The Vegan Girl's Guide to Life: Cruelty-Free Crafts, Recipes, Beauty Secrets and More

The Vegan Girl's Guide to Life: Cruelty-Free Crafts, Recipes, Beauty Secrets and More

by Melisser Elliott


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Vegan women everywhere are banding together in their efforts to be healthy, cruelty free, and environmentally responsible. This is their handbook. Melisser (known to most as “The Urban Housewife”) presents the basics of veganism for the newbies, lots of DIY craft projects, cruelty-free beauty tips, travel advice, recipes, and more.

This book is not just for vegan girls—it’s also for anyone who’s interested in a cruelty-free lifestyle. Discover the best beauty products, fun vacation spots, plus an assortment of recipes including Jackfruit “Carnitas” Tacos, Twice Baked Chipotle Sweet Potatoes, Curried Red Lentil Veggie Burgers, Chipotle Hominy Stew, and Double Chocolate Cookies. Learn how to make recycled cake stands, find a cross-stitch pattern by Stitch’d Ink, and find out about natural beauty and cleaning products. Reading like a Who’s Who of vegan women, contributions of recipes and craft projects will be provided by some of the most respected vegan chefs and bloggers in the world (Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Hannah Kaminsky, Celine Steen, Julie Hasson, Kittee Berns, Kelly Peloza, and more).

Full of photos and quirky illustrations, this is useful information with a punk rock attitude.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781616080921
Publisher: Skyhorse
Publication date: 11/11/2010
Edition description: Original
Pages: 224
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Melisser Elliott is the founder of Sugar Beat Sweets and the author of the blog The Urban Housewife. She has won awards from VegNews magazine; has been featured by BUST, the Washington Post, Craft, Make, Cupcakes Take the Cake, All Things Cupcake, SuperVegan, Crazy Sexy Life, and Vegan Nutritionista; and has appeared on Everyday Dish TV. She lives in San Francisco, California.

Read an Excerpt



In the simplest terms, vegans refrain from the use of all animal products, in diet and lifestyle. This means vegans do not consume meat, dairy, eggs, honey, and their by-products; and vegans do not wear leather, wool, silk, down, or any other animal material that is not suitable for consumption or use by vegans. While this may seem like a lot to avoid, it's far less than what vegans can consume. A plentiful variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds is all on the menu, with an abundance of familiar foods from all over the world falling into these categories. There is also a plethora of materials you can wear, products you can use, and things you can do as a vegan, all of which we'll explore in this book.

There are some people who choose to follow a vegan diet but do not refrain from using other animal products, which involve atrocities committed against animals, such as the harvesting of skins for clothing, or the entrapment of animals for human entertainment at zoos and circuses. Being vegan is so much more than what you can or can't eat; it is an ethical stance against the mistreatment of all animals. More than just a diet, it is truly a lifestyle.


Vegan Society cofounder Donald Watson coined the term vegan in 1944, by combining the first three and last two letters of vegetarian to form "vegan," which he saw as "the beginning and end of vegetarian." Three months after coining the term, he explained in The Vegan Society newsletter that the word should be pronounced, "veegan, not veejan."

Although veganism was given a name in 1944, this was hardly the first time people chose to eschew animal products. Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras mentioned vegetarianism around 500 BCE, and promoted kinship to animals, saying: "As long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other." Many religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, and Christianity, have a history of followers who abstain from animal products for spiritual reasons. Jainism in particular has advocated for living beings, promoting nonviolence toward all, including animals and insects. Jains take a vow of Ahimsa, meaning to do no harm. Their idea of not harming living creatures certainly includes dietary choices, but Jains will also go to extreme measures to ensure that they are not inadvertently killing living beings. This includes guaranteeing that insects are not killed in the building of a structure or the development of a power source.

