Category Archives: Book Excerpts & Recommendations

Main Street Vegan – a book review

It’s hard not to get excited about this book. It’s hard not to fall in love with it. Victoria Moran’s latest book, titled Main Street Vegan – Everything You Need to Know to Eat Healthfully and Live Compassionately in the Real World, is sure to be a winner.

We were excited by innovations such as the chapter on finding the method of switching over to a vegan diet that works best for you, rather than the usual one way fits all. “Vegan one day at a time”, “vegan one food at a time” and “vegan at home” are just a few of the strategies offered by the author for the reader to choose from. There’s even a “vegetarian for now” strategy for those just getting started on the veg journey who haven’t reached vegetarian yet.

Also exciting is the forthright way the author confronts the myths and misinformation that abounds about some foods, such as the false fears being spread by the soy bashers and the false promotion of unique health benefits of fish. She doesn’t shy away from such real world considerations such as fitting vegan food choices comfortably into your budget, and she is not afraid to make specific recommendations and evaluations about specific brands of foods and other products which are so helpful to those just starting out.

We loved the way Victoria wrote the book for real people and what it takes to switch over to the vegan way, in uniquely human terms. “To become a Main Street Vegan yourself”, says the author, “you’ll call on your courage, your flexibility, your sense of adventure, your willingness to learn, and your ability to rise to a challenge.” We loved the way she wrote in a personal style instead of “to whom it may concern,” the impersonal tone found in so many other books today. Victoria gets up close and personal, revealing her own switch over to vegan which did so much to help her in her own weight loss struggles. We also loved the recipes, arranged throughout the book, that use everyday ingredients but yield especially delicious dishes of every kind.

In short, this book is a treasure trove that will reward the reader with one gem after the other, and we recommend it wholeheartedly. Victoria Moran is an author, motivational speaker, corporate spokesperson, and certified holistic health counselor (HHC, AADA). Her latest project, Main Street Vegan is published by Tarcher/Penguin and has been endorsed by such luminaries as Russell Simmons, Moby, and authorities such as Neal Barnard MD, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. Among Victoria’s ten additional titles are the best-selling Creating a Charmed Life (in thirty languages), and the plant-based weight-loss classic, The Love-Powered Diet: Eating for Freedom, Health, & Joy. A vegan for twenty-eight years, Victoria wrote Compassion, the Ultimate Ethic, the first book on vegan philosophy ever published by a major publisher, as her college thesis in 1985.

Environmentalists in Deep Denial

ImageWith Earth Day just around the corner, we can’t help but lament the depth of denial most of the environmental community is in when it comes to the issue of animal agriculture and meat. There are some notable exceptions, such as the World Watch Institute who says, “The human appetite for animal flesh is a driving force behind virtually every major category of environmental damage now threatening the human future — deforestation, erosion, fresh water scarcity, air and water pollution, climate change, biodiversity loss, social injustice, the destabilization of communities, and the spread of disease.” But, on the whole the environmental community has chosen to remain comfortably unaware of the facts connecting our food choices with environmental sustainability, and several attempts by us to get the environmental movement engaged have resulted in a lackluster response. Read more

Winning the Battle of the Bulge

Besides saving money, winning the battle of the bulge is the other most popular New Year’s resolution. And, there’s little wonder why, with two thirds of all Americans now either overweight or obese.

There are three phases to weight loss: getting your diet started, working the diet to your goal and transitioning to everyday eating for long term results. Every endeavor starts with a single step, and since New Year’s Resolutions are all about beginnings, here’s our our top recommendation for getting started on your journey to victory in the battle of the bulge.

In 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart: Boost Metabolism, Lower Cholesterol, and Dramatically Improve Your Health, PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D., shows you how a vegetarian diet will help you drop pounds, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and improve blood sugar—in just three weeks. He also provides three weeks of recipes, nutrition information, and cooking tips, as well as inspiration from celebrities, including a foreword by Alicia Silverstone, tips from Biggest Loser’s Bob Harper, and advice from NBA champion John Salley.

