“No! Man eat meat! Man need protein!” grunt the critics, beating their chests and tearing chunks out of giant drumsticks.
But the near-constant vitriol only seems to stoke the plant-based fire, so much so that 2019 has been hailed as the year of the vegan by The Economist and Forbes.
The numbers speak for themselves. Over a quarter of Americans between 25 and 34 say they’re vegan or vegetarian, an increase of 600% in just six years, and the retail market for plant-based foods is estimated to be worth a staggering $4.5 billion.
While these statistics have their place, it’s the first-hand stories about the transformative power of the plant that make the most compelling case for veganism. Patients defying doctors and reversing chronic diseases; athletes at the top of their game and the podium; men and women losing weight and getting a new lease of life after years of hopeless fad diets.
Phuket expat Rebecca Frith has compiled more than 85 of these empowering stories in her self-published book Legends of Change: The unstoppable rise of veganism, launching this month. The book hears from a host of inspiring vegan and plant-based women from around the world, from doctors to Olympians, nutritionists to weightlifters, mothers to activists – all of them female as a reflection and celebration of the movement at large which is spearheaded by women.
Rebecca herself transitioned to a plant-based lifestyle in 2015. After losing her aunt – to whom Legends of Change is lovingly dedicated – to cancer, she vowed not to suffer the same fate and began to heavily research the effects of meat and dairy on the body.
“A turning point for me was [the documentary] What the Health. I felt like I’d been lied to all of my life that we need meat, that we need milk,” explains Rebecca over a soy cappuccino. “Going plant-based was an overnight decision.”
Four years on, Rebecca feels at the peak of her fitness, health and happiness. Sitting opposite her, it must be said that her energy and blemish-free complexion do not reflect that of a mother-of-two with an overflowing inbox and a book launch imminent…
A criticism often levied against members of the vegan and plant-based community is a propensity for being forceful or pushy. Not Rebecca. She remains modest, burying her own story deep in the book and even omitting her name from the cover of the initial drafts. Her quiet dedication in compiling Legends of Change over the past two years was borne from a genuine desire to spread positive change, to lift up the women at the forefront of the vegan and plant-based movement, as opposed to her own personal bid for the limelight.
“I wanted the book to be something people could gift to others as encouragement or for those difficult conversations. Your non-vegan friends, your sister, your grandma, your colleague, your mum or even the men in your life,” explains Rebecca. “When people connect to a story, it’s so much more powerful.”
Legends of Change is comprised of candid Q&As and closes with a selection of recipes and an index of resources. The short interview format has seen huge success in works such as Timothy Ferriss’ Tribe of Mentors and Jack Canfield’s Chicken Soup for the Soul and makes for accessible yet impactful reading.
At 429 pages, covering life-changing health, weight loss, activism, experts, athletes, mothers and influencers, the book feels almost bulletproof. Rebecca has cast the net wide to ensure there’s a story to get even the most hardened carnivores thinking and questioning.
The book also breaks away from the shock tactics that vegan activists have drawn criticism for. There are no unpleasant surprises here. No graphic descriptions of abattoirs. No guilt-inducing horror stories. Just uplifting and powerful accounts centred on what there is to be gained from adopting a vegan or plant-based lifestyle, not what is being left behind.
Notable names – such as activist and businesswoman Heather Mills, PETA co-founder Ingrid Newkirk and record-breaking marathon runner Fiona Oakes, to name only a few – give credence and weight to the work of this first-time author, too. Heather is even flying in from the UK to speak at the Legends of Change launch here in Phuket on November 22.
“In the early stages, there were weeks when I was only getting one or two stories, and then nothing for weeks after sending hundreds of emails, so getting someone like Heather on board was a huge breakthrough,” explains Rebecca.
“But I’m grateful to all of the women in the book. Their online audience combined is about seven million which is key in getting our message out there.”
From Phuket to the world, Legends of Change is going global. Let’s hope that caves are WiFi enabled and the Neanderthals are on Instagram these days.
Legends of Change is available on www.bookdepository.com (with free international delivery) and www.barnesandnoble.com. The launch will take place on November 22 from 4-7pm at Thanyapura Health & Sports Resort. Tickets must be purchased beforehand through the Facebook event page here.