Book Review: Becoming Vegan.

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Book review courtesy of Melinda Wieck at EcoBrain.com, who makes it possible for publishers to get the green word out in a cost effective and environmentally friendly manner.

BECOMING VEGAN is an remarkable dietary reference book written in a very readable style by two dietitians, Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina. Both of these women have a long list of credentials plus much experience that they bring to their book. This well thought-out, scientifically based book should answer most questions about the vegan lifestyle. I was particularly impressed by the nutritional knowledge presented. This information is given added support from the many charts and tables used throughout the book. These are all drawn from controlled studies outlining the needs and the effects of various dietary approaches, giving the reader the chance to look at the data first hand and draw his own conclusions.

The book begins with an interesting history of the vegetarian diet and vegan lifestyle. The roots are traced from 1840’s England through the Seventh Day Adventists contributions in the USA. I like this sort of thing, but if you don’t, it’s all done in the first chapter and not compulsory reading. The next issues addressed are more important to everyone since they deal with the safety and health implications of becoming vegan. Something everyone interested in trying the lifestyle needs to read. The authors did a great job of presenting an overview of the strengths and pitfalls of eating vegan, concluding that weaknesses in the diet can be easily accommodated. With this in mind the diet has many proven benefits for all of earth, not just the eater. This chapter closes with information on the effect of eating vegan on many common diseases that are believed to be diet related. I found this particularly relevant since there is a lot of diabetes in my family.

The early chapters go on to discuss the basic components of any diet: proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. Again this is good, concise information for anyone interested in promoting healthy eating. The importance of each is defined as well as easily obtainable sources of the components are cited. I found the explanation of the Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats clear and easy to understand. Now I know the importance and sources of each. The wonderful thing about this chapter is that it gives actual, useable daily menus in various calorie requirements. It gives the novice an idea of what a typical day of eating vegan would entail.

The closing chapters take the reader through the various stages of life from in the womb to elderly along with the changes in dietary needs associated with each age. The authors carefully outline suggested menu changes to incorporate these changes into daily eating. There are also chapters on special eating needs: overweight, underweight, athletes, and those with eating disorders. Again the authors carefully outline suggested menu changes to accommodate these special cases. I found the close of the book helpful as it discusses the “diplomacy” of being vegan. I have found myself in uncomfortable situations due to this preferred eating style. The book gives some good suggestions for dealing with these circumstances.

All together this is a valuable book especially for those wishing to know a bit more about the science of nutrition. It does a great job of explaining nutrition in relatively simple terms. It does this without becoming preachy while still offering good, practical advise. A great book for anyone interested in understanding and improving their diet and at the same time making their eating easier on Mother Earth.

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