Book Review – Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin
The following book review contains material that may be disturbing to some readers, due to references to animal cruelty that are an integral part of the book under discussion. — Publisher
Generally, I’m put off by diet books, because most seem to favor eating one food group over the other; which, commonsense-wise, doesn’t make much sense. Yet Skinny Bitch, by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin, was a provocative read exactly because it’s not your average diet book. This short, but extremely powerful, book may have a cheeky overtone, but at its heart you can tell the authors are passionate about what they preach. Although factory farming and animal cruelty are the driving points behind their book, no detail escapes these self-proclaimed skinny bitches. Alcohol, caffeine, refined sugar, bleached flour, chemical additives like aspartame and many others, also make the no-no food list.
The authors’ philosophy is to get back to the basics — the time before artificial flavorings and harmful chemicals were incorporated into our foods. Freedman and Barnouin have devised a simple plan to help people lose weight by focusing on this traditional ideology: You are what you eat.
What does that mean exactly? To lose weight you must eat healthy. Or, in the authors’ words, “every time you put crap in your body, you are crap.” But Skinny Bitch is more about a lifestyle rather than a traditional diet, as it advocates veganism and natural foods.
If you are not already a vegan — or, at minimum, a vegetarian — chances are this book will make you want to become one. Skinny Bitch extensively explores the corruption and cruelty involved in the meat industry. You’ll read heart-wrenching testimonies from slaughterhouse workers guilty of the worst type of crimes against animals. Traditionally, so-called “humane” slaughter methods include stunning an animal by shooting a metal bolt into its skull before hanging it upside down and slitting its throat. Yet, the accounts also tell of unspeakable killings — hogs beaten to death with metal pipes or stabbed in the face with a butcher’s knife, cows raped with broomsticks by the workers, and baby chicks stomped to death. Despite the fact that I was already aware of some of the practices that go on behind closed doors at slaughterhouses, the book evoked in me an extreme sadness and anger. Certainly, this type of serial killer identity must not be true for every slaughterhouse employee, but it sure seemed so to me after reading Skinny Bitch.
The authors also bring to light new reasons to go vegan. Even though I am already a vegetarian, Freedman and Barnouin made powerful arguments about why vegetarianism is not enough, if you want to live a healthy, cruelty-free life. One part of the book that especially struck me was the description of cows’ udders being milked by metal clamps. I had always known this, but what I personally failed to consider was that no one is supervising this. The cows’ udders become sore and infected, and pus forms around the area; yet the machines keep milking, pulling dead white blood cells and pus from the udder, along with the milk. Not only is it cruel, it’s just plain gross.
Many people also know that animals are both fed and come into contact with hormones, pesticides, chemicals, and steroids throughout their lives. But what you might not know is that even unfertilized eggs contain these harmful substances. When a pregnant woman drinks alcohol or uses drugs, her unborn child is affected by those substances; similarly, antibiotics and other chemicals injected into hens are found in the eggs they lay that are sold for human consumption.
Skinny Bitch also explores how health organizations, such as the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), put business first and the health and well being of people second. One example in the book tells how milk was included in the Food Pyramid solely because milk is such a profitable market.
Freedman and Barnouin discuss how the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine claimed that the USDA Dietary Guidelines were racist for including dairy products so prominently on the Food Pyramid, since most nonwhites are lactose-intolerant. According to Johnson & Johnson, lactose intolerance affects “over 50 percent of the Hispanic population, 75 percent of Native Americans, 80 percent of African Americans, and 90 percent of Asian Americans.“ Yet, instead of advocating for alternatives, such as rice milk or soy milk, the dairy industry uses the USDA guidelines to convince consumers that milk products are an essential element in their diet. They effectively push people into buying and taking Lactaid, manufactured by McNeil Nutritionals (a Johnson & Johnson company) so they can continue consuming (i.e., purchasing) milk products. The reader learns that similar practices are all too common in the meat industry, as well.
Skinny Bitch preaches using your head to think about what you are eating, as opposed to giving in to what government agencies and the agricultural industry want you to think about their product. Above all else, Freedman and Barnouin tell you to think. Meat is simply dead, decomposing flesh. Processed foods have been stripped of their nutrition. Cow’s milk and goat’s milk were designed for offspring of their own kind. An egg is designed to be fertilized and become an embryo. When you actually do consider it, none of the food you once found appealing remains so. The authors encourage you to find alternatives. If you are accustomed to eating animals, choose another source of protein. If you like refined sugars and foods filled with artificial flavors, consider something natural and healthier, such as agave nectar. Check ingredient lists and make your own decisions about whether to trust a food that contains ingredients you can’t even pronounce. Again, use your head.
Perhaps you are considering going vegan and aren’t sure what to cook. As a bonus, the end of Skinny Bitch includes a month’s worth of vegan recipes you can easily make. If the suggestions at the end of the book aren’t enough for you, be sure to check-out the sequel, Skinny Bitch in the Kitch: Kick-Ass Recipes for Hungry Girls Who Want to Stop Cooking Crap (and Start Looking Hot!) to get an even more extensive step-by-step recipe guide for healthy, cruelty-free meals.
Skinny Bitch is a book everyone should read. It transcends traditional diet ideology by teaching that being healthy is more important than being skinny, and to always love the body you have. By engaging in a vegan lifestyle, you can become the person you always wanted to be, not only physically, but mentally and spiritually as well. No longer will you feel guilty about contributing to animal rights violations or overindulging in unhealthy foods. Your body is your temple, and after reading this book, you will certainly treat it that way.
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