This month we feature a meticulously researched work that presents insightful and persuasive arguments for adopting a vegetarian lifestyle.
101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian
By Pamela Rice
Lantern Books, 2005
Anyone wanting to defend the choice for adopting a vegetarian lifestyle, need look no further than 101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian. Pamela Rice, founder of the Vegetarian Resource Center in New York City and editor of The VivaVine: The Vegetarian Issues Magazine, has assembled a voluminous amount of research to make a convincing case for vegetarianism.
Rice's activism in the vegetarian movement began in 1991 when she founded the VivaVegie Society, an educational organization that focused on publishing projects and community outreach. One of their principal accomplishments was the establishment of the first vegetarian center in the United States in 1999. This book is an outgrowth of the pamphlet "101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian" distributed by her group in New York City since 1991.
Readers searching for specific categories, chapters, or sections devoted to different issues involved in vegetarianism won't find that arrangement in this book. In the introduction Rice states, " By design, I have taken away that which otherwise might have offered a user-friendly function in order to present the big picture. As far as I am concerned, there is only one category here: vegetarianism."
As a concession to those who want the information categorized, the author presents a mini-index she labels, "Reasons by category." She divides this index into the following 11 areas and indicates those pages in the book with information on each topic:
In all of her reasons Rice indicates the sources for the factual materials she presents. In Reason 69 called "Gastroenteric emissions," subtitled "BURPING COWS HEAT THE PLANET," she has 27 references to support her argument that methane gas from burping cows is a major contributor to global warming.
By contrast Reason 100 "Longevity matters," subtitled TAKING OUR DIET FOR ALL IT'S WORTH, has only 3 references because it is a synopsis of Dr. Michael Greger's lecture, "Optimum vegetarian nutrition: Surprising new research on omega-3's and vitamin B12." In his lecture Dr. Greger advises vegans and vegetarians to "eat two tablespoons of ground flax seeds every day to obtain a healthy omega-6/omega-3 balance." He also encourages vegans and vegetarians to be sure to take a total of 2000 micrograms of vitamin B12 per week either with supplements or fortified foods.
Most of the arguments are delivered in two pages, some even less, very few more than three. Each begins with a quote related to the argument. Most have clever titles such as Pick your poisson, Dairy be wary, Apocalypse then, Heavy petting, and Feces fiasco.
In 101 Reasons Why I'm a Vegetarian. Rice succeeds in her mission: "My goal for this book is not to argue with people's belief (futile endeavor in any case) but to appeal to our capacity for reason." There is no harangue here; all the statements are supported by evidence.
She is to be commended for creating a book with a multitude of functions. It can be a reference sourcebook for vegetarians seeking more information to support their beliefs. As a browsing volume, it offers easy-to-read capsules that can be sampled at various times. There is no compelling need to read the volume from cover to cover as one reads a novel or most nonfiction works. Even though it is missing illustrations and photographs, it could serve as a coffee table book to pique the curiosity of non-vegetarian visitors.
Reviewed November 2005