64 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2012
I graduated from naturopathic school in 1982 and run two clinics in the Seattle area. I've also written my own book, Nutrition-1-2-3. Lots of positive things have happened over the past 30 years. To mention three:
* Science is daily showing us the wisdom of treating the causes of diseases with natural medicine and the fallacy of treating symptoms with toxic drugs.
* We know much more about nutrition and the metabolic pathways that influence disease.
* More people are interested in eating better.
Regarding the third point; on the negative side there is massive amounts of misinformation and many people are adopting diets that are either inherently unhealthy or at least not healthy for them as an individual. I've been counseling sick vegetarians for 30 years and often find it difficult to overcome the false information that they've embraced. Not that vegetarianism is always unhealthy, some do quite well with it, but it is a diet that requires some basic information about foods (many don't know the difference between a protein and a starch), more work, and genetic favorability.
Because of this, I was excited to read Beyond Broccoli: Creating a biologically balanced diet when a vegetarian diet doesn't work. Susan Schenck, Lac does a good job of laying out many of the pitfalls of vegetarianism. In chapter 2 she lists 22 myths regarding protein, meat and vegetarianism and dispels them. She also has good chapters on the evolution of the human diet, the fat debate, and the missing nutrients in vegetarian diets. She even writes about the spiritual and environmental aspects of vegetarianism in a provocative way. Indeed the scope of this book is wide and very well organized.
After reading the first 182 pages I thought I'd found a great book to recommend to practicing and would-be vegetarians. Unfortunately the bulk of the book is spoiled by the last 20 plus pages in which she advocates for a raw food diet. Here her argument is shaky. For instance she acknowledges the research showing that humans have been cooking foods for as long as 1.4 million years, yet insists that we'd be better off if we didn't cook. There's good evidence evolution depended on cooking foods to extract more calories and nutrients, but she believes we should move back and, in a sense, start over.
She also makes the same kind of mistakes that others without a deep understanding of physiology make when assessing diets, for instance mixing up the speed at which food passes through the digestive system with the effectiveness of digestion and assimilation. Because raw food passes through faster is not better! The speed of passage depends on multiple factors and the digestive system is capable of delaying passage while more nutrients are assimilated. She also trots out the old argument about proper digestion requiring the enzymes contained in raw foods, even though our digestive juices are many times stronger and those enzymes have a difficult time with the cell walls tough cellulose exterior. Fire weakens cellulose quite well. And "parasites may not pose a threat" doesn't hold a candle to microbiology's fiery discoveries.
Certainly the average person cooks too much and would benefit from eating more raw food, but that doesn't mean everything raw all the time.
In summary, the bulk of this book is a good resource for those considering a vegetarian diet, perhaps an antidote to all the many pro-vegetarian books out there. As for the last 20 pages, use them to light a fire and slow cook a warm meal.
Tom Ballard, RN, ND
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
on October 16, 2011
I've never been tempted to become a vegetarian, let alone a raw foods vegan, and after reading this book by Susan Schenck, LAc, I'm glad of it.
Schenck spent several years eating and promoting a raw vegan diet before realizing it was seriously compromising her health. She then curbed her carb intake and added animal-based protein. She has written about her experiences in Beyond Broccoli: Creating a Biologically Balanced Diet When a Vegetarian Diet Doesn't Work (247 pages, Awakening Publications, 2011).
Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book. I probably would not have bought a copy because the vegetarian hook doesn't work for me. Those who have chosen, or are thinking of choosing, a vegetarian diet, and who have some doubts about the choice, would be the primary audience for Beyond Broccoli.
That said, I enjoyed the book and learned from it. Schenck provides a comprehensive look at the historical, nutritional, cultural and even moral aspects of my favorite kind of diet: low-carbohydrate. She adds the additional wrinkle of a raw low-carb diet. Anyone interested in reducing carbs should find the book to be a useful resource. Still, the people who need to read it the most are those who are eating a vegan or vegetarian diet, and like Schenck experiencing nutrition-related health problems.
For people like that, the book could be a life-saver.
Susan Schenck is a Licensed Acupunturist with masters degrees from Indiana University and Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. (I also have a masters from Indiana, but as far as I know, we have never met.) Schenck's main credentials are her experience and her reading. Beyond Broccoli is thoroughly researched and documented. It contains 14 pages of notes and six pages of selected bibliography.
