on July 22, 2011
This book was mainly written for people who follow a vegan diet or are already considering it. It's a complete overview of vegan nutrition in all stages of life. While there is a short introduction on "why being vegan"... the authors quickly jump to the juicy part and cover the nutritional information all vegans need to know.
The authors have done their research! This is not a classic vegan book repeating the same old arguments. It provides clear nutritional guidance to help vegans stay healthy and design the most adequate diet possible. It's up to date science!
You'll discover interesting pieces of information in this book. For example:
- Vegans can benefit from getting adequate amounts of protein. While it's true that almost nobody suffers from true protein deficiencies in the West, not getting adequate protein can result in muscle mass loss and poor bone health.
- Vegans should take a B12 supplement, even if they just started the diet. The old idea of "wait three years to do it because your body has reserves" is not the wisest.
- Why some vegans crash and fail to thrive, reverting back to animal foods, because they make their diet too restrictive and idealistic
- Getting the RDA for calcium is important for vegans. You'll discover which greens have a negative calcium balance and how to make sure you get enough calcium on a vegan diet, even without supplements
- Other nutrients to watch out about on a vegan diet (or any diet), such as vitamin D, iodine, zinc, etc.
- Ideas for making a vegan diet fun and easy to follow.
- Why it makes sense to take a vegan DHA supplement
- How to adapt a vegan diet to meet the needs of growing children, pregnant women, older people, etc.
This book does not contain a recipe section, but it does contain a lot of meal ideas.
It's filled with tables and useful references, so I would suggest buying the print version, as some of the tables are not as convenient to look at on the Kindle version.
You can tell that the book has been written by professional nutritionists. It's a very good reference, and a great starting point for any vegan.
I have both been a vegan and a grateful fan of the work of Ginny Messina and Jack Norris for many years. Both of them are truly unique among advocates of plant based diets simply because they refrain from hyperbole and don't promise that eating buckets of kale will lead to a life void of the inevitable: old age, sickness and death. That's not to say that veganism has not been a boon to my personal health: it has. But, like everyone else, I will die some day, and vegan eating doesn't change that.
Ginny and Jack keep the arguments about veganism all about the animals, even though they are both dieticians and devoted to human health and nutrition. But they are interested in healthy, happy vegans, too. They have written, at their own time and expense, for many years about the benefits and pitfalls of plant-based eating. They have made recommendations, and changed their positions many times as the science continues to unfold about human nutrition (which should be considered new and emerging). They have done so with kindness, compassion and without a hint of arrogance.
Vegan for Life, a brilliant double-entendre, is an exceptional book. If it's not the very first, it has to be among the very few that paints a reasonably complex picture of vegan eating that goes over every facet--- the good, the bad, the ugly and everything in between. They don't claim that everyone must eat ultra low-fat (quite the opposite); they don't push raw diets (or even recommend them, actually). I actually suspect that they will receive a fair amount of criticism for this book because of its refusal to oversimplify and paint with a broad brush; because they don't promise miracles, and because they admit that there's much we simply don't know about nutrition. But that's precisely what I find refreshing about their work, and this book in particular. Their honesty is precisely why I trust them.
I believe that all humans can become vegan. That's also my wish. However, I believe that it's not a one-size-fits-all way of eating, and we have yet to figure out how every person can become vegan, and stay vegan, successfully --- enjoying abundant health. Vegan for Life gives lots of useful information for people wanting to maintain good health, and for people who feel like they're struggling to get what they need. Vegan for Life shows that it's not impossible for everyone eat, and stay, vegan.
In my opinion, this book renders all other books on vegan nutrition written to date useless (not because other authors necessarily wrote bad books, but because this book incorporates the latest and greatest). And alas, Vegan for Life is written for the long time and brand new vegan alike; all of us are wise to pay attention because --- as the title suggests --- animal advocates want people to become vegan for life. Ginny and Jack are just the people to show us all how.
on June 29, 2011
After years of reading the authors' excellent blogs, I am very happy to have their outstanding book. Having been vegan for a number of years, I am always interested in keeping on top of the literature so that I do not develop any nutrition-related health issues. This book is based upon current, sound research and is presented in an easily read, enjoyable format. The authors are nationally (and perhaps internationally) respected professionals in their field-and both are Registered Dietitians. As a licensed professional myself, I am always concerned about the credentials of those who advise others on diet and health matters. This book is written by qualified, credentialed professionals.