This book is a powerful tool on its own, but what makes the Kickstart program even more advantageous is the online portion that goes with it. From webcasts and teleclasses to daily messages from famous doctors, and from social media such as Facebook to additional recipes and nutritional advice, this online program is truly special. You can check it out by visiting pcrm.org/kickstarthome/

What’s even more special is the way Dr. Barnard combines sound scientific principles of weight loss with a caring and compassionate attitude. In fact we’re so impressed with this doctor, we’ve invited him to be a speaker at this year’s Vegfest! We invite you to come down hear him speak and meet him in person. And best of all, he’ll answer all your questions.

Eat Vegan on $4 a day

Happy New Year one and all!  January is New Year’s resolution time, and since the economy continues to struggle along to recovery, many are resolving to redouble their efforts to save money. Vegetarians of Washington is here to help with a review of the latest tool in the battle of the budget:  Eat Vegan on $4 a Day by Ellen Jaffe Jones.

This book needed to be written. This is a book for our times. This book dispels a myth held by far too many that you can’t eat healthfully while still eating affordably, and it’s the most practical tool we’ve seen in a long time to help with eating on a budget.

In these difficult economic times, more and more people are looking to save money in their weekly food budget. Many people are also under the misimpression that it costs a lot of money to follow a healthy diet in general, and a vegan diet in particular.  This eminently practical book goes through the basics of thrifty shopping and follows up with daily and weekly menus for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks of delicious vegan meals along with recipes for each dish. I especially liked that each meal is completely priced out at average grocery store prices.

Practical to its core, the recipes mostly use commonly obtainable ingredients found in most ordinary supermarkets. However, if you have access to a natural food store so much the better! You’ll find valuable tips on how to save money on your long time favorite “health foods” and organics.

Going far beyond bulk bin basics, I can just see many retailers and manufacturers cringing as the author reveals any number of industry “secrets” so as to enable you to save even more money and find bargains in a wide variety of circumstances. I liked the fact that recipes were thrifty but fun. There’s no sense of sacrifice or austerity, so even the most well-heeled reader will find the recipes attractive.

This book accomplishes its goal so well that after reading it you’ll never think it’s too expensive or difficult to follow a veg-diet again.  We won’t hide our enthusiasm for this book! In fact we liked it so much, we’ve invited the author so much we invited her to our upcoming Vegfest. Check back for speaking and book signing times closer to the event.

Calling all Veg-Friendly Healthcare Providers

Here at Vegetarians of Washington, we are often asked for recommendations of vegetarian or veg-friendly healthcare providers.  If you are a healthcare provider of any kind, licensed in the state of Washington, and you are either vegetarian or vegan yourself, or you consider it to be a very healthy choice for your patients to make, we encourage you to contact us to let us know of your qualifications, your specialty, your practice location and contact information, and your experience with vegetarian and vegan diets.  We will compile this information into a helpful list which we can share as needed.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) publishes an excellent book – A Nutrition Guide for Clinicians, which is a comprehensive, portable medical reference manual.  It covers nearly 100 diseases and conditions, including risk factors, diagnoses, and typical treatments. Most importantly, it provides the latest evidence-based information on nutrition’s role in prevention and treatment, including an in-depth examination of general nutrition, macronutrients, micronutrients, and nutritional requirements for all stages of life.  In addition, it describes helpful ways to talk with patients about dietary changes.  If you’d like to have all the latest nutritional information at your fingertips, you may find this book very helpful.  It is written for clinicians, so it provides all the medical details you’ll need for almost every common situation.

The PCRM has also put together a website http://nutritioncme.org/ which offers free online Continuing Medical Education (CME) credits to healthcare providers who study the educational materials on their website.  It is well-designed with the latest nutrition information to help bring any healthcare provider up-to-date with the scientific evidence showing how our food can help heal many common diseases.

If you need a movie to recommend to patients who could benefit from a change in their diets, or a quick introduction yourself to some of the recent research which has uncovered the many health benefits of a vegetarian diet, the new movie Forks over Knives is now available for free instant download from Netflix, for downloadable rental ($3.99) or purchase ($9.99) or as a DVD ($14.99) from Amazon.com.  You can also recommend our books The Vegetarian Solution, by Stewart Rose, or Say No to Meat, by Amanda Strombom and Stewart Rose, as good sources of valuable information about the health and other benefits of changing your diet. For patients who are new to healthy food, our latest book In Pursuit of Great Food: A Plant-Based Shopping Guide, could be very helpful for them.

