Now that Memorial Day has come and gone, here at PETA Prime, our thoughts have turned to summertime fun: vegan cookouts with friends, picnics in the park, concocting new flavors of vegan ice cream, and the best beach reads. (See? We don’t think only about food.) We know that many of you out there are readers, too, so we’ve decided to launch our very own PETA Prime Book Club. It’ll be just like Oprah’s Book Club, only better, because we’ll focus on some of the most informative and entertaining reads in the animal world. Check back every month or so for a new review, pick up a copy of the book, and once you’ve had a chance to read it, share your thoughts in the comments section.
Ready to get started? Then grab a glass of “Georgia Peach” iced tea and a copy of Ellen Kanner‘s Feeding the Hungry Ghost: Life, Faith, and What to Eat for Dinner. (OK, we do think about food quite a bit.) The book takes its title from the Tao concept of humans who are so clingy and clutchy that they’re still hungry even beyond the grave. “Hungry ghosts are assuaged by prayer and food,” Kanner writes. “The same things do the trick for hungry mortals, too. We are hungry for so much more than food.”
Kanner’s book is a welcome invitation to slow down and reexamine our relationship with what we eat. Dinner is about more than just filling up our stomachs—or it can be. Through a collection of thoughtful essays and tempting vegan recipes, all arranged by the seasons, Kanner shows readers how reconnecting with our food—whether it’s by planting a backyard vegetable garden, choosing a real apple instead of some dicey fast-food “apple” fritter, or honoring our ancestors with dishes that have been passed down through generations—can nourish both body and spirit.
Does that sound like a bunch of New Age mumbo jumbo? Don’t worry: It’s not like that. If you’re a fan of Kanner’s Huffington Post column, you know that she is nothing if not irreverent and wickedly funny. Case in point: Have you ever laughed out loud while reading the ingredients list for a recipe? I did when I came across this line in the recipe for Haitian Soupe Joumou: “1/4 cup minced fresh garlic (yeah, 1/4 cup—got a problem?).”
In addition to this healthy take on the traditionally meaty Haitian soup, you’ll find recipes for vegetable paella; cardamom apple crumble; DIY matzo; pumpkin, poblano, and spinach tacos; wild mushroom salad; chocolate cake; ful mudammas (fava beans); and other globally inspired dishes. When your garden is overflowing with tomatoes, try Summer Tomato Salad With Za’atar (a blend of sumac, thyme, and sesame seeds that you can find in Middle Eastern markets). When you need comfort, there’s Deep, Basic Comfort Lentil Soup. And when you need to relax and reflect, make a cup of Ahimsa Chai.
Prime readers are probably familiar with the concept of ahimsa: doing no harm to any living being. But as Kanner reminds us:
“Ahimsa is not the same as sit-on-your-ass passivity. When supreme love guides everything you do, it is actually the ultimate power. At least that’s the theory. Perfect ahimsa is not possible because we’re not made perfect. No sense going around trying to act more ahimsa than thou. All we can do is practice ahimsa with humility and strive to get it more right than wrong most days.”
Feeding the Hungry Ghost will help you get it right.
I hope you’ll pick up a copy of Kanner’s witty and wise book. Then check back here and leave a comment telling other Prime readers what you think.
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Relax with good book! Enjoy and share these insightful, fascinating books. The PETA Prime book club selections cover a range of animal rights issues and animal-friendly content.