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The Green and the Red

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Léa is the idealistic owner and chef of La Dame Verte, a vegetarian restaurant struggling in a small French town in Brittany. Mathieu is the carnivorous marketing director of the town’s biggest pork producer, which is trying to put Léa out of business to take over the restaurant’s prime real estate.

When Léa and Mathieu first cross paths, it is under false pretenses—Mathieu is posing as a vegetarian, infiltrating the local animal rights community for information that will force Léa’s restaurant toward a swifter demise. And while Léa suspects that Mathieu isn’t all that he appears to be, she has no idea how deep his culinary deception goes. Neither of them can deny the attraction they feel for each other, and it seems as though they might be setting a table for two … until Léa learns the truth.

189 pages, Paperback

First published April 13, 2014

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About the author

Armand Chauvel

2 books12 followers
I am a French journalist and correspondent for Spain and Portugal. Born in France to an extended family of Burgundian winemakers, I spent a large part of my childhood in Senegal and Brazil due to my father's work as a tropical agronomist. I studied journalism in Paris before taking work in Portugal and later in Spain. Although my journalistic focus is the economy and the business world, I am also passionate about the arts. I studied painting in Lisbon as well as playwriting and scriptwriting in Paris before tackling the novel genre. I became a vegetarian in 2006 after viewing the documentary Earthlings, and since then have taken a growing interest in the vegan diet and philosophy. I am also very interested in meditation, especially Vipassana. In September 2012, I founded the French-language blog Vegeshopper, which explores consumerism from a vegetarian/vegan perspective and features interviews on the subject with notable individuals.

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5 stars
13 (20%)
4 stars
19 (30%)
3 stars
21 (33%)
2 stars
6 (9%)
1 star
4 (6%)
Displaying 1 - 19 of 19 reviews
Profile Image for Sherry.
125 reviews53 followers
August 6, 2015
Just finished reading The Green and the Red, a charming Eco lit novel about a vegetarian chef and owner of a struggling vegetarian restaurant and a carnivorous marketing director of the town's biggest pork producer. Animal rights, ethical consumerism, romance, and a touch of humor combine to make this novel an entertaining and enlightening read.
Profile Image for Peacegal.
9,796 reviews87 followers
June 14, 2014
3.5 stars-- I never thought I'd rate a romance novel so highly, but this book was truly enjoyable, and thankfully, was more than just a love story.

The only thing that disappointed me about THE GREEN AND THE RED was that at one point, the staunchly vegetarian restaurant owner breaks her commitment to sample foie gras, of all things, to make sure that her "faux gras" is a proper replica of the bird-based stuff. This is completely out of character, and doesn't make any sense in the story, especially when one considers that foie gras is one of the most torturous foods to produce. Why couldn't Lea have just tested her faux gras creation upon an omnivorous foie gras fan (certainly not a difficult thing to find in France)? It makes no sense.

Anyway, this book did make me curious about trying vegan "faux gras," and trying more vegan French cooking.
Profile Image for Shel.
Author 2 books69 followers
April 30, 2014
The world needs more romantic comedies and more books with vegetarian protagonists this novel responds delightfully. Add this to your summer reading list for the beach, plane or train. It's a fun, quick read. And set in the small French town of Rennes, it's perfect for the literary traveler.

Written in a cinematic style, it's reminiscent of the Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan movie You've Got Mail — an unlikely romance between a small business owner and the corporate executive trying to put her out of business. Nedelec Pork aims to oust Léa Rystel's struggling vegetarian restaurant La Dame Verte and replace it with a pork museum. Léa's love interest: Mathieu, the pork marketer, whose main interests are eating meat and moving up in the Nedelec family business even if it means sleeping with the boss' daughter.

While maintaining a light-hearted touch, the novel engages in dialogues about vegetarianism and reveals the cons of meat-eating in terms of environment, health (one of the characters is a prominent gasteroenterologist), and cruelty. As the romantic tension and farce mounts, dramatic scenes takes place at a Veggie Pride celebration, a vegetarian foie gras tasting, a slaughterhouse, and the site of an environmental tragedy (the boss' daughter is attacked by killer seaweed) — and they're funny. Quite a trick!

The tension escalates and the fun continues to the end. The book says a lot about the ethics of pigs versus pork, but leaves the reader smiling.

