Book Review: 72 Reasons to Be Vegan

by Natalie Bencivenga


August 3, 2021

Eat more plants. This is my mantra whenever people ask me about becoming vegan. I tell them it isn’t so important to be one hundred percent vegan, but aim instead for being “veganish” as I like to call it. And if you are thinking about trying it for yourself but need a little nudge, there is no better time to read 72 Reasons to Be Vegan,” by Gene Stone and Kathy Freston. 

What I loved about this book was its accessibility to the topic. As someone who has been plant-based for more than a decade, I often hear from people that they possibly couldn’t “go vegan.” They couldn’t give up cheese. They couldn’t stop eating steak. They want to be healthier, they want to be kinder to the planet and to animals — but they feel overwhelmed. As you know, feeling overwhelmed can lead to feeling paralyzed. Because we can’t do it all, we are afraid to do something. So we don’t do anything. But I’m here to share with you that small steps in the right direction can help immensely when it comes to our health and the health of the world around us. 

The authors share their personal journeys to kick things off, setting the tone that they are just like us. They love burgers. Who doesn’t love ice cream or grilled cheese? You can grow up on meat and dairy and still find your way to eating more plants. I promise it can be done. You just might need a little motivation. And that’s where this book comes in.

Pick it up and read it from the beginning or open to a random page and you will learn 72 different reasons to try plant-based foods. For instance, did you know that one pound of meat takes about 1,800 gallons of water to produce? Or that cows create complex social orders, understand cause-and-effect and maintain friendships for life? How about that plant based foods contain zero cholesterol and are rich in soluble fiber which lowers cholesterol? Did you know that you can have a better sex life when you eat more plants? Now I have your attention! 

Whatever your reason for going plant-based — or veganish — this book will give you that inspiration needed to try.

I always tell people that you don’t have to do this all at once. Slowly sub things out. Start with milk. Try different plant-based milks, especially for cooking or making sauces. You can even make your own milks using nuts or sunflower seeds. Sub out regular butter for plant-based butters. Miyokos and Earth Balance are favorites of mine. Have fun with vegan junk food. Try the ice creams, try the cookies, try making fruit cobblers. See an impossible or beyond meat burger on a menu? Give it a whirl. 

Then, once you get comfortable with the idea of plant-based foods, start playing around with some simple recipes. The Pittsburgh Earth Day website is a great place to start — or check out our Pinterest for some inspiration! The goal is to take what you already like and just veganize it, as I like to say!



Want macaroni salad? Easy to sub out mayo for vegan mayo from the store or make your own out of silken tofu. Craving tacos? Try subbing meat for black beans or mushrooms with your favorite taco seasonings. Love pancakes? Instead of eggs, use a banana! Once you realize that you don’t have to sacrifice the things you love, but can in fact add in new, colorful, nutritious and yummy foods into your diet, you won’t feel deprived. 

And as #72 on the list reads: Life is an ongoing adventure. You don’t have to be perfect. This is a lifestyle not a diet. If you find yourself eating plants even 80% of the time, think of the world of good you are doing for yourself, Mother Nature, and all of the beautiful creatures that inhabit her.


Natalie Bencivenga is a regular columnist with The Green Voice Weekly Newsletter and hosts Pittsburgh Earth Day's VEGED; Earth Inspired Eats