The book is organized into five parts, each with several chapters:
1. The Vegetarian Mystique
2. Evolution of the Human Diet
3. Finding Balance in Fats, Carbohydrates, and Proteins
4. Morality, Spirituality, and Sustainability of Eating Meat
5. What's for Dinner?
You get a clear idea of the scope and structure of the book from those section titles. The first two sections covered material that I was somewhat familiar with from other sources, such as Robb Wolf's The Paleo Solution. Like Schenck, Wolf was a vegetarian who found his health failing and switched to a diet with more animal-based foods and fewer plant-based carbs.
One thing I learned from Schenck is the definition of "veganism," which she says is "a new, stricter version of vegetarianism that prohibits not only meat, but also all animal foods, including eggs, dairy, and gelatin capsules. . . . The word "vegan" was coined in 1944 by British carpenter Donald Watson, founder of the now-world-wide Vegan Society."
In Part 1, she also describes the moral -- and moralistic -- aspects of the vegan diet, which its rabid adherents see as "kind to animals, eco-friendly, sustainable, and planet saving."
It's everything except healthy. Schenck lists examples of long-time vegans who have added foods such as raw liver, eggs and fish oils into their diets to deal with vitamin deficiencies. Among the health problems she associates with a vegetarian diet (and especially a raw vegan diet of the type she followed) are tooth decay (from eating large amounts of fruit), extreme fatigue, body bloat, lack of concentration, forgetfulness, and depression. Schenck cites numerous and authoritative published works to back up these claims, as well as her own experiences and those of her friends.
Part 2 of the book provides an evolutionary explanation for why we need meat. This is an argument that most of us in the low-carb/ paleo community are familiar with through the writing of Art DeVany, Mark Sisson, Robb Wolf and others. While nothing in this section surprised me, Schenck presents the theory (actually, several related theories) in a clear, persuasive manner and incorporates vivid details and examples. She notes that the earliest primates 65 million years ago were "primarily insectivores" who "only later ate fruit." Thus, from the start, animal-based protein was a big part of the primate diet. Closer to our own era and species, Homo Sapiens and their big brains gained an evolutionary edge 40,000 years ago on a diet rich in shellfish. They maintained that edge and those big brains for thousands of years on diets of meat, fish, greens, fruits, roots, and nuts. Then after the invention of agriculture 10,000 years ago, and the substitution of grain for much animal-based food, average human brain-size shrunk by 10-15 percent. With agriculture came civilization, but with civilization came a decline in human physical stature and health. The diseases plaguing us so much today -- obesity, diabetes and hyper-tension -- are diseases of civilization.
As I said, the general ideas of Part 2 are well-known in the low-carb community, and this is perhaps even more true of Part 3: "Finding Balance in Fats, Carbohydrates, and Proteins." In this section, Schenck takes up many familiar themes: carb addiction, Syndrome X, insulin resistance, the "Big Fat Lie" and the "Cholesterol Con," the benefits of curbing carbs, the hazards of soy, the advantages of seeds and nuts, eggs as a super food, and the physiological (if not political) correctness of eating meat. Schenck is more cautious about dairy and salt intake than I am, but for the most part I found myself nodding in agreement throughout Part 3. As with all the sections, this one is based on solid research.
Part 4 was more of a revelation to me. In this section, Schenck considers the morality, spirituality, and sustainability of eating meat. I pretty much have ducked these issues on my blog ([...]). In the first instance, I have no moral conflict over eating meat. Therefore, I have no problem accepting Schenck's basic response to the vegetarian's moral stance: "Vegetarians think that we, unlike other animals, are capable of moral decisions and thus should not eat animals, since we have other food options. I agrue that most of us would reach mediocre levels of health at best without a bit of flesh."
She goes on to argue that the real morality issue is over modern factory farms and slaughterhouses. Such mass-production enterprises create miserable, horrific living conditions for animals, and low quality meat for us. Writes Schenck: " The karmic 'revenge' of the farm animals translates into poor health to all who consume their desecrated meat."
I have no problem with that idea, either.