Comfortably Unaware – New book turns up the volume on the Veg-Environmental Message

Comfortably Unaware, by Richard Oppenlander, is destined to become a landmark book discussed for years to come. The message of this book is loud and clear: the production of meat and other animal products is wrecking the environment.  It’s time for environmentalists and the public at large to wake up, face the facts, come out of denial and do something about it. No more excuses can be accepted, as almost every excuse, technological dodge, or halfway measure (such as grass fed beef), is shown to be either impractical, useless or wholly inadequate.

The author begins making his case with a wealth of specific and well-referenced statistics, and then challenges us to draw the obvious conclusions, which he spells out in forthright fashion. The data reveals the massive detrimental impact that raising meat and harvesting fish has on the environment. From global warming, to the burning down of the rainforests, to air and water pollution, Oppenlander prosecutes the case against meat that exceeds even the “shadow of doubt” level of certainty required in most criminal cases. One would think, with all the evidence presented, that a conviction would be all but inevitable.

Yet the jury, made up of environmentalists and their leaders along with the general public, still won’t face the facts, with a few notable exceptions, and act upon them. Oppenlander is not letting anyone off the hook. From Al Gore to Michael Pollan, he takes them all to task by saying what needs to be said, and what so sorely needs to be done, to build a more sustainable society. So far, the majority of environmentalists haven’t been willing to face the evidence and explain the imperative of switching to a meat-based diet, and the reader may wonder whether they have chosen to be popular by down-playing the meat issue, rather than choosing to truly protect the environment. The same goes for university and hospital food service officials who make big statements about running green establishments, but then refuse to make organic veggie burgers available for students, patients and staff.

To bolster his case, Oppenlander includes short chapters on health, global hunger and animal welfare. Again, evidence of damage is presented along with a demand for redress of grievance.  Again and again leaders and their organizations are found wanting and in denial, and the jury too timid, choosing to remain comfortably unaware, rather than to make tough decisions and take bold yet rational actions, requiring just a bit of courage.

This book is a good choice for those looking for a wake up call, served up at high volume. It may, however, be a less effective tool for those looking for incremental approaches and a take-you-by-the-hand style. The author would have done well to consider the sensitivities of human psychology, and the emotional flavor of food and all it represents, a little more than he does. Mary Poppins did have a point when she said that “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.”

Yet the book is so well researched that everyone can profit from it on some level regardless of operating style and personality. For too long the veg world has underplayed the environmental case for a plant-based diet, and we welcome this book for doing so much to make up for that shortcoming. With endorsements ranging from the famous anthropologist, Jane Goodall, to the President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, Neal Barnard M.D., we take this opportunity to add our recommendation for this important book.

How should I tell my date that I’m vegetarian?

The following is an extract from our latest book, Say No to Meat, by Amanda Strombom and Stewart Rose. You can learn more about our book, and buy a copy online.

Say No to Meat Book Cover

How should I tell my date that I’m vegetarian?

Be up front about it. They’ll find out soon enough anyway. When you first start dating someone (let’s assume it’s a “him” for ease of writing, but these suggestions work for women too), you may be nervous as to how he will react to the idea that you’re a vegetarian. The key is to be honest about it, but not make it too big of a deal.

Avoid problems. You probably don’t want him to invite you out to a steakhouse for dinner, so make sure that he knows you’re vegetarian before your first meal out together. If your first date is at a restaurant, you might have to mention your dietary preferences right away, but ideally wait until you can bring up the subject in casual conversation.

Gently raise the issue. You might start by asking what kinds of food he likes to eat. This will give you an idea of how flexible and open-minded he might be to your eating choices. Whatever you do, don’t belittle his food choices: you want him to respect your choices, so you must respect his. It’s a two-way street.

Now it’s your turn to mention that you happen to be a vegetarian. Hopefully he’ll be equally respectful about your choices. If he isn’t, then you may have to gently point this out to him. He could have lots of questions at this point. Remember that many people just don’t know anything about this way of eating, so keep your answers short and respectful.

It’s decision time. Based on his reaction, you can decide whether you want to continue the relationship, but remember that he may just need time to get used to the idea. For now, you know that he knows, and you can focus on discovering the many other interests you do have in common.