It's tempting to imagine The Green and the Red on the big screen with a cast of vegetarian and vegan actors (Anna Paquin as Léa? Woody Harrelson as Mathieu?), with lots of cameos by famous vegans (Gene Baur, Caldwell Esselsytn, Paul Shapiro and Ingrid Newkirk), and a fabulous soundtrack featuring vegan musicians. This great summer read would make a great summer movie.
Profile Image for Aly Abell.
59 reviews
June 10, 2014
Once I started reading The Green and the Red by Armand Chauvel, I couldn’t stop. I ended up finishing it the same day I started! From the description I was expecting it might be very aggressive about the message of the benefits of vegetarian eating. There is no question of where the author stands on the subject of vegetarianism, but the story is told in a funny and sweet narrative, with sharp barbs directed at both the vegetarians and meat-eaters.

In places the language comes across as a bit stilted. Although the French version is no longer available for comparison, the translation overall appears excellent. But perhaps in some cases a word has a different nuance in French versus English, which affects its sense in a novel. Consider for example the phrase “his regular instincts had to admit they were titillated when she crossed and uncrossed her legs à la Sharon Stone.” In conversational American English, a phrase such as turned on would seem much more natural than titillated. In other scenes, characters expound on the Omega 3 content of flax seeds and the health virtues of milk in ways that don’t seem very likely in real conversations from these characters.

This romantic comedy about a vegetarian restaurant owner and her nemesis in the pork industry will appeal not just to vegetarians but to anyone who enjoys a witty story. If you are an omnivore, the book may not convert you into a vegetarian, but it will make you think twice before adding that side of bacon.

I was delighted to receive the book through Goodreads First Reads.
Profile Image for Sally Bennett.
82 reviews3 followers
February 11, 2015
As an ethical vegan, it's no surprise that I found the omnivores in this book to be disgusting and narcissistic. The vegetarians in the book displayed varying degrees of tolerance with their own diet choices as well as those of the omnivores. The author does a good job of covering the various stereotypes from each viewpoint, as well as enlightening the reader on some little-known truths of what's really in our food.

It's written as a comedy, a romantic one, and really fast-forwards in that aspect! Considering that diet and lifestyle are topics that normally arouse the pride and ire of everyone one way or the other, the author has done a good job of making us laugh at ourselves. It's an easy book to read and should leave you satisfied at its conclusion.
1 review1 follower
November 27, 2014
The Green & the Red is a great primer for people who are discovering a new approach to healthy dietary choices, which will ultimately lead to a better planet for us all!
This is a serious subject that was tackled very well by Armand Chauvel, in the sense that he was able to highlight the main stereotypes and cultural habits between vegetarians and carnivores in a light and humorous way, which was not lost in the superbly crafted translation by Elisabeth Lyman.
It is a pleasant and easy read. The type of book that you won't be able to put down until you reach the last page and with the holidays fast approaching, this book would make a perfect stocking stuffer for anyone who cares about our environment, health and ethical issues.
Profile Image for Dynise.
Author 3 books16 followers
September 4, 2014
A delightfully funny, entertaining read into which more poignant messages about animal rights & the environment are gently & deftly interwoven. I think TG&TR would make a fabulous rom-com film; I found myself LOL-ing several times as Chauvel poked fun equally and eloquently at obnoxious vegheads & uninformed omnivores alike. This novel will challenge your notion of tolerance and stereotypes -- about both humans & animals-- wherever you may fall in that spectrum.
1 review
October 29, 2014
It's a very interesting combination of entertainment and insightfulness. Armand Chauvel manages to speak up for deep values meanwhile never loses his sense of humour. I would even consider this novel groundbreaking as this must be one of the first fictions written in French that defends or promotes the veggie lifestyle. And all this in the form of a charming and funny love story.
1 review
April 3, 2015
You don't have to be a vegetarian to enjoy The Green and the Red. Anyone who is concerned by environmental issues, animal welfare and compassion in farming will find food for thought in this charming novel which exposes the excesses of both extremes of the dietary spectrum. In addition to this, it is quite simply a delightful and refreshing read.
Profile Image for Jocelyn.
352 reviews1 follower
September 28, 2015
Three and a half stars. A light and entertaining novella, with an informative undercurrent. I liked the subtle humour but felt the characterization left something to be desired. Lovely descriptions of delicious vegetarian dishes, made me almost wish the author had included some recipes.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
13 reviews1 follower
February 21, 2020
A great find for fun and plant based argument material!