Of course, raising enough animals on the open range and in green pastures to feed everybody seems like a tall order, indeed. Morality aside, one of the strongest arguments for a vegetarian diet is that grains are the only way to go to feed a world population of six billion plus people. That the human population has grown so large is the main problem, and such an unnaturally large population may not be sustainable by any type of food-production system. At any rate, Schenck argues, a grain-based diet is not healthy for the individual and therefore cannot be healthy for the planet long-term: "What works for the macrocosm has to work for the microcosm."
A diet heavy in wheat, corn and soy most assuredly will not work in the microcosm, but will produce an "arthritic, diabetic, cancer-ridden population with chubby or obese bodies and dull minds."
Sound like any population you know? If not, take a closer look around you.
Schenck's bottom line advice is, "If you are at less than peak health, forget about saving the planet; save yourself!"
Part 5, the final section, lays out an argument for eating a raw low-carb diet. That's right: Schenck advocates eating raw meat. If you can't bring yourself to do that, she says you should at least cook your meat as lightly as possible. She claims that cooking adds toxins to the meat. I've read other sources that make the same point, and I believe it is best to avoid char-broiling and other high-temperature cooking techniques. But I am a ways from eating raw meat. I have less trouble with Schenck's call for us to demand "clean meat" from grass-fed animals raised in pastures, not factory farms. Indeed, I strongly support that call. Schenck concludes the book with a chapter outlining what she calls a "balanced, high-raw, near-paleolithic diet." Except for the "high-raw" aspect, it's reasonably close to the diet I have been eating for the past seven months, with splendid results for my waist-line and my overall health.
While she hasn't convinced me to eat uncooked or even lightly cooked chicken and turkey, Susan Schenck has convinced me that she has many sensible, hard-won ideas on diet. Her book Beyond Broccoli is well worth your attention -- especially if you are a vegetarian or are considering becoming a vegetarian.
14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2013
Having read Ms Schenck's Live Food Factor, it is little wonder she failed on a raw vegan diet where she outlined her daily menu of juice and a few seeds for breakfast; salad with little or know dressing for lunch; and a raw soup for dinner. There would not be enough calories in that diet to even perform basic physiological functions. It is easy to see why her health was failing. A rabbit could barely exist on that menu! I myself am what I would define as a largely raw, fairly high fat pescetarian. I do however believe that some people can thrive on vegetarian and raw vegan diets if they are carefully executed. Unfortunately, like with most 'diets' this usually is not the case. A well balanced diet, with or without animal foods depends entirely on the individual to self educate, filter the information gathered and apply the knowledge learned. One could be eating a paleo diet that is unbalanced if the range of food included is not nutritionally diverse. Get informed, educate yourself by reading not just books, but peer reviewed articles and take the nutritional advice of Ms Schenck with a grain of salt. Save your hard earned money to spend on high quality nutritionally dense food instead.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2011
I just finished reading "Beyond Broccoli" and was genuinely impressed. It is one of the best nutrition books I have read, and I have read quite a few. I believe Susan Schenck spent a lot of time researching the topics she covers, and she has used her own body as a laboratory to see what dietary strategies worked for her. Moreover, she has known many people in the vegan/raw foods community and has an intimate acquaintance with the pitfalls of such a diet for most people, though as she admits, it does seem to work for some.
As Susan Schenck writes, she strictly followed a raw vegan diet for years, and although she felt great at first, she noticed after some time a progressive deterioration of her health, as well as the health of friends who followed this diet. Resisting the considerable pressures of fellow vegans, she sensibly reintroduced animal foods back into her diet and noticed that her health improved to a level much higher than it had ever been in the past. Even though she ate meat when she was younger, she did not eat high-quality raw or semi-raw food that she advocates in this book, and this has made all the difference for her, for reasons she supports scientifically as well as subjectively.
