The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone is a great book. It’s important to state that right away, just in case anyone else has doubts about this book. I will admit, I was not sure the book would hold my interest, or tell me anything that I didn’t already know, which is why it’s taken me three years to finally read it. In case you, too, are dubious, be forewarned- this book is kinda awesome.
Not only is Silverstone a clever and fun writer (if a bit cheerleader-y at times), she is passionate about healing bodies and souls through really good food. And this girl knows her stuff! She’s spent many years learning and cooking (including venturing into macrobiotics, which heavily influences the recipes and guidelines of the book), and her knowledge and recipes reflect this commitment. The Kind Life will be easily understood by those totally new to the concept of veganism, but it’s written in a way that keeps long-time health foodies like me engaged. One of the things I loved most about the book was her focus on kindness to our own bodies, which allows us to tune into the rhythms that guide our natural cycles and needs. Learning to eat more healthfully by feeding our bodies whole grains, vegetables- and kicking out ‘nasty foods’ like meat, dairy, sugar, and processed foods- is a path towards a deep self-love. She notes that we cannot be good friends, wives, mothers, or workers until we take care of ourselves first (7), and this positive, loving message is so important for people to hear. This diet is also kind to the animals and to the environment that we all share, so everyone wins!
Silverstone begins the book with the story of her path towards veganism, and quickly launches into the importance of giving up the nasty foods: meat, dairy, white sugar, and processed foods (great timing for me considering my recent dietary changes). She offers concise but thorough explanations about the environmental factors and health issues associated with those foods, and offers convincing arguments against all of them. But lest we feel overwhelmed, the next chapter begins with all the delicious food that makes up The Kind Diet: whole-grains, plant-based proteins, and lots of fun veggies (her favorites? Kabocha squash, leeks, leafy greens, daikon, and burdock). Her breakdown of nutritional concerns is good too, as it addresses many concerns of newbie vegans and vegetarians. And this chapter, like most others, includes her personal reflections on nutrition ‘rules;’ she admits that she drinks alcohol on occasion, or enjoys a sweet treat at a restaurant, but balances things out with wholesome foods at home. I liked the honesty, and the less-than-rigid guidelines, because it makes committing to this new way of life much less intimidating.
The second section of the book entitled ‘Living the Kind Life’ offers three different ways to enjoy the kind life. She created three different eating styles: flirts, vegans, and superheros. The flirts are those just beginning on the vegan path- learning how to substitute dairy and meat products with vegan options, and learning to slowly cut out processed foods. Her approach is always gentle and supportive; her beginners tips include adding brown rice to every meal, becoming better friends with vegetables, and starting to tune into how different foods affect the body. The second path is full vegan, which eschews many of the initial substitutes and offers simple meal plans with a larger focus on whole grains and vegetables. The final stage of this eating plan is what she calls ‘Superhero,’ which is very macrobiotic influenced (and, incidentally, similar to my own eating habits). Being a superhero entails eating many more wholesome foods- tempeh, tofu, beans, eating whole-grains at every meal, and learning to incorporate ‘magic foods:’ miso, umeboshi, fermented veggies and pickles, and sea veggies. It also limits most sweets, fruits, and spices. She also offers tips for those transitioning, such as how to find good eats at restaurants and tips for planning your weekly and daily meals.
And the recipes? They are really great! But as I mentioned, the Kind Diet offers lots of recipes that closely resemble my daily meals so it makes sense that I would be attracted to them. Though I would never call myself macrobiotic, I’ve learned some of the principles and ingredients throughout the years, and daily include things like miso, nama shoyu, brown rice, ume, and lots of other staples that Silverstone highlights here as well (with the exception of daikon, ick). I have not tried the recipes yet, but the ones I would like to make include:
- seitan with mushroom gravy
- Kinpira stew
- chocolate peanut butter cups (with graham crusts!)
- polenta casserole with seitan
- adzuki beans with kabocha
- black eye pea croquettes
You can find more information about the book here on The Kind Life website, browse many more recipes, or keep up to date with whatever Silverstone might be working on next! Whether you are new to this vegan thing, or just wishing to explore a bit more in depth, I definitely recommend this great book. It’s fun, informative, and very smart!