I joined the Instagram group @veganbookclub and this was my first read. It’s a brilliant find if you’re in need of some punchy vege facts to back up any conversational arguments you may find yourself confronted with! Fab ending too!!
Profile Image for Clair.
55 reviews6 followers
July 20, 2015
A short, entertaining Sunday read.
1 review
December 18, 2021
Finally! A positive representation of vegetarians!

As a vegan, I try to stay neutral whenever meaty, cheesy, or other NSFVeg dishes are described in a book, especially if it’s in minute detail. However, after reading an anti-vegetarian rant disguised as a “mystery novel”, I realized that most, if not all, stories I’ve read with vegetarian/vegan characters always portray them in a negative light. That being said, I made it my mission to search for any fictional books with vegetarian or vegan protagonists. And so I came across The Green and the Red.

The story focuses on two characters: Léa Rystel, a vegetarian and financially struggling owner of La Dame Verte, a vegetarian restaurant within Rennes—home of Nedelec Pork, the biggest meat industry in France; and Mathieu, the success-driven manager of said-meat industry, who wants to bring down La Dame Verte to make room for a pork museum (as well as win over Nedelec Pork’s CEO and said-CEO’s daughter). When his secretary talks about the positive experience she had at La Dame Verte, Mathieu poses as an enthusiastic vegetarian customer to get an idea of the restaurant he wants close down. Meanwhile, as Léa works to keep her restaurant in business, she learns of the different ways people choose to put food on their plates—be it omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, pescatarian, “organic” meats, and so on—while also standing up for her own decisions.

I found this book to be very inspiring. Lots of appetizing vegetarian dishes are described in this book, and how they substitute their meat rivals. Sometimes, I would catch myself saying "Yep, I knew about that," or "Yep, I can relate to that," or even "Wait, they can DO that?" One thing I’d like to point out is that while the story itself is really sweet, it does have a predictable RomCom storyline. However, like one of the book’s main themes, I thought the “How did they get there?” was more important than the end result. It may be an uncomfortable read, especially for anyone who is an omnivore, but it is still worth reading because you will get something out of it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I’m going to make my own own vegan-inspired foie gras.
Profile Image for Tessa.
170 reviews26 followers
February 17, 2020
Loved the novel's premise - it's like You've Got Mail, vegetarian style - but I wasn't a fan of the execution. Throughout the story, I felt like I was missing something: the reason for these outrageous stereotypes of veg people, the reason why I should at any point root for Mathieu (and as a result his relationship with Léa)...I loved the animal rights aspect of the story, as well as reading about the trials of running a veg restaurant. But I think the story needed more: more interactions between Léa and Mathieu, more dialogue between them, more information about Pervenche and the members of the vegetarian society. Overall, it's 2.5 stars from me.
Profile Image for Sara Pauff.
453 reviews7 followers
March 4, 2023
After a series of heavy, emotional and dense reads, I enjoyed a break with this brief and humorous rom-com about a carnivore and a vegetarian who fall in love. It’s a very quick read, and some of the characters and situations rely heavily on cliches (Astrid was particularly annoying). But the antics with Lea’s pet pig and Mathieu’s awkward attempts to pretend to be a vegetarian while also working for the region’s largest pork producer result in enough humor to make up for these flaws. I could easily see this book as a cute Netflix film or Hallmark movie.
Profile Image for Noelle.
322 reviews
April 15, 2018
I read this for the VSDC book club. Cute idea, but this little novel was extremely corny and predictable. The motive to get readers to go veg is not veiled in any artistic way, but repeatedly hits you over the head. For something similar, but better written, check out the memoir 'Eating Animals' by Jonathan Safran Foer.
Profile Image for Suzanne.
9 reviews2 followers
December 19, 2014
Worst book I've read in years, if not ever. Only reason I finished it was because it was short and it was my book club's selection. Boring, too simple, and weak characters. Full of food cliches.
Profile Image for Keith.
99 reviews
December 14, 2016
Entertaining, but FAR too many clichés and easy stereotypes, and SUCH A Hollywood happy ending. The translation was great though ;-)
Displaying 1 - 19 of 19 reviews

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