Why is it important for America to change the food it eats?

Say No to Meat Book CoverThe following is an extract from our latest book, Say No to Meat, by Amanda Strombom and Stewart Rose:

Raising meat is weakening America and threatening our future. That burger at McDonald’s may cost only a dollar but it’s really very expensive. Meat is costing us dearly in human terms, in terms of health-care costs, and in terms of the quality of our land, air, and waterways.

A country is only as strong as its people are healthy. Meat has cost more American lives than all the wars in history put together. There’s a nutritional crisis in America today threatening the health of its people. Deadly diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and some cancers linked to a meat-centered diet are running rampant, causing needless suffering, shortened lives, and a staggering medical bill that our country no longer has the money to pay.

Part of the richness of America comes from our beautiful and bountiful land and waters. Raising the grain needed to feed livestock erodes our soil, the waste produced by livestock pollutes our waters, and the greenhouse gases the animals emit contribute to global warming. Fixing the damage caused by the livestock industry is costing America a fortune.

While America still faces serious threats from abroad, there’s also a battle to be fought on the home front. Meat threatens our lives and our land. Seen from this perspective, there are few acts more patriotic than becoming a vegetarian. America has always risen to meet every challenge. A country strong enough to save the world from both fascism and communism can save itself from damaging food choices.

Aren’t Our Bodies Designed to Eat Meat?

This is an extract from our book, Say No to Meat, by Amanda Strombom and Stewart Rose.  

Aren’t our bodies designed to eat meat?

Just ask yourself this question: Can you or anyone you know run out into a field, chase down a cow, and with nothing but your teeth and your fingernails, kill it, cut through its hide, and eat its meat raw? Do you know anyone who can even chase down a squirrel? Now ask yourself this question: Do you know anybody who can’t pull a carrot out of the ground or an apple off a tree? The only way we can eat meat is because we have developed tools and weapons to do for us what our bodies could never do on their own. While we can use our brains to obtain all kinds of unnatural food, our health is best when we follow a more natural diet.

Don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what William Clifford Roberts, MD, editor in chief of the American Journal of Cardiology has to say:

       “Although we think we are one, and we act as if we are one, human beings are not natural carnivores. When we kill animals to eat them, they end up killing us because their flesh, which contains cholesterol and saturated fat, was never intended for human beings, who are natural herbivores.”

The fact is that the human being is designed to be an herbivore (a plant-eater), but many people think that we are omnivores (creatures that can eat animal or plant foods).

It may take some time to get used to the idea of humans being natural herbivores, but if you compare our anatomy and physiology to those of carnivores (meat-eating animals), such as cats, and to omnivores, such as dogs or bears, you’ll see that we are quite different. Our back teeth are flatter for grinding, our front teeth are small for nibbling, our finger nails are more like hooves than claws, and our intestines are ten to twelve times our body length, just like many other herbivores such as gorillas, elephants, horses, and sheep. True carnivores and omnivores all have intestines that are only four to six times their body length, quite different from ours. Take a look at the chart above for comparison.

Just to make sure, medical researchers conducted an experiment where they fed meat to different animals. Despite being given huge amounts of meat, dogs and cats never got clogged arteries. But when an herbivore such as a rabbit was given meat regularly, it started to develop clogged arteries in a very short time. By comparing our bodies to those of carnivores and omnivores, and by observing the effect meat has on our bodies, we can see that we were not designed to eat meat.

 

 

Our Latest Book – Say No to Meat

Our newest book is a quick, easy and complete guide to all things vegetarian. It gives information and real-world advice that new vegetarians need the most, and  answers the questions that other books are afraid to ask, such as:

  • Why is a vegetarian diet so much better for our health?
  • What really happens to farm animals?
  • How does meat production damage the environment?
  • Why is cutting the demand for meat critical to solving global hunger?
  • Why aren’t society’s leaders talking about the problems caused by meat?

There’s also tips to handle any situation, such as talking to family, friends and dates about your food choices, choosing the best foods to include in your diet, learning what to look for when shopping, and getting a delicious meal at any restaurant.  There are over 35 starter recipes using easy to find ingredients, plus lists of famous people you never knew were vegetarians.

We’ll be posting some of the most interesting excerpts from this book and our other books from time to time, so watch this space!

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