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Book Reviews

30 Day Vegan Challenge by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

Book Review:
The 30-Day Vegan Challenge
by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
review by Marla Rose

The CliffsNotes version: Buy this book. Buy it for your friends. Buy it for your loved ones. Buy it for the local crossing guard. Buy it for your favorite pilates instructor. Buy it for anyone you’re indifferent to but would like to live a little longer. Buy it for yourself, even if you’re already vegan. Need more convincing? (You’re really going to make me work for this, aren’t you?) Fine. Read on.

Last year, prolific author, podcaster, speaker, and internationally recognized vegan rockstar Colleen Patrick-Goudreau held a wildly successful crowd-sourced fundraiser to publish a revised edition of a book of hers that had gone out of print a couple of years prior, The 30-Day Vegan Challenge. Republishing this revised book - full of new recipes and content, jam-packed with gorgeous photography and so much attention to detail - was a fantastic use of the crowd-source platform. Brimming with hands-on, practical and eminently useful guidance on the whys, and, most significantly, the hows of gracefully transitioning into a confident, committed vegan over a 30-day time span, The 30-Day Vegan Challenge: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Healthfully and Living Compassionately is one of the best resources I have ever seen for creating a world of compassionate, empowered and ethically-mindful individuals. From the first page until the last, Colleen hits all the right notes, carefully guiding fledgling aspiring herbivores through the process until they are ready to soar on their own with self-assurance. Yes, after 30 days, readers will still have to live in a world that is profoundly adapted to normalizing the commodification of animals; after the 30-Day Challenge, though, they will be well-equipped to not only face it but thrive in it.

For starters, the layout of The 30-Day Vegan Challenge is wonderfully well-organized throughout, preparing readers for the weeks ahead, and then taking them through each day, starting with simply spending a day re-conceptualizing what we think of when we think of “vegan food” (in other words, even dedicated omnivores are already eating it sometimes) and ending with living as a joyful vegan in a non-vegan world. Sandwiched between these two sturdy bookends, readers have 28 more days worth of strategies, recipes, information, tips, education and confidence-building from someone who is both really deft at navigating this world as a vegan and really skillful at coaching others in how to do the same. The chapters on Eating Out and Speaking Up (Day 9) and Celebrating the Holidays and Honoring Your Values (Day 26) are so helpful and thorough, they are worth the price of the book alone, but there are also excellent sections on increasing iron absorption, traveling as a vegan, demystifying tofu and stocking a healthful vegan kitchen to name just a fraction of the topics. Each day (or chapter) is full of reliable information, and ordered in such a way that there is a seamless, graceful leading from one to the next, as people gain experience and confidence. No stone is left unturned. It’s written with a friendly, welcoming tone, too, one that reveals a skillful author and mentor in possession of both wisdom and understanding. It’s never didactic or preachy, which is so important in getting people to drop their defenses around this often very touchy subject.

The layout, too, is perfect: it’s clear that a lot of time, effort and thought went into creating a book that is beautiful to look at but also simple and intuitive to navigate. There are colorful sidebars throughout that sum up the point of each section, called “Challenge Your Thinking,” often accompanied with suggestions called “Change Your Behavior,” that offer simple ideas for creating change. If that’s not enough, there are Colleen’s reliably enticing recipes (this is the woman who wrote The Joy of Vegan Baking,after all), covering everything from starters (like Socca with Balsamic Mushrooms and Kale), beverages (like Green Machine Smoothie), main dishes (like Pasta Alfredo with Walnut Parmesan), side dishes (like Chipotle Roasted Chickpeas), soups (like Smoky White Bean Chowder), salads/dressings/sauces (like Fish-Friendly Tuna Salad) and treats/snacks/baked goods (like Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins). With an approach that emphasizes whole foods and the best nutritional bang at every opportunity without sacrificing taste – life is supposed to be enjoyed! – anyone can enjoy most of these recipes regardless of individual differences but there are also suggestions for modifying ingredients if necessary. Seriously, I get light-headed thinking of the work that went into this book and also its potential for guiding people to put their ideals about compassionate living into practice. For those who are already vegan, I can tell you, the book is worth it for the more than 100 recipes and meal ideas, the in-depth information, and, if nothing else, the opportunity to revel in and soak up the communication skills of a powerfully skilled, infectiously positive vegan messenger. 

A hardcover with a cheerful, classic design, beautiful photography, smart structure, great recipes and priceless wisdom woven throughout from one of our leading movers-and-shakers, this is a book that is worth its weight in gold. Or organic kale, if you prefer. You will not be disappointed. Want to take it up a notch? Complement the book with a membership in Colleen’s online multimedia program, which also offers recipes, podcasts, discussion groups, videos and daily messages. You can’t go wrong.

As Colleen says early on, “It’s a matter of undoing old habits and creating new ones.” That’s the whole transformation at its crux but, as we know, change is simple on the surface but difficult and intimidating for many to accomplish. With this book, Colleen will be your guide as you embark on the indescribably rewarding journey to manifest your compassion for other living beings. This book is an absolute treasure, an invaluable resource, and I highly recommend it.

2013-2015, Vegan Street

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