It’s a natural time for change: new school year, new season, new job. So, I decided to freshen up my routines across the board. Since I’ve felt sluggish, lately, I’m trying to switch up what I’m eating. Libraries have like a million food books, so I just ran through that aisle and threw all of them in my cart, Supermarket Sweep-style.
The Happy Vegan had a great title, so it’s the first one I read. It’s written by mogul Russell Simmons. I don’t know much about him, so I didn’t really come into the book with any expectations.
I enjoyed the book because it’s a quick, non-judgmental read. It has the normal stuff you’d expect – why a plant-based diet can make you less sick and more well, the various reasons eating meat causes trouble (environment, water, cruelty), etc.
However, there are three things in this book that I really liked. One, SImmons’ thoughts about disentangling eating meat from one’s own culture. Simmons talks about the place of food in Black culture and how initially he was ostracized for not eating certain foods. I’m not Black, but I live in the South, so his observations about being different (but also the same) resonated with me.
Second, I liked that Simmons gives the reader permission to ease into a plant-based lifestyle. It’s not a cold-turkey (so to speak) change for many, and he acknowledges that it can take months and may involve some setbacks. Instead, he gives some suggestions on not just cutting out meat, but adding in plant-based options, new spices, etc. He is gracious in his timing and posture.
Finally, I thought it was funny he chose not to add in any recipes. He explains that beyond sauteeing spinach with garlic and throwing some hot sauce on it, he doesn’t actually cook all that much. Instead, he provides practical snack advice, and some helpful websites and recipe books from people who actually cook. I appreciated the honesty. (I enjoyed the HappyCow website the most – found some great vegan and vegetarian places in my suburb I never knew about!)
One kind of funny thing – this book was published in 2015. A lot of the celebrities that Simmons quotes would probably not be quoted, now: Ellen, Casey Affleck, Dr. Oz. Yeesh. That’s neither here nor there – just a reminder that maybe we shouldn’t put our faith in celebrities or influencers or whatever we call salespeople these days.