After much research and self-experimentation, she arrived at the conclusion that our bodies thrive best on the diet that they evolved eating--what is called by some the "paleolithic diet." Our pre-agricultural ancestors ate meat whenever they could get it, as well as an abundance of vegetables, nuts, seeds and some fruit. They also did not have access to the grains that form the base of the nutritional pyramid that our government advocates. Susan discusses at length how health deteriorated after the agricultural revolution when grains became staple foods. In fact, I remember reading in Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs and Steel" that skeletal comparisons of post-agricultural people with those of hunters and gatherers indicated that cranial capacity and bone density had decreased in the former, whereas by all appearances, the later appeared to have enjoyed robust health. If we follow Susan Schenk's guidlines in "Beyond Broccoli," I believe we can regain this level of robustness.
I base this opinion on my experiences with my own diet and my observations of others. I have had a busy acupuncture practice for over 21 years, and I have treated a wide-range of people with chronic health conditions. I naturally discuss diet with many of them. Many of the very sick people I have seen have eaten or still eat a diet way too high in carbohydrates (especially refined carbs), as well as non-organic fruits and vegetables, and farm-raised meat and fish. I have also seen patients who followed a vegan diet and were quite sick, for all the reasons Susan points out.
"Beyond Broccoli" offers very sensible dietary solutions to health issues that are based on sound research and common sense. A must read for those interested in regaining or maintaining their health.
Steve Phillips, M.A., L.Ac. (Licensed Acupuncturist)
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
"Many vegans ruined their nervous systems and brains before B12 and DHA were discovered." ~ Susan Schenck
I have tried to be a vegetarian and lasted two weeks. I also have tried incorporating raw foods into my diet with some success. I've also read many diet books that left me feeling confused. What one expert tells you to eat, another denounces. By reading "Beyond Broccoli" I was hoping to find out more about a raw food diet and how to eat healthier. I was not disappointed. Susan Schenck has done her research and presents a very fair and balanced approach.
Why should pregnant women not be vegetarians?
Do vegetarians really live longer?
Did you know that eating an excess of fruit can cause cavities or even tooth loss?
What is the real cause of heart disease?
What is the real cause of the obesity epidemic?
When is the only time you can safely eat raw oysters?
Is living on a diet of soybeans and grains really toxic?
Susan Schenck answers these questions and more. I found reading this book to be a completely captivating experience. Throughout this book Susan also explains why a vegan or vegetarian diet is "inadequate for optimal health." She used to be a vegetarian and ate mostly raw foods and she did blood tests and was not happy with the result. For some reason her body can't handle being a pure vegetarian, she needs to eat some meat. Basically she had a deficiency of Vitamin B12 even though she took supplements and injections. When she started having memory problems she also feared that she might have caused damage to her central nervous system.
What this book really does is make a case for eating raw meat and other raw foods. It also makes you aware that you should shun factory-farmed meat and try to buy organic whenever possible.
"Soy is one of the worst protein sources." ~ pg. 207 (This may shock some people who eat tofu all the time.)
This book has intriguing little tidbits, like for example Susan says that taking fish oil increases serotonin. I also especially enjoyed reading the chapter on myths. There are also some philosophical discussions about the morality of eating meat. Does it make you more or less spiritual?
If you listened to all the health advice about what to eat and not to eat you would end up eating very little. With all the dissenting voices who should you believe? Especially when views keep changing and we are just beginning to see the results of a vegetarian diet. After reading this book I felt that Susan Schenck was a trusted source of information since she has lived her truth. She writes from a lifetime of experience and her advice may just help you to live a healthier longer life.
The only things I'd question is her ideas about parasites and I don't think we should ever be allowed to kill elephants. It would have been helpful to explain a parasite cleanse because you can get parasites from eating raw fish. The only thing this book is missing is some recipes. The raw foods Susan eats sound delicious but there is little indication on how to prepare them. There is however a brief description on how to prepare raw meat. Even though I will probably never eat raw meat or fish I still found this book to be helpful.
~The Rebecca Review
I received a free copy of this book for review.
14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2011
While other authors in the health arena are prone to speak about diets, and diet is a topic trending nowadays, Susan is talking to us about nutrition. And one should bear in mind that speaking about food is not speaking about nutrients. I've eagerly read Susan's book, for I felt less than healthy after following a strict, otherwise "balanced", Mediterranean vegan diet. I realized I'd experienced every point she writes about. I wish to emphasize that I was following a consciously well selected vegan diet. I was not eating a pasta and tofu-naisse diet, but a nutrient-filled one of beans, vegetables, fruit, nuts... all vegan but nutritive. Anyway, my health was deteriorating as time was going by, to the point that I had to go to the hospital with severe nerve damage. It was only when I returned to eat fish and eggs, added to my otherwise "balanced" vegan diet, that I recovered my health and appetite for living. Susan hits the point however you see it.
