The most badass and fun book on going vegan I recommend so far!

I’m stoked my local library had a copy of John Lewis‘s first book, Badass Vegan, which I’ve wanted to get my hands on for a while. I’ve followed John on Instagram for a while; he’s one of the coolest and funniest vegans online.

A lot of vegan content I come across daily is serious, and it’s important to be happy as a vegan (or aspiring vegan) too. He came to Vancouver for the Planted Expo in 2022 so I could have met him in person, but I was too afraid to say hello then. ????

Published by Penguin Random House in 2023, the book is equal parts memoir, instructional, educational, and cookbook and the most fun vegan cookbook I’ve seen since Bad Manners. A now 15-year vegan, Lewis is 6’6″ and a 240 pound baller athlete. Not the stereotypical malnourished hippie that most carnivores associate with veganism.


Part I: Badass Vegan’s 90-day system for going vegan

Part I outlines who the book is for and John’s 3-month system for going (and staying) vegan. But first he talks about how he used to be overweight and initially gave up meat for health reasons, then dairy and eggs after his mother was diagnosed with colon cancer.

He says that on day 1, focus on mindset and why you want to go vegan. He talks about the diseases and conditions that come from consuming animal products and how Black Americans are disproportionately affected by these illnesses.

He also lists some well-known vegan athletes. If you haven’t already, you’ve got to see his feature documentary, They’re Trying to Kill Us. Here’s the trailer:

John also talks about:

  • the effects of hog lagoons on surrounding communities (who are typically people of colour—The Smell of Money tackles this)
  • animal sentience (pigs can “play video games with joysticks”!)
  • common objections to going vegan
  • why controlling food is power (whole foods vs. soul food, and how Black & Indigenous people were controlled throughout history through food)
  • environmental racism
  • insurance companies that invest in fast food

It’s a lot of heavy shit; that’s why it’s great John has a sense of humour through it all.


Part II: The first 30 days of going vegan

John talks about basic tools you should have in your kitchen, and a lot of basic information on nutrition most of us didn’t grow up with. For example, fruits and vegetables won’t spike your blood sugar (despite my nurse friends telling me I should eat fruit in moderation).

He covers all the elements of the plant food world you might not be familiar with: fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, and alternative proteins.


Part III: A nutrition masterclass

As John outlines his 3-month Building Block Plan (and beyond), he covers our need for carbs (which we need for muscle—not protein!), fibre, protein and healthy fats. He also talks about the dangers of sugar.

His building block plan has varying levels of carbs, protein, and fat depending on where you’re at in the plant-based journey. For the health & fitness nerds, he also goes into calculating your resting metabolic rate (RMP), daily calorie burn, and fuel level.

He talks about vitamins and supplements you may need, and intermittent fasting.


Part IV: Recipes

The book ends off with recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts, and sauces. I found a lot of the recipes had more ingredients than I’d like so I wouldn’t recommend them to a cooking newbie, but you could simplify the dishes by using a store-bought sauce vs. making your own from scratch, as an example (bearing in mind store-bought might be less healthy for you).

I took the recipes for Loaded Potato Casserole, Gingered Black Lentil Soup, and Summer Berry Pie.


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