Heather's Reviews > The Kind Diet: A Simple Guide to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Saving the Planet

The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone
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Mar 16, 10

Recommended for: People who want to eat better, environmentalists, people who love animals, hippies
Read from March 14 to 16, 2010, read count: 1

Sigh.

I love Alicia Silverstone. No, really! But this book really brings out her bubble-headedness. Which is saying something, coming from someone who enjoys her professional work and was really wanting to be inspired to take another step in the journey of eating kinder. In the end though, I discovered the recipes here represent exactly what I hate about many cookbooks.

The big idea of the book is that if you're eating an average American diet, you can experiment with vegan alternatives. Vegetarians can go vegan. Vegans can go whole-food, organic, or localvore. Everyone can go further toward a healthy diet, which impacts one's own wellness as well as the wellness of the earth. As someone who has been vegetarian for 16 years, yes, I get it.

Unfortunately, every single recipe in the book requires some ingredient I would need to go out of my way to chase down somewhere: mostly daikon, umeboshi products, or kabocha squash. Of the two recipes I made yesterday (wheat biscuits–the only thing I had all the ingredients for, and oatmeal-from which I omitted the maple syrup and substituted raisins for dates)–they didn't taste as "yummy!" as Alicia promised. I don't want to chase down ingredients to try new recipes–so Mark Bittman's How to Cook Anything Vegetarian, with its simple, basic recipes and ingredients, and easy vegan adaptations is going to win out.

On top of this, the writer (I'm assuming she used an uncredited ghost writer–most everyone does) inserted Alicia-speak everywhere possible. Many of the recipe introductions say "They're so good," "Yummy!" or "This dish is delicious!"–if a recipe needs to tell the reader it's good, it's probably a hard sell otherwise. Here's a particularly representative example:
"I used to eat the presweetened, instant oatmeal that came in a packet until I joined the cast of a play about Orthodox Judaism in which I portrayed a lesbian who has a cocaine overdose on stage...anyhoo, another actress in the show, Lesa Carlson, taught me how to make this oatmeal! I love using dates from the farmers' market."
Yes, Alicia loves the farmers' market and reminds us of this at every turn. I also love the farmers market–except when you don't live in southern California, they're not open year round–making the "more affordable" argument for organics rather flimsy.

Frequently I have thought about taking the next step and doing a vegan experiment–but these recipes are not what I'm going to be using if or when I do so. Back to the library with you, book!
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