Synopsis: In the second edition of her book Yes Vegan!, Catherine Helayel has given us a mini guidebook on what it means to be vegan, answers to your burning questions, definitions, testimonies, and nutritional facts. Filled with studies, references, restaurant recommendations, and documentary recommendations, Helayel presents the horrors of French animal agriculture.
Review: Helayel’s book is well-referenced, nicely formatted, and easily broken down. Each section (foodstuffs, non-foodstuffs, nutrition, testimonies, and so forth) has sub-sections, which further break down the topic at hand. This book is a very well-rounded guide to veganism, for both new vegans, old vegans, and pre-vegans. That being said, I think she could have easily written a book about each and every topic that she mentioned, but given that this book is supposed to highlight various different arguments for veganism, I understand why she didn’t.
I also really liked this book for purely personal reasons, such as the fact that French is my second language and I now have a whole list of new words to use. I feel as though I can officially be an angry vegan in two languages, thanks to Helayel’s work.
Additionally, this isn’t my first book about veganism or anti-animal agriculture. Because of that, I found that I already personally knew a lot of what was being said in the book BUT that just means that somebody new to the subject will have a lot of new information. What I also really appreciated was the European/France-centric take on this book. Being an American, I mostly just know about American practices in animal agriculture, so learning about the ways that France treats animals differently was rather shocking to me.
What I also really liked about this book was how she mentioned people as well. Recently, there’s been a trend where non-vegans try to prove that vegans don’t care about the people of color who work on vegetable and fruit farms. While this book is mainly about the suffering of animals, she mentions how hard it is for factory farm workers (also predominately people of color) to work under such horrific conditions, and how tanneries tend to be located in poorer countries, and how climate change will affect predominately poorer POC.
And now would be a good time to say the disclaimer: of course, not everybody can just go vegan overnight, and some can’t go vegan at all. But if you are a person who is able to go vegan (and can speak/read French), I highly recommend reading this book. She debunks arguments, provides nutritional help, and resources to extend your quest for information. Overall, I find that Helayel does a good job discussing a subject so few people want to think about.