A deep empathy for animals informs and supports a convert’s plea for a meat-free lifestyle.
Parisella’s debut effort, equal parts pitch, memoir and diet plan, argues that all creatures deserve a life free of human-created suffering. Like his beloved dogs, food animals—pigs, cows, ducks, etc.—feel pain and emotional distress; if they could speak to us, they would say, “Stop eating us.” In addition to frequent appeals to empathize with other creatures, he includes references to animal-advocate websites (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and Mercy for Animals) as well as diet authorities (The China Study, Forks Over Knives, etc.) and doctors (the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) to bolster his stand that vegetarianism is also a matter of self-interest: Less pollution, better health, a sounder economic base and so on. A recent convert, he ignores other dietary demons (sugar, soybeans, junk food) and sounds familiar to other believers: “Our lust for animal flesh is also compromising our health. It’s inducing chronic inflammation in our cells, clogging our arteries, slowing our digestion, contributing to colon cancer, and making us fat.” Change, however, doesn’t mean sacrifice, he argues. He and his wife, accustomed to lavish living on corporate expense accounts in New York City, learned a new, delicious way of eating, thanks in part to her creativity in the kitchen, in which they didn’t have to give up sophisticated culinary tastes or dining at fine restaurants. As he asserts, they can no longer walk by supermarket meat sections without shuddering over “dead animal body parts.” An illustrative diet plan offered for the first month leans heavily on cereal, lentil soup, meatless ground meat, Portobello mushrooms, and Trader Joe’s products accompanied by red wine, beer or a dry martini. Parisella wisely advises readers to think of vegetarian eating as a “switch” rather than a “sacrifice” that will benefit health, affect change via supply and demand, and make many animals happy. Although at times facile and repetitious, this chatty, readable exhortation on an important topic gives a quick and easy introduction to a meat-free lifestyle.
Healthy food for thought that might win a few converts.