world is becoming less able to afford the inefficiencies of cycling massive amounts of food resources through livestock. By moving to plant-based diets, we can do our part to push back the worldwide food shortages that scientists warn are probable in the coming decades.


This book is also about people -- doctors, scientists, activists, people who were sick and got well, people who care about humanity, people who want to make the world a better place. You will meet them in the chapters that follow.


The book ends with a brief explanation of how I came to be a vegan and why it has been so important to me.


Eating meat is a strong tradition in this culture, and the meat, dairy, and egg industries have a large interest in seeing that tradition continue. In their efforts to maintain the status quo, they can call on huge financial resources, armadas of experts, and some of the slickest advertising campaigns ever created. Yet despite their many strengths, these industries are being called into question. Why? Because on so many levels, the arguments against the eating of animal products are overwhelmingly convincing.


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