I love ribs, bacon and roasted chicken. Though I probably have the first 2 items a few times a year, I enjoy them thoroughly when I eat them. I have a hard time saying “never” to foods. I believe most of us should eat less animal protein and better quality animal protein when we do. For many reasons, I do not eat meat or poultry more than once a day…but that’s still once most days. Because of this, I will never call myself a vegan or even a vegetarian for that matter. There was a time when I may have harbored some desire to “go vegan” and there still is a certain appeal to putting only the best food in your body or having unrelenting rules. Regardless of what works for me, I admire people who are passionate about what they eat. You can’t help but notice this passion if you read The Kind Diet  by Alicia Silverstone.

I purchased The Kind Diet after seeing a few of the recipes featured on various TV shows. And I’ll admit I was somewhat drawn in listening to a conversation between Alicia and Oprah about the benefits of plant-based diets and…poop. It’s funny for all the promises various diets make you don’t hear poop mentioned all that much. If you are considering making the vegan leap, the book provides some compelling reasons (other than poop) and various stages of doing so. For me, I purchased the book as inspiration to learn about new ingredients or ways of using certain ingredients. I found a book written in a very positive, maybe “kind” manner. In the introduction, Silverstone mentions “unlike other diet books, I won’t ask you to freak out about calories, carbs or the glycemic index.” While this is refreshing the book does ask you to freak out about other things so called “nasty foods” (meat, dairy, white sugar, coffee and processed foods to name a few), so be prepared.

One of my issues with some vegetarian or vegan diets is that they aren’t necessarily balanced diets just because they lack meat or animal products. Many vegetarians subsist on grains and not necessarily the whole grain variety. Or, in an effort to get their meat fix or for lack of ideas eat processed soy versions of meat, cheese and milk. Over-soying is something I tackle with my vegetarian clients. The Kind Diet is one of the first, recent vegan books that shifts the focus away from soy. The Kind Diet advises readers to see soy foods as “occasional treats.” Treats? I don’t know about that but I would concur with occasional.

So what did I enjoy or learn from The Kind Diet?
• There are many foods I know but may not cook with. In The Kind Diet I was inspired to use burdock, brown rice syrup, sea vegetables and umeboshi plums.
• Greens! Alicia mentions she eats leafy greens (kale, collards, bok choy, watercress and cabbage) at almost every meal, I average once a day and thought that was good!

• Chewing- eating speed is something many people know is good to keep an eye on but an area that takes time to change. There are suggestions to “ramp up your chewing skills” which I think can help both digestion and satiety.

There were also things I disagreed with or wouldn’t do. Nightshade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants and peppers) are discouraged. The only population this may make sense for is arthritics, for the average healthy person, I see no need to refuse ratatouille. And while quinoa and oats are among my best friends, I feel most people (especially women) don’t lose weight eating these at most meals when trying to lose weight.

Silverstone is not an R.D. and I know some have pointed this out. I have to say, I loved her casual tone that may have been easier to adopt without the worry of professional nutrition colleagues. I applaud the use of “fartiness”, “flirting” and “freaking out” when talking about food. This is an easy read and a book I’ll recommend. I read it last night after eating (organic) ribs.

What are your thoughts on veganism? Any forays? Or are you a vegetarian or vegan and perhaps want to share your experience? Do you discriminate against carnivores as I do against McDonald’s eaters?

There are a lot of good recipes on The Kind Life’s website, this is one of my favorites from the book (for the sake of space I condensed the instructions).

Sicilian Collard Greens with Pine Nuts and Raisins
Serves 2 or 3

1 bunch collard greens, 2 tbs pine nuts, 3 cloves garlic peeled and chopped, 1 tbs olive oil, 3 tbs raisins, 2 tbs balsamic vinegar
*In the book says you can substitute shoyu for balsamic and pumpkin seeds for pine nuts

Cut central rib and stem out of the collards and rinse leaving a little water on the leaves. Toast pine nuts in dry skillet over medium heat approx 5 min or until golden. Shake pan often to keep from burning. Transfer nuts to plate and set aside. Place garlic and oil in large skillet and sauté 1 min or until garlic fragrant. Add the damp collards and stir, cover the pan and let cook 2 min linger. Add the raisins and pine nuts and stir. Cover and cook 2 min longer. Stir in balsamic and cover for a final 1-2 min of cooking.

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