Monday, December 26, 2005

Charlotte Observer column

Posted on Sun, Dec. 25, 2005


They believe in virtues of vegetables

What does the clucking of 100,000 chickens sound like?

Sally Kneidel can tell us.

In the summer of 2004, she and her daughter, Sara Kate Kneidel, set out to write a book about vegetarian recipes and nutrition. Sally, who lives in Charlotte, has a doctorate in biology from UNC Chapel Hill. Sara Kate, 22, was a student at Guilford College.

Both vegetarians, they wanted to share recipes and facts -- but they also wanted to compile in one volume "all the possible reasons for choosing a vegetarian diet."

So they started visiting farms and asking questions.

They toured a hog mega-farm where Sally says sows were pinned in tiny stalls, a chicken farm with birds packed tight and an egg factory with more than a million hens.

Their discoveries are part of a new book, "Veggie Revolution: Smart Choices for a Healthy Body and a Healthy Planet" (Fulcrum, $16.95).

The `real culprits'

Their book discusses pollution, global warming, land use and hunger.It describes factory farms and details the benefits of raising livestock in pastures.

Sally calls it "a thorough piece of local muckraking on the subject of factory farming and the American diet."

"We were told by many people when we started the book that we would never get into any factory farms," she told me. "Yet we did get into four, and were even allowed to take pictures. We balanced this with visits and interviews at four small, humane and environmentally responsible farms in the area. The farm visits changed my life, to put it bluntly."

At first, Sally said, they thought farmers were responsible for what was happening on factory farms.

But then they came to believe that factory farmers "are just pawns in a system they did little to create. The real culprits are the corporations whose ads tell us we need animal products at every meal."

The last part of the book talks about staying healthy without meat, negotiating a vegetarian diet with your family and learning to cook vegetarian.

Eating less meat

Sally told me she hopes the book outlines how our food choices affect larger issues.

As long as customers buy cheap food that's produced on factory farms, she says, someone will continue to sell it to them.

And she hopes it helps readers decide to eat less meat -- or give it up entirely. "Every individual meal matters," she says.

Sara Kate agrees. "Each time you choose vegetarian, organic or local food, you are taking a stand for change."

The Kneidels will be at several area book signings in December and January, including one at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Joseph-Beth Booksellers, 4345 Barclay Downs Drive.

For information, go to



Jeri Krentz: (704) 358-5234;


Eric said...

Great publicity for the site and the book, you two!

Peach said...

The quote "show me what you eat and i'll show you who you are" is so true. Well done for sites like this that attempt to increase knowledge and understanding.