A few years ago, I wrote a blog post about a similar concept– books that caused me to completely change my diet, and sort of my way of life. All of these books had similar themes of veganism, healthy living, etc. However, when I was going through my old blog posts and deleting a few that I thought needed to be redone or didn’t stick to the tone of my blog, I realized that this list needed to be redone, since there are so many new additions to the list. Thus, I bring to you the new and improved list of books that have changed the way I look at food.
The first book on this list is perhaps my favorite, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re reluctant to the idea of vegetarianism, or perhaps enjoy playing devils advocate. Jonathan Safran Foer does a remarkable job of portraying all of the negative sides to eating meat, and he does it with such powerful, descriptive language that it’s difficult to ignore. However, he does tend to ignore the other side of the argument completely. I personally loved this book because of the passion which he put into every word he wrote. Plus, it is actually really well written and even more impressively researched.
The most well known book of the 6, Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma is perhaps the pinnacle of “change your diet” books. The reason I put it as #2 on this list is because I feel like it got a bit bogged down in the science at times, and wasn’t as enjoyable of a read as Eating Animals was. However, this book does a much better job at showing all sides of the issue (Pollan is actually still an Omnivore), and shows alternative options to giving up meat which, although widely contested, could be useful to some. The main premise of this book is that he follows each meal he eats from start to finish through the food chain, and you see what goes into each item on your plate. I would 10/10 recommend as a must read.
The Kind Diet is a little different. Alicia Silverstone, an actress gone activist, wrote this book to be half cookbook, half informative. Although my mother owns the book and has made many recipes from the cookbook half that i’m sure were delicious, I don’t actually know which meals are from this book and which are not, so I can’t count for the cookbook. However, I can say that the informative section of the book was fantastic. Silverstone focuses much more on the personal health affects of changing your diet than any of the other books on this list, and so if you are interested in improving your health and quality of life, this book might just convince you to go vegan.
This book didn’t directly argue for going vegetarian– instead, it focused on the interconnectedness (and corruptedness) of the fast food industry, and what goes into making the hamburgers which we buy for $2 at the drive through. It gave a new look on the inner workings of the industry we take for granted, and one that isn’t considered that much in other books. Eric Schlosser did a fantastic job with this, as he does in all of his books. He thoroughly researches everything he writes, and is able to lay down a convincing, well written argument for giving up fast food. Or, at the very least, thinking twice before you go to Mcdonalds.
Admittedly, the next two books on this list I’ve only read an excerpt of, so I suppose I can’t really vouch for their overall quality. Animal Liberation is written by Peter Singer, a philosopher, and so you have to read it with that in mind, and accept the fact that it will be filled with inaccessible language and lengthy prose. However, for people who enjoy that, this is well worth the read. In essence, Singer’s argument was that we cannot treat animals as less than ourselves unless we have a distinguishable characteristic on which to do so– and we don’t, unless we are prepared to kill babies and low-IQ individuals as well. I loved this paper because it was essentially exactly what I believe, but written beautifully in a way which I never could. There was also a lot of talk about animal testing, and using animals in other ways besides just eating them, which is a discourse i thoroughly enjoyed (and actually ended up writing a paper for my rhetoric class on, if anyone’s curious and wants to know more about animal testing)
The final book on this list is probably more popular for the way it attacked social issues in the early 1900s than its work for animal rights. However, I still appreciate the work of Upton Sinclair for the way it exposed the meat industry and the horrid way which it treats both the animals and human workers. Although that was written over a century ago, much of it has not changed, and I think it’s an eye opening look at the culture which our current meat packing industry was founded upon.
What books would you have added to this list? Are there any that you disagree with? Will you be adding any of these to your TBR?