One day the author's 13-year-old daughter announced that she was a vegetarian. In her Forward, Stephanie Pierson admits it was a scary moment, but after hearing her daughter's thoughts on animal rights reverence for life, she decided not to serve pot roast for dinner after all. Her experience, her research, and the knowledge she gleaned from her daughter all became the catalyst that led her to write this book.
She says that what teenage vegetarians need are "sympathetic parents, a great hummus recipe, and a couple of smart comebacks for people who can't wait to tell you that being vegetarian is stupid, silly or something you'll outgrow." And, she adds, ". . . you could use a sense of humor."
In her book, she offers detailed and well-researched historical information and also cites recent vegetarian activism. Teens reading this book will enjoy learning about famous vegetarians such as Gandhi and Leonardo da Vinci along with well known Hollywood stars like Drew Barrymore and Leonardo diCaprio. Interspersed between chapter headings are quotes from vegetarians throughout history, some humorous and some profound.
The author informs the reader that the word vegetarian has no connection to vegetables, but comes from the Latin vegetare which means "to enliven." Then she explains the various types of vegetarians from lacto-ovo to fruitarian, humorously incorporating new terminology such as semi-vegetarian, part-time vegetarian, and occasional vegetarian, recognizing that some people may be in transition.
Stephanie discusses nutrition, covering the important features of a plant-based diet with a light touch that holds the attention of her teenage readers. At the end of the nutrition chapter is a handy 2-page chart that lists good sources for important vitamins and minerals.
Chapter 3 opens with a scenario that depicts the perfect vegetarian world where all restaurants offer an array of vegetarian and vegan choices and all friends and family are completely supportive. Then the author discusses with down-to-earth reality the status of vegetarianism today and the challenges faced by young vegetarians in school and college cafeterias, restaurants, and sporting events. She then offers counsel to teenagers expressing that their path may be harshly judged by non vegetarians and offers suggestions on coping with delicate situations.
This savvy author includes information on the practical side of preparing vegetables with encouraging advice to keep it simple. In this section fruits, herbs, grains, oils, vinegars, and soy products each receive a glossary-style explanation and suggestions for use.
Stephanie's sizeable recipe section beckons with a number of delectables that have palate appeal to young people, such as the Juicy Portobello Burger or the Tempeh Reuben Sandwiches which are vegan choices, and Chili Con Queso or Grilled Fresh Mozzarella Sandwiches with Olive Paste and Roasted Red Peppers for the lacto veggies.
This author is savvy to the many questions posed by new vegetarians and covers those areas in a question-and-answer format following the recipe section. Young people asking the difference between organic and natural, the connection between sugar and animal bones, or why beans cause gas will find ready answers.
Stephanie Pierson looks to the future positively. She says, "I'm convinced that the world is going to be a better place when today's teenagers take over. Today's vegetarian teenagers, that is." She refers not only to diet but as young people learn more about vegetarianism, they teach those around them as well. This process of one teaching another brings awareness of other issues such as how to treat animals, how to protect the earth's resources, how to be more compassionate, and how to live more simply and happily. She believes that today's teens will be more open-minded and more patient in their quest to make a difference.
The finishing touch is her resources section listing suggested cookbooks, nutritionists, mail order markets, good web sites, social action organizations, restaurants across the country, and seed companies for teens who would like to grown their own vegetables. These listings are certainly a helpful addition to the book.
Vegetables Rock is a handy guide for adults as well as teens because it's so informative and totally geared to the new vegetarian. The author teaches the subject of teenage vegetarianism with light touches of humor while imparting valuable information to her young audience. It's an easy read and makes an ideal gift for a young person or the family of a teen who is in transition to a vegetarian diet.