In the very beginning of her book Vegetarian to Vegan, Sarah Taylor makes a point of giving vegetarians credit for the ways their food choices help animals. And she should know, having been a vegetarian herself until 2002.
That’s when Sarah read John Robbins’ Diet for a New America. His groundbreaking indictment of how America’s milk and egg producers were torturing dairy animals and chickens while destroying the environment persuaded her to go vegan overnight.
She wrote Vegetarian to Vegan to give anyone wanting to make the same switch “a strong enough reason to do it.”
Without brow-beating the reader, Taylor specifically details the short, painful lives and cruel deaths of dairy cows and egg-laying chickens.
Of dairy cows, she writes that between 1950 and 2000, their numbers decreased by half — yet the amount of milk they produced more than tripled. The brutal facts?
Dairy cows live with no access to pasture.
They’re separated from their calves within two hours of giving birth.
They’re also milked by machine several times a day.
Having to yield such an excessive amount of milk is unsafe and unsanitary. Most dairy cows live lives of misery before heading to slaughter at just four years old.
Taylor’s description of egg farms reminded me of the endless stacks of crammed-full cages I’ve seen when visiting them. The hens on lower levels were covered in urine and feces. The smell was unbearable — and unforgettable.
But I’ve also seen so-called “cage-free” chickens living in terrible conditions, with dead hens littering their enclosure’s floor.
What’s worse, Taylor writes, is that egg-laying chickens often turn on each other:
“Cannibalism [among chickens] is a major problem in battery cage systems, but is even worse in free-range and cage-free systems as the hens have greater access to each other and are harder to control.”
In the book’s Part 1, Taylor also bolsters her argument for making the vegetarian-to-vegan switch by pointing out the health and environmental benefits that come from giving up dairy and eggs:
“The truth is that these products are terrible for your health, terrible for our environment, and in almost all cases, are unconscionably cruel to animals.”
In Part 2, she moves on to covering all the bases of making the change. This is where you’ll find info on:
Learning to tell healthy from junk vegan foods.
Getting enough protein, calcium and Vitamin B12 on a vegan diet.
Eating out and entertaining vegan-style.
Staying vegan away from home.
Vegan substitutes for eggs, dairy foods and honey.
Part 3 is devoted to cooking vegan, with an extensive collection of recipes and tips by vegan chef Mark Reinfeld.
For any vegetarian struggling to give up dairy and eggs, this book is one of the most important that plant-based literature has to offer!