Vegetarianism became more popular in the mid-nineteenth century, and vegan societies started popping up in America. An early U.S. vegetarian nondairy cookbook, Vegetarian Cookery by Dr. Pietro Rotondi, was published in 1942, and the first vegan cookbook, The Gar Shu Vegetarian Cookbook, was published in 1957. Health and wellness was the focus of a vegetarian diet in the 1970s, with health-food stores touted as being "crunchy-granola" popping up all over, accompanied by cookbooks courtesy of the Moosewood Collective.

In 1975 Peter Singer's Animal Liberation was published in the United States. Considered by many to be a game-changer, this book makes a clear case for the abolishment of modern animal agricultural practices. In the 1980s and 1990s, the animal rights movement gained attention as more pro-animal organizations were formed. Protests and marches increased in popularity, and events like Fur-Free Friday were created.

Today, veganism continues to increase in popularity with help from the Internet, activist efforts, the media, and the expansion of organic and eco-friendly markets. New products are being created that cater to vegans, and labels are being added to merchandise to denote what is suitable for cruelty-free lifestyles. It's a great time to go vegan! It's easier than ever, and with the state of the world, the health of humans, and animal agriculture in dire straits, veganism is more important than ever. So, what can I say? Go vegan and nobody gets hurt!


Location: Hamburg, Germany

Blog: Vegan in the City (

Reason You Went Vegan: I was vegetarian for several years because I didn't want animals to die for my food. One day I finally realized how stupid it was to quit meat but not eggs, dairy, leather, etc. I started researching animal products and simply found that none of them are produced without harming an animal.

Favorite Dish to Cook: I like simple food, such as spaghetti bolognese or chili con (soy) carne. I enjoy cooking these meals for meat-eaters and not telling them they're vegan. They never notice — that is, until I do my famous "I fooled you" dance.

Funniest Vegan Moment: One day I was so happily surprised that an IKEA in Berlin had cow-free hot dogs that I opted for two of them. Shortly before biting into one, I got confused by the smell. It turned out I was so blinded by the term "cow-free" that I'd actually ordered chicken hot dogs. I gave them to a couple standing behind me and toddled off.


Most people would say they love animals, but the reality is, if you're using animals for food, clothing, or entertainment, you're only considering the lives of certain animals, typically those of cats and dogs. The United States alone slaughters over ten billion land animals for food every year, and as more people are exposed to the truths of modern animal agriculture practices, they are shocked by the cruelty shown toward innocent creatures. The first step in stopping these atrocities is to vote with your fork and refrain from participating in cruelty.

The way our society treats animals is disgusting and offensive. Here are some facts about animal cruelty from While they may be hard to read, it's crucial that you arm yourself with the reality of animal exploitation so that you can better inform others:

• Animals on factory farms are confined in horrendous conditions. By the thousands, chicken, cows, pigs, and turkeys are stuck in gestation crates, cages, and windowless sheds, never to see the outside world or feel the sun on their backs.

• Ninety-five percent of the animals killed every year are chickens. Hens used for eggs are held in battery cages, with five to eight birds crammed into cages that are just 14 square inches. Due to stress-related aggression, chicks are de-beaked with a burning hot blade, and no painkillers. To keep production levels up, hens live in constant light. Male chicks are worthless to the egg industry, and millions of them are killed every year by being tossed into trash bags to suffocate, or they're thrown into high-speed grinders while they are still alive.

• "Broiler chickens" — the ones raised for their flesh — are drugged and bred to grow large so quickly that their legs and organs can't keep up, making heart attacks, organ failure, and crippling leg deformities common. When they are only six or seven weeks old, they are crammed into cages and trucked to slaughter. At the slaughterhouse, their legs are snapped into shackles, their throats are cut, and they are immersed in scalding hot water to remove their feathers. Because they have no federal legal protection (birds are exempt from the Humane Methods of Slaughter Act), most are still conscious when their throats are cut open, and many are literally scalded to death in the feather-removal tanks after missing the throat cutter.