In addition, she's not only speaking about anecdotically recovered people, but rather, she's done her homework, spending years researching for the subject, speaking with anthropology scholars, looking for peer reviewed papers for hours and meeting with health experts both in the "alternative" as in the "conventional" fields. You can like what she says or not. You can follow her steps if you feel you've tried a vegan diet but it seems not to work yet--or not. But what you cannot say is that she has not written a thoughtful and well researched and referenced book about nutrition, real nutrition further than a mere ideological treatise.
I hope this book makes you think about which is the "real" diet of the human organism, from a biological perspective, far from any ideology or diet as a mere philosophical issue. No more diets anymore. Welcome to the nutrition field. Where best to start than reading Susan's impressive work?
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2012
Finally, a well-known raw food writer with the guts to tell the truth: raw food will do wonders for your health, but veganism just might ruin it.
Newbies to the raw food diet are told that they have to be vegan in order to be raw. Who first sold us on this idea, when so many people don't thrive as vegans? Susan Schenck certainly didn't, and after six years on the raw vegan diet, with her health problems mounting, Susan decided to go looking for answers. This wonderful, well-researched book is the result, and she comes out swinging:
"I know there are many people who give up on raw when the real root of their health problems is their vegan diets, not the raw food. I know there are many people who feel great on raw vegan diets until two to ten years later, when their stored nutrients are depleted, as for example fat-soluble vitamins.
They have depleted themselves of nutritional reserves, but they can't imagine that the diet which made them feel so great could be the problem. It's not the raw aspect of the diet; it's the deficiencies that arise when we give up the important foods our species evolved on."
Amen sister! And that's just page one!
Beyond Broccoli is Susan's latest gift to the raw food movement, and is (in my opinion) even more valuable than her first book (The Live Food Factor), because this newest book is borne of actual years of experience as a raw vegan, and is not the starry-eyed gushing of a newbie to raw food (the case with authors of most raw food books). Beyond Broccoli is a seminal, groundbreaking piece of work, because Susan dares to confront the question that no one else in the raw community dares to ask (at least publicly): is the vegan diet really as healthy as we're led to believe? If it is, then why do so many people fail to thrive as raw vegans? If raw veganism is really the optimal diet for humans, then why is it so incredibly difficult to stay healthy on it? Why do so many crash and burn, including weight gain, tooth decay, loss of lean muscle mass, and the development of alarming deficiencies?
The raw movement is full of gurus selling crank science to naive followers. Susan separates herself from this crowd by actually taking the time to delve into LEGITIMATE (not crank) science to back up her claims, and she lays it out for us, page after page. She asks the difficult questions that other raw food writers dare not ask, because they have reputations and careers to protect, careers they built around claims that the vegan diet is optimal and right for everyone. For this, Susan has earned my endless respect and admiration.
If you're new to raw food, and wondering how to make this diet work for you over the long haul (avoiding the deficiencies and health decline that so many others run into), this is the book for you.
If you've been a raw foodie for years, and you're wondering what's gone wrong, why you're feeling so poorly and can't seem to get back the glow you enjoyed in your first few months or years as a raw vegan, this is the book for you.
If you're coming from a paleo or low carb diet, and are interested in taking your health to the next level by incorporating more raw foods, this is the book for you.
If you're a passionate vegan who believes you're going to thrive forever eating the way that you do, and that veganism is the optimal diet for every person on the planet, this is the book for you.
I recommend Beyond Broccoli to anyone with a serious interest in nutrition and optimal diet. Susan Schenck will make you think, and she'll make you question some of your long-held, most cherished beliefs around food. Here's hoping she inspires her colleagues in the raw food movement to come out of hiding and acknowledge what they're really eating behind the scenes. See folks! You can tell the truth, and do it with class. Let Susan Schenck show you the way...
