It was bound to happen anyway, but Alicia Silverstone made me vegan. Her new book, The Kind Diet, is a cookbook, yes, but the first half is dedicated to a surprisingly readable, occasionally affably ditzy, and heartfelt argument as to why one should consider the benefits of a "plant-based diet," which—unbelievably redundant as it may seem—is the politically correct way of saying "vegan."
And she's... pretty correct. The girl we know best as teen queen Cher Horowitz of Clueless hits all the necessary points, and doesn't shy away from the vanity and sentimental angles so often downplayed in the big league dialogue surrounding food politics. Referencing that she was at one time publicly ridiculed for chubbiness (I don't remember that either) and that she once had to re-shoot a film scene because her acne was so bad, Silverstone swears that giving up animal products in your diet will chase such worries away. And although she's clearly done her homework on the environmental impact and the unhealthy consequences of American food production, one of her most compelling arguments is simply that the killing and treatment of animals on farms—any farms—is mean, contending that every child is born loving animals, and that the cultivation of hard heartedness toward animals as a rite of maturity is an unnecessary injustice perpetrated by society. Charmingly, she has a point.
Even more so than Silverstone's intellectual prodding, The Kind Diet's appeal owes much to its author's casual, no-pressure approach. She bends over backward to congratulate the reader on even considering a change in their eating habits, and cheers along those who adopt her instructions for "saving the world." Split up into three basic sections designed for those "flirting" with a vegan lifestyle, vegans who still eat a lot of processed food and animal-product substitutes, and "superheroes" who eschew convenience food in favor of a whole grain and plant diet, with a sprinkling of macrobiotic practices like avoiding tomatoes (who knew?) and curing hangovers with umeboshi plums (don't ask), Silverstone thoroughly outlines everything from cooking around a busy schedule to how to arrange your fridge. With levelheaded practicality peppered with childish outbursts ("Yummy!" shows up a lot), Silverstone makes superhero status look easy, logical, and cost effective—seriously, don't laugh. Way to go, Alicia.