• In the United States, more than 41 million cows suffer and die for the meat and dairy industries every year. Cattle raised for beef are usually born in one state, fattened in another, and slaughtered in yet another. Many cows die on the way to slaughter, and those who survive are shot in the head with a bolt gun, hung up by their legs, and taken onto the killing floor, where their throats are cut and they are skinned. Some cows remain fully conscious throughout the entire process; according to one slaughterhouse worker, in an interview with The Washington Post, "they die piece by piece."

• Cows raised for their milk are repeatedly impregnated using artificial insemination. Calves are generally taken from their mothers within a day of being born. The males are destined for veal crates, and the females are sentenced to the same fate as their mothers. Mother cows on dairy farms can often be seen searching and calling for their calves long after they have been separated. After their calves are taken from them, mother cows are hooked up, several times a day, to machines that take the milk intended for their babies. Using genetic manipulation, powerful hormones, and intensive milking, cows are forced to produce about ten times as much milk as they naturally would. They are pumped full of bovine growth hormone, which contributes to a painful inflammation of the udder known as mastitis. A cow's natural life span is twenty-five years, although cows used by the dairy industry are killed after only four or five years. Dairy cows are turned into soup, companion animal food, or low-grade hamburger meat because their bodies are too "spent" to be used for anything else.

• Male calves are considered a by-product of the dairy industry and are generally taken from their mothers when they are less than one day old. The calves are then put into dark, tiny crates where they are kept almost completely immobilized so that their flesh stays tender. The calves are fed a liquid diet that is low in iron and has little nutritive value in order to make their flesh white. This makes the calves ill, and they frequently suffer from anemia, diarrhea, and pneumonia. Frightened, sick, and alone, these calves are killed after only a few months of life to make veal.

• Pigs are considered smarter than a three-year-old child, and yet, as piglets, they are taken away from their mothers when they are less than one month old. Their tails are removed, some of their teeth are cut off, and they are castrated without any pain relief. They spend their entire lives in overcrowded pens on a tiny slab of filthy concrete. Breeding sows spend their entire lives in gestation crates where they can't even turn around. The pigs give birth and then are forcibly impregnated in a cycle that continues for years until their bodies can no longer produce and they are killed. When sent to slaughter, pigs are forced onto transport trucks that travel for many miles through all weather extremes; many die of heat exhaustion in the summer, or arrive frozen to the inside of the truck in the winter. Additionally, many are still fully conscious when they are immersed in scalding water for hair removal.

• Fish farming has become a billion-dollar industry, and more than 30 percent of all the sea animals consumed each year are now raised on these "farms." Aqua farms can be based on land or in the ocean. Land-based farms raise thousands of fish in ponds, pools, or concrete tanks. Ocean-based aqua farms are situated close to shorelines, and fish in these farms are packed into net or mesh cages. All fish farms are rife with pollution, disease, and suffering, regardless of their location. These farmed fish will spend their entire lives crammed together, constantly bumping against each other and the sides of their grossly overcrowded cage. Conditions on some farms are so horrendous that 40 percent of the fish may die before farmers can kill and package them for food.

• Turkeys make up 4 percent of the birds killed each year. They are killed when they are only five or six months old, and the 300 million turkeys raised and killed for their flesh every year in the United States have no federal legal protection. Thousands of turkeys are crammed into filthy sheds after their beaks and toes are burned off with a hot blade, and no painkillers. Many suffer heart failure or debilitating leg pain, often becoming crippled under the weight of their genetically manipulated and drugged bodies. When the time comes for slaughter, they are thrown into transport trucks, and when they arrive at the slaughterhouse, their throats are cut and their feathers burned off — often while they are still fully conscious.

• Ducks and geese raised for their flesh spend their entire lives crammed in dirty, dark sheds where they suffer from injury and disease and are deprived of everything that is natural to them. Ducks and geese raised for foie gras endure the pain of having a pipe shoved down their throats three times daily so that two pounds of grain can be pumped into their stomachs to produce the diseased "fatty liver" that some diners consider a delicacy.