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on September 11, 2011
This book has some very unique things to bring to the debate about meat eating, and the need for some animal-based nutrients. While Paleo people are touting our meat-eating evolution, and vegetarians stress the cruelty of factory farms and slaughter houses, Susan Schenck brings up BOTH issues and calls out for more compassionate eating practices, such as searching for cruelty free meat and paying more for it, but eating less of it.
I believe that most people will not stop eating meat--we evolved eating it and many of us (including my husband and I) have had a hard time feeling good on a vegetarian diet. We found it extremely difficult to wean ourselves from animal products, and actually never became vegan. But if we could just get everyone who does eat meat to make wiser choices, we could collectively get rid of the insane practice of factory farming!
Schenck also brings up the issue of health. What most Paleo folks don't realize is that their barbeques and grills are leading them to an early grave! Maybe the thought of eating raw meat doesn't appeal to you, but by simply steaming or searing your meat, you can prevent a lot of toxic byproducts--stuff that leads to cancer!
Susan has a great, direct way of telling the truth with no confusion possible! I took it to a family reunion over a recent weekend and "sold" two copies. Two family members both looked it over for a long time, discussed it with me and said they were going to buy their own copies!
Anyway, I love Susan's book. She is such a talented and thorough writer, who is unafraid to speak her mind! She also cites hundreds of studies, books, and articles in her usual comprehensive research-based writing. This book is not only a good read but an excellent reference source.
9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
What most excited me as I read this book was the opportunity to discover a practical way of eating that integrated everything I believed in and knew about nutrition in a way that fits me and my lifestyle. I believe in eating raw foods (but have never been able to stay raw for more than three and a half months) and believe in low carb eating (but could sustain that for even less time) and wished I knew a way of taking all of the food truth I knew, add to it the latest cutting-edge information about nutrition, and come up with a way of eating that would make sense and be scientifically based as well.
This book is the way. The author of the best-selling raw lifestyle bible "The Live Food Factor"--Susan Schenck--has "outed herself" here by revealing surprising new truths that have changed the way she eats and created some controversy in raw foodist circles. Each chapter explores a nutritional topic and covers not just scientific studies but also rich anecdotal evidence that is more speculative and interesting, especially for those of us that are early adopters. I read it quickly, as my reading could hardly keep up with my excitement. Chapters range from the story of how and why the author left a vegan lifestyle, to vegetarian myths, anthropological and historical issues, the history of the healthy eating movement, up to date information on pretty much every popular nutrition controversy, the morality of eating meat, the spirituality of eating meat, how different people including prominent vegans have changed their views recently, and so, so much more.
I felt as though I were going on a learning adventure, one in which I could find answers to so many things I've wondered about--the author has done her research and has thought through information from so many different sources. What I especially enjoyed was that this book is one that keeps pace with the leading blogs that are out there--it puts all the theories together and integrates them in a way that made sense to me. The author also includes throughout the book the importance of trusting your body, as well as ways of doing so, an idea that I think is vital to anyone developing a way of eating for themselves.
The conclusion of this book is that the healthiest diet is probably a balanced, high-raw, near-paleolithic diet--however, throughout the entire book the author emphasizes that everything must be customized for the individual and includes many, many ways of adapting your eating to something that works for you. For example, if you wish to remain vegan or vegetarian, she explores what changes you might make to be as healthy as possible.
The book is extensively annotated, and includes a list of resources, a select bibliography, and detailed index.
If you are someone who is or has been a raw foodist, a vegetarian, a vegan--or if you are a health seeker looking to integrate what we know about nutrition today to come up with a healthy optimal lifestyle--you will enjoy this book. You will enjoy it even more if you've tried any of these ways of eating and failed and then blamed yourself. This book will give you new hope.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2011
Many of you will probably know Susan Schenck because of her wonderful book "The Live Food Factor: The Comprehensive Guide to the Ultimate Diet for Body, Mind, Spirit & Planet". This publication is over 600 pages in length and has been referred to as the encyclopedia of the raw food diet".
In her latest book, "Beyond Broccoli, Creating a Biologically Balanced Diet When a Vegetarian Diet Doesn't Work", Susan outlines her own personal experiences with a raw vegan diet, as well as that of many others. She found that when she first started eating raw and vegan she felt wonderful for the first several years but after a while she started noticing a variety of health complaints.
