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.

Sabrina Potirala

Contributing Writer

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

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Your Money or Your Life: 9 Steps to Transforming Your Relationship with Money and Achieving Financial Independence: Revised and Updated for the 21st Century

“There is a way to live an authentic, productive, meaningful life—and have all the material comforts you want or need. There is a way to balance your inner and outer lives, to have your job self be on good terms with your family self and your deeper self. There is a way to go about the task of making a living so that you end up more alive. There is a way to approach life so that when asked, ‘Your money or your life?’ you say, ‘I’ll take both, thank you.’ ”

Is your life reflecting your values? Are you working hard for “stuff” you really don’t want or need? Authors Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez guide you to take a look at what really matters to you, then make changes that honor your higher purpose.

If you value the planet you live on, but you’re spending on frivolous, energy-sucking toys that largely sit unused, or paying the excess cost of a dripping faucet just because it’s easier to let it run, then your money isn’t working to support your values. As Susan Roothaan, from A Nurtured World, suggests in Save the Planet (and Money) by Living Your Values, this book will help you examine how you’re exchanging your life energy for “stuff” that doesn’t bring fulfillment.

Give it a read. Pretty soon you’ll be looking at your money — and your life — in a whole new light.

Read it on Amazon’s Kindle in a minute or less:
Your Money or Your Life

Don’t have Kindle? Buy it here:

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

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Easy Green Living: The Ultimate Guide to Simple, Eco-Friendly Choices for You and Your Home

December 25, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Books, Front Page, Green Cleaning

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“Choosing to be green is not just about the far-flung corners of the planet or generations that have yet to be born,” writes Renée Loux, “it’s about immediately improving our lives and the quality of living every day. The brilliant beauty of being green is that it not only serves the planet, it also serves us.”

In Easy Green Living: The Ultimate Guide to Simple, Eco-Friendly Choices for You and Your Home, Loux shows the way to make practical and healthy choices that will do just as she says: help the planet and improve your life. When you read what Loux has to say about how to be green, you know you’re reading from a reliable source; Loux is the host of Easy Being Green on Fine Living TV. From green cleaners to efficient lighting to healthy products for your bathroom, she walks you through how to make your home a greener — and safer — place to live.

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

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Wake Up and Smell the Planet: The Non-Pompous, Non-Preachy Grist Guide to Greening Your Day

December 24, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Books, Family, Front Page

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Ready for a good laugh? Want to learn something at the same time? Then Grist’s book on how to save the planet is a must for your reading list. Grist’s take on the environment makes learning how to be green an entertaining experience. All day long, you have choices to make, and they really do make a difference. If your interest lies in shrinking your footprint and making the world a more inhabitable place, you’ll want to read this book.

Julia Wasson

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)

Let’s Talk Toilets

December 22, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Front Page, Slideshow, Tips, Water, Water Use

Toilets account for almost 30 percent of residential indoor water use in the United States. They’re also a major source of wasted water due to leaks and inefficiency. Unless a replacement has been installed, in a home built prior to 1993, each toilet likely uses 3 1/2 gallons — or more — for every flush.

Old-fashioned toilets waste water. Photo: Joe Hennager

Old-fashioned toilets use as much as 7 gallons per flush. Photo: Joe Hennager

Experts say that the minimum amount of clean water needed to meet the basic human needs of drinking, cooking and hygiene is 5 gallons per person per day. That’s far short of enough to ensure health and well-being; it’s barely enough to get by. But do we really need to flush nearly an entire day’s minimum requirement each time we go “number one”?

In the beginning of modern toilets, the 7-gallon, flushing, porcelain lavatory was the throne of choice. That was followed by the low-flush, or low-flow, toilet. Unfortunately, it often took several low-flow flushes to get the bowl clean.

As it turned out, low-flush toilets used more water than the old faithful lavatory. Enter the new and improved low-flush toilet, which was better at water conservation, but didn’t always get the job done.

In recent years, the high-efficiency toilet (HET) has arrived on the bathroom scene. Consumers now have an option to use as little as 0.8 gallons using a dual-flush toilet. The best part is that they really work.

What Are High-Efficiency Toilets?

Low flush toilets are a better option than old-fashioned porcelain thrones. Photo: Julia Wasson

Low flush toilets provide savings over the 7-gallon models. Photo: Julia Wasson

Under federal law, toilets sold in the United States today must not exceed 1.6 gallons per flush (gpf). High-efficiency toilets (HETs) go beyond the standard, using less than 1.3 gpf. You can identify an HET by the WaterSense label it carries. These labels can only be used on HETs that are certified by independent laboratory testing to meet rigorous criteria for both performance and efficiency. The WaterSense program is sponsored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Do High Efficiency Toilets Work?

Everyone is concerned about the performance of low-flow toilets. Do they clear the bowl and leave it clean? Do they stop up frequently? Unlike the first 1.6 gallon/flush toilets, WaterSense HETs combine high efficiency with high performance. Advances in toilet design permit WaterSense HETs to save water without loss of flushing power. In fact, many perform better than standard toilets in consumer testing.

How Much Water and Money Do HETs Save?

High efficiency toilets save you money by reducing your water and wastewater costs. Over the course of a lifetime, an average person flushes the toilet nearly 140,000 times. By installing a WaterSense HET, you can save 4,000 gallons per year. Young children can each conserve about a third of a million gallons during their lifetime.

If a family of four replaces one 3.5 gpf toilet made between 1980 and 1994 with a WaterSense toilet, they can save $2,000 over the life of the toilet. If the toilet being replaced was made before 1980, it uses 5 gallons per flush, so the savings will be much greater.

A high-efficiency toilet saves water and money. Photo: Caroma

A high-efficiency toilet saves water and money. Photo: Caroma

With these savings, new high-efficiency toilets can pay for themselves in only a few years. Even better, many local utilities offer substantial rebates for replacing old toilets with HETs. Rebates for high-efficiency toilets are available in many US states and Canadian provinces.

What are Dual Flush Toilets?

Dual flush toilets use 0.8 gallons per flush for liquid waste and 1.6 gallons per flush for solids. They can save up to 40% (approx. 4,600 gallons) compared to today’s standard 1.6-gallon, single-flush toilets. On an average of 4/1 uses a day, dual-flush toilets have the lowest water consumption of all: 0.96 gallons per flush.

Beware of some products that reduce the amount of water flushed in an existing toilet. Existing bowls are not designed to perform with reduced amounts of water, so the likelihood of clogging your toilet while you are trying to flush paper and solid waste increases drastically.

Select a WaterSense-Labeled, High-Efficiency Toilet

Whether you’re remodeling a bathroom, beginning construction of a new house, or just want to replace an old, inefficient toilet, a WaterSense-labeled HET is your best bet. Look for the WaterSense label on any toilet you buy.

Look for the EPA WaterSense logo on high-efficiency toilets.

Note that some manufacturers offer high-efficiency and regular-style models with very similar names, so be sure to look for the WaterSense label. A list of WaterSense-labeled high-efficiency toilets and other plumbing products is provided by the EPA.

If every home in the United States replaced just one old toilet with a new HET, we would conserve almost one trillion (spelled with a T) gallons of water per year. That’s equal to more than two weeks of the water flowing over Niagara Falls.

Andrea Paulinelli

Contributing Writer

Blue Planet Green Living