Mad Cowboys, Skinny Bitches, and Vegan Freaks: 10 Books for Your Cruelty-Free Diet Library

These vegan volumes offer much more than food for thought.

Vegans do a lot more than just chomp on sprouts and suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous myths. They often read books and sometimes, they even write them. Attempting to offer a definitive list of such books is a fool's game so I've opted to save cookbooks and animal rights issues for two future lists. For now, I'll simply focus on 10 specifically vegan books upon which your food fact foundation can be built.

You've got the scientific and the snarky, the classics and lesser known--but it all adds up to the type of documented information one needs when making decisions about something as fundamental as eating. Did I leave out some excellent book choices? Of course. Feel free to let us know which vegan books have changed your life and lifestyle. Until then, here are...

10 Ways to Make Your Bookshelf Blossom

1. Diet for a New America: How Your Food Choices Affect Your Health, Happiness, and the Future of Life on Earth, by John Robbins (1987)

Author John Robbins--who turned his back on his family's Baskin-Robbins fortune to spread the word about veganism--opens with this line: "I was born into the heart of the Great American Food Machine." For the next 400 or so pages, he connects the dots and peels away the thin veneer of normalcy...as he explains how the purveyors of that machine "don't want you to know how the animals have lived whose flesh, milk, and eggs end up in your body."

2. Food Revolution: How Your Diet Can Help Save Your Life and the World, by John Robbins (2001)

Robbins brings his vegan knowledge and passion into the 21st century with this book--including chapters on GMOs, global warming, and mad cow disease.

3. Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won't Eat Meat, by Howard Lyman (2001)

An exposé in the tradition of Upton Sinclair? Sure. But to leave it at that would be to ignore that charm of author Howard Lyman. A Montana cattle rancher turned plant eater, Lyman is an intelligent and charismatic vegan spokesperson.

4. The Face on Your Plate: The Truth About Food, by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson (2009)

I just as easily could've chosen Masson's amazing When Elephants Weep: The Emotional Lives of Animals, but this one is more strictly vegan-related. In his familiar lyrical and moving prose, Masson tells the truth about consuming animal products.

5. Plant Roots: 101 Reasons Why the Human Diet is Rooted Exclusively in Plants, by Rex Bowlby (2004)

Readable, often funny, and never condescending, Bowlby's 101 reasons will bowl you over with the evidence you'll need to facilitate your own personal lifestyle revolution and/or reaching out to others seeking direct paths toward earth-friendly justice.

6. The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss and Long-Term Health, by T. Colin Campbell, Thomas M Campbell II (2005)

Drawing on the project findings in rural China, but going far beyond those findings, the authors detail the connection between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. The report also examines the source of nutritional confusion produced by powerful lobbies, government entities, and opportunistic scientists.

7. Skinny Bitch, by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin (2005)

As the authors say: "If you can't take one more day of self-loathing, you're ready to hear the truth: You cannot keep shoveling the same crap into your mouth every day and expect to lose weight."

8. Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World, by Bob Torres and Jenna Torres (Revised, 2009)

Team Torres provide the tips, advice, stories, and comprehensive lists of resources you need to get in touch with your inner freak and thrive in a society conditioned toward "normal."

9. The Scientific Basis of Vegetarianism, by William Harris, MD (1995)

Dr. Harris pulls no punches: "All the essential organic nutrients required in the human diet (essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, and vitamins) are made by plants and micro-organisms, not by animals ... Documented benefits of a pure vegetarian (vegan) lifestyle include permanent reduction in weight, blood pressure, serum cholesterol, and blood sugar, as well as risk reduction for cardiovascular disease and half a dozen common forms of cancer. Allergies, arthritis, and asthma also respond to vegan nutrition, which means no meat, fish, chicken, dairy, eggs, or even honey."

10. 101 Reasons I'm a Vegetarian, by Pamela Rice (Eighth edition, 2009)

If you've ever wanted the facts that will shut down all anti-vegan arguments, ask Pamela Rice, founder of the Veg Pride Parade in New York City. This classic is updated annually and makes a perfect gift for the curious folks in your life.

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