Her hair was falling out, she was losing muscle, which was being replaced with flab, she was getting bags under her eyes and her memory was deteriorating. Even though she had been taking sublingual B12 for years, blood tests showed that she was seriously deficient in the vitamin.
Susan consulted natural hygienist Stanley Bass - who she now cites as being an important mentor - and he advised her to add a few raw eggs to her diet every day. After many years of being a committed vegetarian, and six years on a raw vegan diet, she was reluctant to consume meat or fish but was willing to compromise and add eggs, as well as a small amount of goat cheese, to her diet because she knew her health was suffering.
Even still, after about a year on this regime, as well as having regular B12 shots, her vitamin B12 levels were still not up to normal. This was when she decided that she needed to include meat in her diet again.
So she began consuming small portions of wild fish, organic chicken and grass-fed meat on an almost daily basis, as well as cutting back on her intake of carbs. This is when her health really took off and she started to experience enhanced mental clarity that sometimes exceeded that of her youth.
Her motive in writing "Beyond Broccoli" is to educate people about the possible dangers of following a strict vegan diet. She explains how raw and vegan diets can be deficient in certain nutrients, but that these deficiencies can sometimes take years to manifest.
This is why many people appear to do really well on raw vegan diets for the first year or two but very often find their health and energy levels begin to decline the longer they follow the diet. They find it hard to believe the diet that made them feel so fantastic in the beginning could actually be the source of their new health problems. Often those on raw vegan diets think they need to do some deeper cleansing and so become even more strict, when in actuality they may be exhibiting the signs of a deficiency in fat-soluble vitamins or long chain omega-3 fats.
When writing her first book, "The Live Food Factor", one of Susan's primary intentions was to highlight the large number of studies available that support the potential health benefits of the raw food diet. In "Beyond Broccoli" Susan's emphasis on verifiable scientific research is equally evident. She presents a carefully considered argument as to why at least some of us may find it challenging to thrive on a vegan diet as a long-term approach to eating.
However, one thing that has not changed in Susan's approach is her commitment to the importance of consuming a diet with a very high percentage of raw foods in order to support our optimal health. She asserts that the reason people's health can fail on raw vegan diets is not related to the raw aspect of the diet but rather occurs when we completely eliminate the animal foods that we have evolved to survive on.
Susan has stated she really didn't want to write this book and resisted it for over a year. Eventually she decided that she had to speak the truth because she realized that many people were giving up on raw diets when the real source of their problem was their vegan diets, not the raw food.
She asks readers to keep an open mind and consider her arguments from a rational rather than an emotional perspective. Even though you may be doing well eating a strict raw vegan diet, this doesn't mean that it works for everyone, she says.
She adds that it may be easier to adapt to a vegan diet if you start when you are young. Those who make the change in their forties or later may find their body less able to make the metabolic adaptations necessary to adjust to the change in diet than those who commence in their twenties.
Susan talks at length about metabolic typing, which she believes is one of the main reasons why certain people do well on high carbohydrate, fruit-based raw vegan diets, while others seem to function better with a higher intake of fat and protein. However, regardless of your type she asserts that almost everyone will benefit by including animal products in their diet occasionally. Her message is that we should include at least a little bit of animal foods in our diet - about 5 to 10 percent of caloric intake - preferably raw or only lightly cooked.
Overall I found this book to be very well researched and I appreciated Susan's careful documentation of her references so that readers can follow up on the scientific studies she mentioned if they want to do their own examination on a particular topic.
I believe that anyone truly interested in achieving optimal health and learning about nutrition will enjoy reading this book. Even if you are a committed ethical vegan you can greatly benefit from the information Susan presents on how to prevent deficiencies on a raw vegan diet with the use of superfoods and nutritional supplements.
No doubt many people will resist Susan's work on this topic and she has expressed that she has already received quite a bit of negative feedback. However, I applaud her commitment to searching for the truth and honestly communicating her personal experiences and knowledge on this very important subject.
Above all I value the concept that everyone is individual and that we all need to find out what works for us on our own personal journey. An attitude of tolerance and acceptance for every person's unique path is of paramount importance as we all strive to attain our highest potential of health and holistic wellbeing.