That's pretty much exactly how she feels about eating meat.
The mostly female crowd listened to Freedman and nutrition researcher Dr. Neal Barnard,president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine,discussed the benefits of the vegan diet advocated in Freedman's book. The audience of about 100 also sampled vegan recipes from Freedman's second book,”Skinny Bitch in the Kitch,” including pasta salad and “Bitchtastic Brownies.”
Ever since superstar Victoria Beckham was photographed with a copy of the book in Los Angeles,its popularity has been growing,reaching the rank of New York Times bestseller and spinning off several similar books due this fall and winter,including “Skinny Bastard” and “Skinny Bitch: Bun in the Oven.”
The book's title sums up its tone: bitchy. Freedman,backed by facts from co-author Kim Barnouin,who holds a master's degree in holistic nutrition,chews out readers with a sarcastic,witty voice full of swearing and tough common sense.
“Soda is liquid Satan,” she writes,and “beer is for frat boys,not skinny bitches.”
As for food,”Candy bars,potato chips and ice cream taste like heaven,of course. But they will pitch a tent on your hips and camp out all year.”
Freedman said the book's provocative title would offend and outrage the feminist in her if she saw it in a store and didn't read it,but that it was merely an “irreverent,cheap ploy to get people to read the book.” Freedman's real concern,she revealed Tuesday,is not weight loss but animal cruelty.
Freedman,who grew up on a “meat and potatoes,” bacon-double-cheeseburger diet,first gave up meat in college after seeing pictures of suffering,dying cattle in a magazine.
Eventually,she decided to give up all animal products and adopt a vegan diet. Giving up milk products,she said,made common sense to her.
“We're the only species on the planet that drinks the milk of another species,” Freedman said. “We're also the only species that drinks milk as adults.”
Freedman said supporting the dairy industry also supports the veal industry,because veal often comes from the male calves of dairy cows.
Her book's weight-loss angle,then,was a “deliberate decision” to get people to pick up the book and read it. No one wants to read a book about animal cruelty,she said,but people are interested in losing weight and healthy eating.
Rosa Mo,a registered dietician and chair of the Division of Health Professions at University of New Haven,said a vegan diet is a healthy option,as long as the vegan knows how to combine foods to gain the right balance of amino acids.
“It's heart-healthy,” Mo said in an interview. “It is really absent in saturated fats.”
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine recommends a low-fat vegan diet centered on the “new four food groups”: grains,legumes,vegetables and fruit. According to the committee,such a diet can improve weight,cholesterol,blood pressure and blood sugar.
Not all diet experts agree.
Kaayla Daniel,who has a doctorate in nutrition and is the author of “The Whole Soy Story: The Dark Side of America's Favorite Health Food,” said women on Freedman's diet can become irritable,anxious,fatigued and malnourished.
“As a clinical nutritionist,I have found that lab tests on vegan women reveal serious vitamin,mineral,amino acid and fatty acid deficiencies,” Daniel said in an interview.
Whatever the health benefits or risks,vegan diets may be growing more popular because of publicity from people like Freedman.
At her talk,she challenged audience members to show their commitment to a vegan diet by taking a 30-day “veg pledge.” Pinky fingers around the room were raised into the air to signify vegan promises.
And what should “veg-pledgers” do if they're dating a non-vegan who doesn't want to adopt the diet?
“Dump them,” Freedman said.