Intended for audiences considering adopting a vegan diet, 72 Reasons To Be Vegan provides succinct and (mostly) evidence-based advantages of veganism. 72 Reasons To Be Vegan is organized in list format. Each brief chapter is one positive element of veganism. Filled with pops of color, fun facts, and accessible writing, 72 Reasons To Be Vegan seeks to be a friendly manual for newbie vegans and the vegan-curious. Authors Gene Stone and Kathy Freston do a great job of summarizing the many different advantages of veganism – and there are many. The authors manage to take complex topics, like the plight of slaughterhouse workers, and break them down into short, easily digestible pieces of information. However, occasionally this method of summarizing information is not particularly successful.
The fast fact format of the book does not allow for the framework to further expand on complex claims. One fact in the book purports that world hunger is caused by feed going to animals used as livestock. This is feed that could otherwise go to the one in nine people that go to bed hungry every night. Yes, the meat industry is to blame for global food shortages; yet, world hunger is a result of many complex factors. Just some of these factors include national and international conflict, gender inequality, and a lack of common language to describe food shortages. Simply put, several of the issues (and subsequent “reasons to be vegan”) are not given the analysis they deserve as a result of the book’s formatting.
Coming up with 72 individual reasons for any particular diet and fitting them into one comprehensive guide is a difficult task. Despite shortcomings in the book’s formatting, there are several great nuggets of information that even long-time vegans may find poignant. One anecdote shares the story of the Barrett Farm in Wickes, Arkansas. The Barretts are victims of financial havoc wreaked by the poultry industry. The treatment of the Barretts by the profit-driven meat industry poses several questions about the impact of the meat industry on independent farmers. Ultimately, however, these pieces of information do not compensate for the book as a whole.
There are many books that cover a variety of reasons for why one should opt for a vegan diet. Perhaps trying to fit as many of these reasons as possible into one book is not the most effective means of conveying the intended information. Stone and Freston are engaging writers and 72 Reasons To Be Vegan is a quick read. However, ultimately, several of the reasons for veganism felt incomplete. The average reader interested in pursuing veganism may require a little more exposition. Thus, 72 Reasons To Be Vegan may not be the best choice when introducing others to the concept of veganism.
Olivia Radbill is an LA-based public librarian and archivist. She is a practicing vegan and animal rights advocate.