Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Kind Diet

"How can he be possessed of kindness, who to increase his own flesh, eats the flesh of creatures?" ~Thiruvalluvar, Tamil Poet c. 2nd century BC


Vegan actress and animal-rights activist Alicia Silverstone's new book, The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet offers a bounty of helpful ideas for choosing and preparing foods that are good for our bodies, the animals, and the planet. Meals are planned around those foods which provide optimum health and vitality, focusing on fresh, organic, plant-based ingredients. It would make an absolutely lovely gift for anyone who is looking for a way to eat more deliciously and healthfully, regardless of where they are on the vegan spectrum.

Photo © Lindsay S. Nixon and Happy Herbivore.

The Kind Diet is broken down into three levels: Flirting, Vegan, and Superhero. In "Flirting," Alica makes simple recommendations for weaning off the standard American diet with ideas like replacing a few meat-based meals with vegan ones and exploring the myriad of transitional vegan foods available. In the "Vegan" section, she presents a road map for how to build a vegan meal plan.

Focusing on ingredients like sea vegetables, mochi, agar-agar, umeboshi plum vinegar, and Gomashio, along with fresh, local, seasonal whole foods, the "Superhero" level is based on a macrobiotic style of cooking, which has long been associated with improved health. Alicia's own vibrantly beautiful, trim, energetic, and glowing appearance makes a powerfully convincing argument for how choosing these foods is indeed, a very kind thing we can do for ourselves. And readers need not be overwhelmed by the aforementioned exotic-sounding ingredients. They are readily available online, and most can be found at your local Asian grocery or natural foods store.

Excitedly, I spent the first night with my copy of The Kind Diet scanning all of the recipes, as I usually do with any new recipe book. The photographs were utterly mouth-watering, and I immediately honed in on the recipe for Nabeyaki Udon. Made with sumptuously thick udon noodles, shiitake and maitake mushrooms, (I could not find the latter, so used twice as many shiitake), gently cooked carrots, broccoli, leek, bok choy, napa cabbage, bean sprouts, and dandelion greens (which I also couldn't find, substituting delightfully fragrant jasmine greens, instead), and smartly seasoned with shoyu, ginger, and lemon juice. I also added one sliced red bell pepper, which made for an even more colorful and delicious dish.


I didn't think I was a big fan of polenta, having always found it rather bland and dry. But Alicia's Polenta Casserole with Seitan looked and sounded too good not to try.


I'm very glad I did, because this dish was one of the best dinners we've had in the last few months, far from being bland or dry. It made a polenta lover out of me. And since Alica suggested that a side of greens would make it absolutely perfect, I went back to one of my favorite go-to recipes, and served it up with Bryant Terry's Citrus Collards with Raisins Redux. It was perfect!


The Kind Diet contains a glorious selection of desserts that will satisfy any sweet tooth. Lemon-Poppyseed Pound Cake, Mixed Berry Cheesecake, and Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups are just a few. I decided to try something that sounded light and fruity, Candied Ginger Pears. Made with brown rice syrup, pear juice, lemon, and ginger, it was a lovely departure from the usual cakes, cookies, ice cream, and pies.


Oh, and if you're wondering if I was able to remain true to the McDougall diet, while enjoying the recipes in this book, the answer is yes! None of the recipes I prepared contained any oil, and only a bit of tahini or whole nuts. Speaking of nuts, Dr. McDougall has an insightful article about them in his most current newsletter, which you can read here.

14 comments:

lucy said...

Fantastic! I know what I'm getting my mom for Christmas! Thank you.

Lindsay (Happy Herbivore) said...

glad you were able to use the photo! Her recipes aren't mcD or E2L friendly but most can be adapted :)

Vegiegail said...

Actually, many of the recipes in this book are McDougall-friendly. With the Nabeyaki Udon for example, there is not even a hint of oil, and I didn't have to change a thing! It's a lovely, low-fat, starch-based dish.

Helen said...

Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this book. It sounds wonderful. I think I'll buy one copy for myself, and one for each of my closest friends.

Marilyn said...

omg i LOVE polenta, can't wait to try that and the pears, YUMMY!

Michael said...

Sounds like if I get this book for my wife for Christmas, I'll be eating pretty well come the new year!

avegangirl said...

Alicia Silverstone rocks, and so do you for posting this review with all these great photos!

J said...

“A human can be healthy without killing animals for food. Therefore if he eats meat he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite.”
Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

Angel said...

How delicious it is to eat with compassion!

Christie said...

What a beautiful book! And your preparation of these dishes looks as delicious as always.

Bonnie said...

I was excited to see this!
Thank you Gail, you keep me informed. I want to read that preface too.

ginger said...

this looks like it's worth a look, thanks for the heads up. i like alicia silverstone and i think the level of "flirting" she describes is probably the best description i've heard for the veg-friendly.

by the way, you do know that shoyu is japanese for soy sauce, right? nama shoyu is raw soy sauce.

i loooooove udon!

VeganMarr said...

Any chance there are any leftovers in your fridge, Gail? If I lived closer, I'd be stopping by to check all the time! ;-) Liked the addition of red pepper to the Udon dish...smart, for eye appeal & added flavor. The polenta dish sounds heavenly. And the pears look unique & yes, a light rather than heavy desert. Let us know if you try other recipes in Alicia's book!

The Vegan said...

Excellent review. It makes me want to go out and buy the book today although maybe I will wait and pick it up tomorrow. :-)
And as usual I love your photos of the delicious dishes you prepared. They are making me quite hungry.....