The Vegan Sourcebook
By Joanne Stepaniak, M.S.ED
Lowell House, Los Angeles, CA, 1998
Softcover. 352 pages. Bibliography, Index, Recipes
US $21.95; Can $30.95
Reviewed by Karen Davis, PhD
|People often say that humans have always eaten animals, as if
this is a justification for continuing the practice. According to
this logic, we should not try to prevent people from murdering
other people, since this has always been done since earliest of
--Isaac Bashevis Singer,
quoted in The Vegan Sourcebook
People who want to explore the full meaning of a vegan
lifestyle and philosophy should purchase this book. It is
beautifully written, elegant, and informative. To be vegan is to
avoid the use of animal products in one's diet, but it is more
than this, because it embraces the entire way one chooses and
wishes to live in relation to all of one's fellow creatures and
to the earth itself.
Vegans desire that the Golden Rule should be a reality and
not just a pipe dream. "And let it begin with me." For this they
are often criticized. As Maureen Koplow says in this book, "I've
been accused of being a do-gooder as though it were a bad thing
to be. My reply is that in every situation you can do good, do
bad, or do nothing. There are no rules, no laws, no guards
looking over your shoulder."
For those who think vegans are "squeamish" and weak, this
book shows the fallacy of such thinking. It takes guts as well as
imagination and self-control to look an innocent victim in the
eye at the moment of that victim's supreme suffering and
degradation at the hands of one's species. To live with this
scene as well as to confront "every day of your life the fact
that you are most definitely in the minority" is not for the
squeamish. Meanwhile, this minority grows bigger every day.
Very much, this book is about the travail of the vegan
experience as well as the joy of it. If you want to know how the
modern vegan movement got started, the author takes us there.
What I like best about this book is the immediacy of personal
experiences told in a variety of voices, including the author's,
of which mine is one among many others. We all have our stories
of "how we got here," along with the trials and rewards of
maintaining and extending our position in the world we seek to
influence. How do one's deepest sentiments get transformed into
convictions and principles of conduct, a way of life, a lifework?
The Vegan Sourcebook combines personal experiences with
history and philosophical perspectives. It looks at the earth and
at the treatment of animals. It provides a clear explanation,
including a glossary, of foods, food ingredients, and vegan
nutrition. It lists organizations, addresses and phone numbers.
It has a section of vegan recipes: breakfast, lunch, dinner,
desserts; salads, soups, breads, and spreads. Joanne Stepaniak is
the author of five internationally acclaimed cookbooks. This
book, which is a cookbook and a guide to civilized living, costs
$21.95 ($30.95 in Canada). It is worth every penny.