This free e-book from Vegan publishers by Casey Taft aims to destroy the common myths about veganism and promote domestic harmony on the basis that “the more we are able to communicate about the things that matter to us, the closer we will be as families and as a society”.

The nearest he gets to propaganda is when countering the malicious accusation that vegans care more about animals than people. Taft explains that veganism is about much more than just food but is a lifestyle choice which “emphasizes kindness and compassion toward all living things and bettering one’s health and the environment to improve conditions for humans and other animals now and in the future”.

The thrust of his argument is that this philosophy can be likened to a form of religious belief : “It is important to be mindful of the fact that the diet of a vegan may be important to them in the same way that a kosher diet would be to an Orthodox Jew”.

He argues convincingly that the vegan diet contains sufficient proteins and vitamins to keep us fit and healthy. He does,however, concede that taking B12 supplements may be necessary, particularly for women who are pregnant (although personally I’d advocate a higher consumption of Marmite!).

The vegan in my family is my 17-year-old daughter who has maintained this diet for over two years now. As she has also suffered from eating disorders, the major concern my wife and I had was not with the ethical questions but over the worry that she was attracted to veganism purely as a restrictive diet that would keep her thin.

If this was part of its appeal at the outset, thankfully this is no longer the case as she has become a creative cook and gained more knowledge about maintaining a good nutritional balance.

Most of the issues raised by Taft’s book don’t ,therefore, apply to me. As someone who has been a vegetarian for 38 years (including a two-year period as a vegan) I am the last person to criticise her choice.

I date my decision to revert back to straight vegetarianism from the moment I discovered many wines and beers (including Guinness!) are not vegan friendly since they use isinglass from fish bladders as a clearing agent.

The commitment to veganism means accepting sacrifices, being prepared to spend time reading the small print of food packaging and accepting that eating out in restaurants or with friends can be a nutritional minefield.

Taft’s concise, jargon-free book is a useful reminder that on all three counts (and more) vegans deserve respect rather than ridicule.

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