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Vegan for the Holidays


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All the world is nuts about

    What's in The Nut Gourmet

The Nutty Gourmet

Vegetarians in Paradise

Vegetarian Books


Each issue the VIP birds endeavor to soar to the highest literary peak to peck out the most unique, informative, and accomplished book or books that contribute to vegetarian enlightenment.

This month we review two books that spotlight artistic endeavors.


Click here for review of Lola Lollipop: ANIMALS ARE EVIL

The Secret Life of Mitch Spinach

By Hillary Feerick and Jeff Hillenbrand
In Collaboration with Joel Fuhrman, M.D.
Illustrated by Andrea Vitali

Mitch Spinach Productions, Inc., 2010
Hardbound, $16.95

Mitch Spinach is a new kind of superhero. He's not faster than a speeding bullet, doesn't wear a cape, or leap tall buildings in a single bound. He's just an ordinary elementary school student with a healthy body and an alert mind because he is committed to healthy eating. You might say he is a disciple of Dr. Joel Fuhrman who played a significant role in the development of this picture book for young children.

Secret Life of Mitch Spinach Mitch's classmates, teachers, and staff at Sunchoke Elementary School all know there is something special about him. He's strong, has excellent hearing and vision, and has enhanced mental power because he eats plenty of vegetables. While his classmates are munching on chicken fingers, French fries, and pizza, Mitch rustles through his Nutripak backpack with its 14 compartments that holds an assortment of organic fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds in "temperature controlled refrigeration." The principal item in his Nutripak is a blender to make his super smoothie.

When janitor Mr. Habanaro's closet has an unexplained mess created by an unknown visitor, Mitch is called to Principal Lycopene's office to clear up the puzzle. Using his super powers, Mitch is quickly able to solve the mystery that has flummoxed the adults at the school.

Following the story is a two-page discussion titled SECRETS FOR PARENTS AND TEACHERS. We assume Dr. Fuhrman was instrumental in providing answers to the following questions that relate to the story:

  • Do spinach and other green vegetables enhance muscle function?
  • Do carrots enhance vision?
  • Can eating fruits and vegetables improve hearing?
  • How do broccoli and flax seeds enhance brain function?
A portion of this section is devoted to SOME SECRETS ABOUT A FEW OF THE CHARACTERS IN THIS BOOK: Principal Lycopene, Ms. Radicchio, and Mr. Habanero, who figure prominently in this story that occurs at Sunchoke Elementary School. The authors take the opportunity to explain the related health aspects of these names.

The book concludes with a recipe for The Mitch Spinach Super Smoothie and the address of the Mitch Spinach website http://www.MitchSpinach.com that features recipes, nutrition information, games, and Mitch Spinach secrets.

Vegetarian parents will be delighted with The Secret Life of Mitch Spinach because of its emphasis on nutrition in an era where child obesity has almost become the norm. Attractively illustrated by the dynamic drawings of Andrea Vitali, the book presents a new kind of superhero that children can admire and emulate. The authors promise this volume as the first in a series of adventures of Mitch Spinach. Young children as well as adults like us look forward to his further adventures.



Lola Lollipop: ANIMALS ARE EVIL

By Lara Matthews

Greenbright Publishing, 2010
Paperback, $19.95


Lola Lollipop: ANIMALS ARE EVIL "Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets" is the opening line of the song made famous in the musical Damn Yankees. In the case of Lola Lollipop: ANIMALS ARE EVIL, this Lola wishes she could get what she wants: a world where everyone is vegan and no one kills and eats animals. The title of this work is ironic because the author wants to reflect the sarcasm present in the Lola Lollipop cartoon strips she draws.

As author/cartoonist Lara Matthews describes her, Lola is a "little girl who eats." She has "a curious obsession with health, nutrition, and animals." These traits often place her in conflict with her older brother and her parents. The cartoon strip's humor often evolves out of these familiar family conflicts.

Each of the 58 cartoons is accompanied by a related quotation attributed to a well-known person. By indexing these quotes by author at the end of the book, Lara has created a volume of vegan-related quotations as a major part of this work. The book is organized into major chapters covering topics like Animals, Life, Animal Cruelty, Death, Vegetarianism, Humanity, The Future, and Integrity with each division featuring quotations and cartoons. To add interest to pages that do not feature cartoons, the author provides small whimsical drawings to enhance the visual appeal of the book.

Within each of the chapters Lara considers subjects like Animal Rights, Speciesism, Factory Farms, World Peace, Ethics and Morals, Compassion, and Karma. She deals with each of these subjects, not in an attack mode but with a wry look through Lola's eyes and idealistic demeanor. In all instances Lara through her central character, Lola, tells the story in a mere three frames.

In dealing with animal suffering, for example, Lola asks her mother, "Mom, how come it's okay to eat cows, pigs, and chickens, not dogs and cats?"

Lola Lollipop: ANIMALS ARE EVIL Her mother responds, "Sweetie, everybody knows that cute, fuzzy animals feel more pain."

When Lola advises her father, "Dad--you should really eat more broccoli. It's good for your heart!"

"Honey--your father has an excellent health care plan," he answers.


In Lola Lollipop: ANIMALS ARE EVIL, Lara Matthews shuns the idea of delivering the vegan message too stridently. Instead of writing essays or articles, she utilizes the medium of the cartoon strip with only a minimum of words to convey her thoughts and feelings about animal issues and vegetarianism. Her use of irony and sarcasm give the book that edgy appeal that makes this work so charming. Lara's ideas are presented in a humorous and engagingly drawn package that readers will enjoy and even want to share with their friends and families.

Click here for past book reviews


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