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Book Reviews

Paleo Vegan by Ellen Jaffe Jones

Book Review:
Paleo Vegan by Ellen Jaffe Jones
Paleo. You’d have to be living under a rock (or maybe without the internet, which is kind of the same thing) to have avoided this term for the past few years. Paleo refers to a diet that shuns processed foods and emphasizes animal-based protein in the form of copious amounts of meat. Enthusiasts assert that a paleo diet increases athletic performance, assists with weight loss, and is the way our cave-dwelling ancestors lived. (They also shun grains, legumes, and potatoes, saying they are more recent agricultural developments and difficult for some to digest.) Today, there are books, magazines, websites, comedians (I made that one up) (I think) and more dedicated to promoting the paleo diet, and it’s very hard to avoid hearing about it in fitness communities, especially popular among CrossFit devotees. As someone who stared in disbelief at the junky Atkins craze of the 1990s, it was distressing when paleo started its ascent, but I’ve since learned that the high-protein, low-carbohydrate diet as a curative is nothing new: they have been around since at least the early 19th century in different permutations, each heralded as the natural diet.

Cutting through all that baggage, though, comes an innovative new book that brings to the forefront the best of the paleo approach - and there is something positive there - leaves behind the animal products, and puts a vegan spin on it all. Paleo Vegan: Plant-Based Primal Recipes by athlete, journalist, author and all-around powerhouse Ellen Jaffe Jones and with recipes by Alan Roettinger posits that rather than being opposites on the dietary spectrum, vegans and paleos have a fruitful middle area where we have common ground. As paleos avoid processed foods, and health-minded vegans do as well, the crossover foods include nuts and seeds, fruits, colorful plants (as opposed to white potatoes) and healthy fats. As anyone who has been vegan for a while knows, there are plenty of whole food, animal-free sources of protein are readily available in everything from lentils to kale. For those who still want their occasional grains and legumes, Jaffe’s relaxed approach allows for “cheating,” a common practice among paleos, of 15 - 20 percent of plant foods on the forbidden list. As Jones outlines it, her paleo-vegan diet is not dogmatic: it is a way to feeling our best, eating whole, unprocessed, fresh foods, and with the recipes provided by Roettinger, it all manages to be wholesome, colorful, and delicious. This is not about sacrifice or restriction.

A well-organized book with great art direction, succinct information (including lots of helpful charts) written with Jones’ breezy, confident tone and lots of flavor-focused recipes,  Paleo-Vegan covers everything from breakfast (like Chia Cereal) through dessert (like the Ginger-Chocolate Tart in a Raw Crust) and all points in between. Informative, with great rebuttals against the tired tropes that vegans cannot perform well as athletes and that we rely on too many “fake” foods, Jones and Roettinger have created a cookbook for anyone looking to eat more whole, unprocessed foods, whether the reader is vegan or not.

I highly recommend Paleo Vegan. Thank you to the Book Publishing Company for permission to reprint the following recipe.

Dandelion Salad with Beets

Dandelion greens are among the most healthful foods in existence. Like all bitter greens, they
act as a powerful blood purifier. When combined with beets as they are here, dandelion greens
also help detoxify the liver. In addition, this combo is easy on the palate because the greens’
bitter edge is tamed by the beets’ sweetness. Brazil nuts bring protein, selenium, and a satisfying crunch to the mix. Health and pleasure!

1 large bunch very fresh dandelion greens (about 6 cups cut leaves)
2 cups grated beets
cup grated carrot
cup thinly sliced red onion
cup thinly sliced celery heart, including leaves
1/3 cup freshly squeezed tangerine juice
2 tablespoons white balsamic or champagne vinegar
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
teaspoon sea salt
teaspoon freshly ground mixed peppercorns
(black, white, green, and pink) or black only
cup walnut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
cup Brazil nuts, cut into 4 pieces each

Keeping the dandelion greens in a bunch, hold them by the stems and rinse well under cold running water to remove any grit. Remove any decayed bits, then lay the bunch on a cutting board and cut the leaves and tender stems crosswise at 1-inch intervals. Put in a salad spinner and spin dry, or blot dry with a clean dish towel.

Put the greens in a large bowl and add the beets, carrot, onion,and celery. Toss until well combined.

Put the tangerine juice, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl and whisk until well combined. Add the oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly until emulsified. Pour over the salad and toss thoroughly.

Divide the salad among four plates. Top with the Brazil nuts and serve at once.

2013, 2014, Vegan Street

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