Review by Ruth Heidrich PhD
One of the best gifts to give yourself or anyone else is education!
After all, most of the mistakes we all make are committed, not purposefully, but out of ignorance. This is especially scary when you consider all the misinformation out there in the field of nutrition. Arguably, ignorance is the number one cause of death when you consider all the heart disease, cancer, strokes, medical mistakes, etc. that could be prevented if people were educated about how eating animal food causes all these and a lot more. Strong statements, to be sure, but the scientific evidence is in.
One of the latest and best compilations of the evidence is in Kathy Freston’s latest book, Veganist, her attempt to remedy that situation. If you’re curious about the word “veganist,” she defines it as someone who looks closely at all of the implications of their food choices and choose to lean into a plant-based diet.
Just scanning the Table of Contents, you’ll see ten promises, each of which offers something that most, if not all, of us would grab in a heartbeat if it were that easy. Well, maybe it is! How about effortless weight loss; lowered risk of cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; living longer and fitter; dodging superbugs and pandemics; saving lots of money; helping the environment; decreasing global starvation; reducing animal suffering; getting spiritually enlightened; and even evolving personal growth! With promises like these, what more could one ask for!
Most of these chapters follow a logical format: first, “Straight from The Source”: where she interviews experts in their fields, notables such as Dean Ornish, MD; T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D.; Neal Barnard, MD; Caldwell Esselstyne, MD; and Michael Greger, MD. She then follows up with proof from the lives of real people, examples of the theory put into practice, and I know they are real-life because I am one of them!
If I could find any one fault with her approach, it would be that she is much too nice. She wants people to change at their own pace, such as, for example, first giving up just one animal. Then when you’re ready, give up another one, etc. I’d so much rather push the “urgency” factor, telling people tomorrow may be too late, and that without immediate action, with each hour that passes, more heart attacks will occur, many more animals will be tortured and killed, and our carbon footprint gets even larger. Patience, however, has never been one of my virtues and if, as the saying goes, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, then this book is for you!
She does offer one strategy that most people find very effective when making the change to a healthier diet, and that is what she calls “crowding out” where you literally “crowd out” the unhealthy food by first filling up with the healthy food. This way you’re always satisfied and can more easily withstand temptation.
She ends the book with a three-week menu plan for those who would say, “What’s left to eat if you take away the meat?” And for those who’d like even more hand-holding, she’s even got a shopping list. I suspect there’s a vegan version for every conceivable animal-based food, and you could spend hours going through the tremendous variety of packaged vegan foods that are now readily available. There could be no excuses left for having to give up anything that anyone was addicted to. I would like to have seen a greater emphasis on just plain old whole foods from the Produce Department – no packaging, no labels to have to interpret, and save even more money to boot. But then there’s that “honey” factor because who couldn’t turn down such non-dairy ice cream temptations as Tofutti Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream sandwiches, Purely Decadent, Bliss, and Tempt!
This book may be the answer to the curious, the cautious, or even the skeptic, so read this book yourself and then get as many others to read it as you possibly can. It’ll do the world good!
Ruth Heidrich is an Ironman Triathlete and author of A Race For Life, CHEF, and Senior Fitness. She is a former president of the Vegetarian Society of Hawaii and the Mid-Pacific Road Runners Club.
For more information from Amazon.com or to purchase a copy of VEGANIST, click here.