• Shortly after birth, lambs are subjected to two painful mutilations: castration and tail docking. About four million newborn lambs, roughly one in five, die every year within a few days of birth, mostly from disease, exposure, or malnutrition. Current European Union rules allow sheep to travel for fourteen hours without water or a rest stop. They must have a rest period of one hour after a fourteen-hour journey, after which they may be transported for a further fourteen hours.

• Rabbits aren't as common at the factory farm, but there have been experiments in battery systems similar to those of hens. Young rabbits have a high death rate. Female rabbits (called "does") are considered disposable. When a doe can't have seven litters a year anymore, she is slaughtered.

• Zoo animals are kept in enclosures that don't allow them to live their lives in a natural way. No matter how nice zoos try to make the enclosures, they don't compare with the ideal natural habitat. Zoo animals have to spend day after day in the exact same enclosure, making their lives very monotonous. Additionally, certain kinds of animals in zoos or circuses develop behavioral disorders and stereotypical behavior, such as chimps tearing out their own fur as well as that of their young; parrots and swans that are more interested in their keepers than in their own kind; giraffes and camels licking a particular spot of the fence; emus and ostriches pacing along the edge of their enclosure; predators circling their cages; and, finally, elephants rhythmically moving their heads from side to side.

• Circus animals are often trained using physical tactics and intimidation. Activists have obtained footage of animals being beaten with hooks, whips, and chains, being poked and prodded and even burned to force them into submission. Elephants are often kept in chains for as long as twenty-three hours a day, from the time they are babies.

• It takes eighteen red foxes to make one fox-fur coat, and fifty-five minks to make one mink coat. So as not to damage their fur, foxes, raccoons, minks, coyotes, bobcats, lynxes, opossums, beavers, muskrats, otters, and many other fur-bearing animals are killed daily on fur farms by anal and vaginal electrocution, and in the wild by drowning, trapping, or beating.

• As many as 115 million animals are experimented on and killed in laboratories in the United States every year. Most of the experimentation — including pumping chemicals into rats' stomachs, hacking muscle tissue from dogs' thighs, and putting baby monkeys in isolation chambers far from their mothers — is paid for by American taxpayers and consumers. Rodents are not protected under the Animal Welfare Act, which means that the law does not require any accounting for the large numbers of rats used. As a result, there is no way to know conclusively just how many millions suffer and die each year in publicly and privately funded research. Animal experimentation is a multibillion-dollar industry fueled by massive public funding and involving a complex web of corporate, government, and university laboratories, cage and food manufacturers, and animal breeders, dealers, and transporters.


When I went vegan, I wasn't aware that there were different approaches to veganism. I thought we all just wanted to stop animal cruelty, and that was it. As I spent time reading about veganism, I saw the terms abolitionist and welfarist being thrown around quite a bit, so I decided to do more research. I discovered that it's a hotbed of controversy for some vegans, while others are unaware of the debate and just do their best to live their ethics.

According to Gary L. Francione, American legal scholar and Distinguished Professor of Law, "The abolitionist approach maintains that ethical veganism is a moral baseline; it represents the recognition of the moral personhood of animals and the rejection of the notion that animals are commodities for human use. Ethical veganism is an essential component of a commitment to non-violence."


Excerpted from "The Vegan Girl's Guide to Life"
by .
Copyright © 2010 Melisser Elliott.
Excerpted by permission of Skyhorse Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Vegan Girl's Guide to Life 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wish this book was around when I first became a vegan! It would have saved me so much time and money. It has fabulous advice and tons of vegan product recommendations. I also really like the little bios on vegan business owners.
JaneLane More than 1 year ago
I was so excited for this book and I never order new (thrifty books just make sense) but the quality of it is really sad - I suppose that is Barnes and Noble, and I'm really disappointed. I guess I will go back to second hand books, if this is what new looks like. The writer however is smart and it's a great resource for vegans and non-vegans alike.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sorry,........I LOVE MEAT!!!!!!!!!