book about vegetarianism?
August 15, 2006 8:56 AM   Subscribe

What's the best, or top 3-4, books about vegetarianism for a 14-year old girl who has asked for a book about vegetarianism. I guess recipes are not as important as the issues surrounding a decision to go meatless.
posted by NorthCoastCafe to Food & Drink (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Diet for a Small Planet was great for me at just that age. I can't vouch for it's accuracy but I remember feeling like my way of looking at food had really transformed.
posted by miss tea at 9:00 AM on August 15, 2006

I know that it's not necessarily a book that advocates vegetarianism, but "Fast Food Nation" has affected almost all of my carnivorous and herbivorous friends' eating decisions in one way or another. It's all about the processing of American meals, paying special attention to the meat industry, and is essentially a book about corporate accountability as well as the importance of choices individuals make in their everyday lives.

And it's compelling enough for a bright 14 year old to thoroughly enjoy.
posted by hermitosis at 9:06 AM on August 15, 2006

At that age the book that was important to me was John Robbins Diet for a New America. Some fifteen years still a vegetarian. I know you didn't ask for recipes, but I have to recommend this cookbook: Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. It is encyclopedic in scope and I have yet to cook anything from it that wasn't knock your socks off delicious (just made a peach berry crisp last night. Yummy.)
posted by Sara Anne at 9:08 AM on August 15, 2006

It's not a book but Viva! puts out a great guide called 'Vegan Basics' that is viewable online or downloadable in pdf form (or you can order it for a $2 donation). It's the best beginner's guide to vegetarianism that I've ever found.
posted by mezzanayne at 9:18 AM on August 15, 2006

Peter Singer, Animal Liberation. I don't know if there's a better book about "issues surrounding a decision to go meatless," and I don't think it would be above her head either.
posted by BackwardsCity at 9:19 AM on August 15, 2006

Diet for a New America is a great book but I found Diet for a Small Planet pretty boring overall.

I'll second Fast Food Nation as well and raise The Perfectly Contented Meat-Eater's Guide to Vegetarianism: A Book for Those Who Really Don't Want to Be Hassled About Their Diet
posted by dobbs at 9:20 AM on August 15, 2006

Are you trying to talk her into it or out of it?

I'm only half kidding with that question, because I think recommendations would depend on what the goal of her reading is. Has she already decided to become a vegetarian and you want her to understand the practical implications of her decision? Is she considering giving up meat and looking for objective information that will help her make up her mind about whether and how far to go? Do you want to influence her decision towards a particular goal?

There are tons of books out there about various aspects of vegetarianism, about ethics and philosophy, about the details of factory farm practices, about cute fuzzy baby chicks, about living as a vegetarian in an omnivorous world, etc. My recommendations would depend on what, specifically, she's looking for.

When I was a teenaged vegetarian, I liked reading the philosophy behind people's choices, although many of the books I was reading seem to be out of print now. If you think she'd be up for it, I'd consider The Way We Eat by Peter Singer and Jim Mason or Singer's older book, Animal Liberation.

I also had a membership in Friends of Animals, an activist group less extremist than PETA, which produces a quarterly magazine on animal and environmental issues. Reading their materials helped me expand my interests in animal protection and gave me some ways to direct my political energy towards the cause.
posted by Amy Phillips at 9:20 AM on August 15, 2006

Also not about vegetarianism specifically, but what we eat and why and our relationship with edible animals and plants: books and articles by Michael Pollan.

After Fast Food Nation, she could read The Jungle by Upton Sinclair, to compare how far we have/have not come.
posted by desuetude at 9:36 AM on August 15, 2006

John Robbins, the same author as "Diet For A New America", has a newer book called "The Food Revolution" that I found extremely informative. When I read it a few years ago (at age 19) it tipped the scales for me into eating a vegan diet. Very accessable, and an enjoyable read.
posted by LoopyG at 9:48 AM on August 15, 2006

I'll add another vote for Fast Food Nation. Although I haven't read it myself, it was pretty instrumental in making my younger sister go vegetarian when she was about 15.

I just started The Omnivore's Dillemma (by Michael Pollan), and think it would probably be a bit dry for a 14 year old, but YMMV.
posted by rorycberger at 10:03 AM on August 15, 2006

I've heard a lot of people praise Skinny Bitch, and the language vulgarity and "vegan your way to a thinner waist line" seems to be very different from the standard "think of the cute cows" stuff in a way that some 14-year-old girls might dig.
posted by Gucky at 10:14 AM on August 15, 2006

Becoming Vegetarian and Becoming Vegan are excellent resources for anyone thinking of making the transition to a meatless diet.
posted by sarahw at 11:18 AM on August 15, 2006

My partner just started reading The China Experiment (subtitled: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-term Health).

The author is a nutritional biochemist who went from being raised on a dairy farm and pooh-poohing vegetarianism to doing experiments that seem to demonstrate (based on partner's dinner-time recountings of his progress in the book so far) that animal protein isn't really good for you, and may actually be harmful. Should probably be read with a critical mind, but I'm not sure how the rest of the scientific community is receiving it.

The title makes me think the author is trying hard to avoid having the book viewed as a "pro-vegetarian treatise", so perhaps he's a careful researcher and writer. It should certainly be worth reading some reviews.

Seems to take a lot of space detailing the author's journey of changing beliefs, but a relatively new book (2005) and certainly interesting.
posted by amtho at 11:53 AM on August 15, 2006

Omnivore's Dilemna is probably not the best place to start. But his articles for the New York Times Magazine are all terrific, in my opinion, and very digestible. (Pun intended.)
posted by desuetude at 12:34 PM on August 15, 2006

How about A Teen's Guide to Going Vegetarian? I've never read it myself, but have heard it recommended several times. Not books, but interesting are the flash movies The Meatrix and The Meatrix II: Revolting.
posted by redheadeb at 2:36 PM on August 15, 2006

I'd offer a strong second for Sara Anne's recommendation of John Robbins' Diet for a New America - it's clear, well-written, easy to read and very thoughtful in its approach to vegetarianism, nutrition and factory farming - but Robbins has updated it with a newer book/web site: The Food Revolution. He was an heir to the Baskin-Robbins fortune but gave it up to become an environmental activist, is a nice guy, an excellent speaker, and is known around the world for his work. I can't think of a better way to introduce anyone of any age to vegetarianism than to point that person to John Robbins.
posted by mediareport at 10:32 PM on August 15, 2006

Thirding (fourthing?) Diet For a New America. I had pretty much decided to go vegan at 15 (through the influence of various online communities) and reading Diet was a great help and encouragement.
posted by rafter at 10:34 AM on August 16, 2006

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