The Kind Diet

The Kind Diet

Jul 29

Book Review

My mother who has been very supportive and curious about our food experiment, got me a book from the library the other day. She checked out ‘The Kind Diet’ by Alicia Silverstone (yes Miss Clueless, Batgirl herself). Mom read it before she handed it off to me and said that the title made her think it would be for us, but once she read it she realized “She’s (Alicia) telling everyone to be one of those vegan people and she’s kinda a nut”.

So I have spent some time reading through the book and the corresponding website, The book is half informational about why you should not eat meat and meat products and half cookbook which has recipes to help those who are new to eating vegan (vegans don’t eat anything from an animal, no meat, no dairy, no eggs, and often no honey). And yes, after reading it myself I agree, Alicia is kinda a nut.

The diet she wishes you to eat is pretty far out there, and she uses some eastern medicine and new aged principals to tell you about it. (Now eastern medicine and new agey stuff isn’t bad, just unfamiliar. And I am surprised that in a book trying to convince the average person to switch their diet, that she talks about energy of ones chi and feeling a shift in your body as the bad meat essence leaves and you replace it with uplifting veggies).

The Kind Diet advocates what Alicia calls a “Superhero” diet which is a vegan diet with macrobiotic principles added. Lots of extra whole grains and medicinal veggies, no sugars, no processed foods, very limited salt. She tells readers to ditch their microwaves, because studies have shown that they result in higher cholesterol levels then when the same foods are cooked by a traditional method. She does include two less extensive diets to follow in her book, a vegetarian one with limited dairy, and a regular vegan diet. She says that ideally people will start with the vegetarian diet and work their way up to the Superhero, however people could stop and only go up to the vegan if the superhero was too much. The book is written with very ‘cutesy’ language, written as if Alicia is your friend talking personally to you. It calls the things she isn’t advocating ‘nasty’ foods and starting to experiment with going vegan, the “flirting” diet.

This vernacular writing and as well as the fact that her reasons for following this ‘Superhero’ diet are extensive (and mostly backed up with scientific sources), makes for a pretty convincing book. I acknowledge that it’s very one sided and it’s goal is to make you want to jump on the Kind Diet bandwagon, but without remembering that fact at the end of every page, I would have been on the diet already.

The book has a big chunk of pages listing and defining the reasons for not eating meat, but then goes on for just as many pages on why not to eat dairy or processed foods. For meat the reasons vary from medical (bad for the heart, cancer causing, hard to digest) to physiological (our teeth weren’t made like a typical carnivores with sharp incisors and strong jaws for ripping meat) to environmental (causes toxic pollution and global warming, and is killing the rainforests) to being bad for the animals (the cruelty of factory farms, the filth and diseases they cause as well as the grossness of the slaughtering process).

Most of the meat facts I knew, but some of her reasons for not eating dairy were interesting. Research has shown that drinking cows milk is linked with diabetes (She cites Science News, among others). And that tumors develop faster when subjects are given dairy products in lab testing. (The China Study).

She also pointed out the obvious, that milk was intended for the baby of that species to drink until old enough to survive off of solid food. Even human babies drink their mother’s milk, but only for about a year. You don’t see grown people drink human milk, you don’t even see grown cows drinking cow’s milk, so why do we? Also, why cow’s milk if any at all? We don’t drink cats milk, or hippo milk, or any other mammals milk (with the exception of sheep and goat, but those are mostly for cheese). Plus, she also brings up lactose intolerance as a reason against dairy. And as a member of that intolerance club, I totally get that I need to take my Lactaid (aka lactase enzyme in pill form) when I eat dairy, because my body wasn’t meant to digest cow’s milk in the first place.

She also mentioned the cruelty in egg production. Not just to the hens, but to the male chicks born into a female chick world. Supposedly, when a male chick is born they are left to starve to death, or put into a bag to suffocate, or some other way of being cruelly killed. I don’t know if that is all true but I have sent emails to a couple egg producers about the hatcheries they use and what happens to the males, we’ll see what they say.

So I will admit the book got me thinking about meat, eggs and dairy and the effects on my body and the environment, and I even did mark a few of the recipes in the back of the book to try out. However, it didn’t make me want to give up sugars, processed foods, or all dairy. The practical issues of changing my diet so drastically won out.

Not to mention, half the recipes sounded pretty gross for the sole reason that I didn’t know what half the ingredients or methods of cooking were (yes, me, who subscribes to every food magazine possible and reads cookbooks cover to cover for light reading). Kinpira? Burdock? Umebochi? Arame? Shoyu? I know what they all are now, but I also know it would be hard to find them at any grocery store around here (even the smelly Chinese one). Not to mention, that Alicia lives in California, where perhaps those ingredients are more readily available and cheaper then they would be here, and she probably has a personal chef or help to find and make those ingredients.

Despite the title sounding like something we would be interested in, The Kind Diet, is not what we mean when we talk about our new diet of happy animals. We don’t want to be vegan, we don’t want to live without sugars. However, many of the environmental and animal cruelty reasons given in the book are the same reasons we chose to go on our natural organic meat and dairy diet. But instead of drawing the conclusion that we must give up meat and dairy to have better treated animals and positive environmental impacts, we are choosing to merely change the bad methods of raising the animals in order to combat the problems.

2 comments

  1. I really enjoyed this review, and not just because I agree with a lot of your feelings toward food. Honestly, the slightly-crazed look in her eyes on the cover stopped me from even picking this up while browsing in the bookstore a few weeks ago.
    The usage of “nasty” foods makes me slightly angry, though I understand the book is trying to dumb-down and speak in the common people’s vernacular. It’s almost a slap in the face to those who make conscious decisions about what they’re eating, where is came from, and how it came to be. I’m sorry, Ms. Silverstone, but the eggs I eat come from chickens who live in a large yard and eat grubs and grass and feed; the milk I drink comes from cows that graze freely in a pasture. These foods are not nasty, and it offends me that she would call them such.

    • Amen! I totally agree. In my opinion, conscious decisions are a lot more important than “right” or “wrong.” Those are subjective terms, but an objective decision is made by someone who has thought carefully and arrived at a conclusion that seems logical.

      I was really shocked that Alicia could produce such interesting research, but on the whole unhappy with what Laura reported about this book. (I didn’t read it.)

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