The author stands staunchly behind his stance, but he knows he's got some serious convincing to do. The first of the book's 3 sections is about the health benefits of a vegetarian diet, the easiest sell. The numbers are staggering. For all of the major diseases we struggle with (heart disease, cancer, high cholesterol, diabetes, and more), Robbins has collected a battery of statistics that demonstrate undeniably the health advantages of going without meat.
He goes on to talk about the conditions in factory farms, offering some positively abhorrent accounts. Institutionalized torture of animals will definitely make you squeamish, but it's the talk of what they feed the animals, how unsanitarily they are raised and butchered, and how much antibiotics they they pump into them to protect agains those unsanitary conditions, that really make you consider a food revolution of your own. I had no idea the regulations our government lays down are so much more lax than those of European nations -- an unfortunate by-product of capitalism. For all the food labeling we do see, it's amazing how much we don't know about what we're eating and feeding our families.
It should be noted that this book does not read like Fast Food Nation. This is not compelling, edgy writing; there are few clever turns of phrase. However, Food Revolution is extremely well-researched, and its straightforward style makes Robbins' point clear. There are a couple moments where it does become more than a simple textbook: the description of how baby turkeys are made (it's not what you'd expect) is downright witty, and when Robbins tells the story of his encounter with a pig farmer, his voice reflects how emotional, and personal, the experience was.
It's this very pig farmer that started a change in my world. I recounted the moving story to a coworker at lunch one day last week, and since then he's completely eschewed pork and beef. I'm the one reading the book, and he's going veggie! There is something wrong with this picture. I had been reading the book more to be informed, not expecting to make any changes in my own diet. I was convinced meatless is the way to be, but was too set in my ways to do anything about it. But now there was a challenge! I'm up for it. But, recall that I'm a 'warm turkey' kind of gal -- I just don't do well with extremes. So, here are my terms:
- Lowering meat consumption in general.
- Increasing consumption of fish, seafood, tofu, and vegetable options.
- Eliminating ground beef completely, unless I know where it came from.
- Exception #1: tasting new things. If, say I'm going to the place known throughout Los Angeles to have the best carne asada in the history of mankind, I have to try it. No doubt. Although maybe I'll try a bite of someone else's, rather than 2 whole tacos. Same rules apply when traveling.
- Exception #2: I will eat whatever my mother puts in front of me. Fortunately she doesn't cook with beef, so this is not a problem. In general though, being a guest in someone's home becomes a little tricky.