Book Review

The Food Revolution

by John Robbins

$17.95 from Conari Press. 2001
ISBN: 1-57324-702-2
Reviewed by Pattrice Le-Muire Jones
The Food Revolution

Every once in a while, a tool comes along that is so useful you wonder how you ever got along without it. John Robbins's new book, The Food Revolution, is such a tool. Subtitled "How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and the World," this book presents all of the important arguments for veganism, and plenty of facts to back up those arguments, in an easy to digest format. Friends of the chickens and other animals will find this book to be an excellent reference for themselves as well as a wonderful gift for those friends and relatives who might respond to a well-placed nudge in the right direction.

The Food Revolution begins with a comprehensive, easy to understand section on the health benefits and risks of various foods. Robbins discusses the role of specific plant-based foods in the prevention of certain diseases as well as the more general benefits associated with a balanced plant-based diet. He then surveys the very real dangers associated with consumption of animal-based foods. Taken together, these chapters represent a compelling argument that self-interest alone mandates a balanced vegan diet.

But Robbins doesn't stop with self-interest. The next section of the book covers topics close to the heart of any reader of PoultryPress: the suffering of chickens and other farmed animals and the ethical obligation to avoid participating in their exploitation. Here, again, Robbins covers all of the important issues in accessible chapters spiced with plenty of pointed facts.

The founder of EarthSave International, Robbins goes global in the third section of The Food Revolution, exploring the impact of our dietary choices on such problems as world hunger and the impending global water crisis. Because the production of animal- based foods requires more natural resources and creates more pollution than sustainable cultivation of plants for direct human consumption, both people and the planet are hurt by the insatiable appetite for meat in the US and other affluent nations.

This aspect of Robbins's book is extremely timely. The waste of food resources on the production of meat and other animal-based commodities has long been one of the chief causes of world hunger. Now the supporters of the poultry and livestock industry are promoting sharply increased meat, dairy, and egg production as a solution to world hunger. Transnational agribusiness corporations plan to increase worldwide demand for animal-based foods and to locate more of their operations in low-income nations, where they hope to be free of environmental and animal welfare regulations. If they succeed, the increase in human and nonhuman animal suffering, as well as environmental degradation, will be disastrous.

Those who support genetic engineering of plants and animals have also falsely claimed that their profit-driven technologies are needed to feed the world. Robbins addresses biotechnology in the final section of The Food Revolution, showing that sustainable cultivation of traditional food crops, rather than broccoli spiced with rat genes, is the way to feed the world while preserving the planet.

The Food Revolution is well referenced, making it an extremely useful resource for those who wish to inquire more deeply. A resource guide adds to the utility of the book, directing readers to information and organizations that can aid them in taking personal and political action on the issues raised in the text.

Pattrice Le-Muire Jones coordinates the Global Hunger Alliance, an international coalition of organizations united in opposition to the worldwide expansion of factory farming and in favor of efficient, ethical, and environmentally sustainable solutions to the problems of hunger and malnutrition. She lives in rural Maryland, where she and her partner run the Eastern Shore Chicken Sanctuary.