That being said, I have to add that this is not a boring tome on nutrition or ethics--it is an easily read, fun yet informative book. Filled with easy to follow advice and suggestions.
They cover everything from how to eat, what to eat, and why one would eat vegan (e.g., ethical issues, health issues). Detailed discussions of supplements and menu suggestions are included. This is essential reading for anyone considering a transition to a vegan diet as well as those who have been vegan for some time.
I highly recommend Vegan for Life and thank and applaud the authors on this great book. It is my new "Bible" and go-to book for eating healthy and well. I ordered the hard copy for my patient waiting room and ordered the digital for my Ipad. I look forward to their future books!
on October 27, 2011
I think this a great book on Vegan nutrition. It covers all aspects of a Vegan diet, and how one can get all the proper nutrients from either supplements or different foods. These type of books are few and far between, so having this type of book is much appreciated.
Now my reservations. For some background, a few months ago I finished the book "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease" by Esselstyn, and to make a long story short, this book advocates a Vegan diet, but also a low-fat diet without added oils, nuts, avocados, etc. Its not an easy diet to follow, but it is proven to work against heart disease.
So back to this book, which I thought would be helpful to me as well. So I start reading and the authors start talking all about the great things a Vegan diet does for you. O.K. great. But then I start reading their take of how variations of a Vegan diet, like low-fat Vegan, or raw food Vegan is BAD for you, without giving many details. It was this "holier-than-thou" attitude that was a bit of a turn-off for me. Especially since Vegans get this from meat-eaters all the time, and now I have to hear basically "my Vegan diet is better than your Vegan diet" from the authors of this book.
Instead it would have been real nice for the authors to add a chapter for people on these diets and to give them advice on proper nutrition as well. Afterall, the book does have chapters for other groups, like those over 50. Or, at the least, the authors should acknowledge that people are on these diet modifications for a reason, and just live with that.
In any case, this is a good book that I found very helpful and I'd highly recommend it, especially if you are a straight Vegan, nothing more, nothing less. If you are on a low-fat or Raw Vegan diet, its still worthwhile but just not maybe as much as it could have been, if the authors had a bit more empathy for why people are on these diets.
on August 20, 2011
I wish I had read this book when I first went vegan a few years ago. Although I find a vegan diet to be convenient, delicious, and healthy, there are a lot of myths, both positive and negative, that fly around and this book combats them all with evidence-based pragmatism. Vegan diets are neither deadly protein drains or miraculous cure-alls. As a nursing student who has studied nutrition and anatomy and physiology extensively, I wholeheartedly endorse Norris and Messina's book. You will:
-learn about the many benefits of a vegan diet and get honest answers about the few pitfalls
-get the facts on which supplements are of concern to vegans
-get diet plans for pregnant and lactating women, infants, children, adolescents, athletes and people who want to lose weight (thank you for not promoting the lie that following a vegan diet means you'll be skinny! In fact, I gained weight after going vegan!)
-meal plans that focus on convenience, accessibility and affordability
-get the truth about soy (a bean!) and other nutrition talltales
While Norris and Messina encourage eating whole foods, they don't knock vegan processed foods, which frankly can help meet protein and calorie needs while adding variety and fun to the diet. They debunk myths about raw food diets while also acknowledging that yes, eating an abundance of raw plant foods is healthful but so is eating cooked beans.
My favorite part of the book is their section on different types of scientific studies. In addition to being a nursing student, I'm a former editor at a peer-reviewed clinical journal who spent years reading studies submitted by physicians and other health care providers. I've seen terrible studies and great ones. And I learned how to read beyond the press releases and really get behind the data. If you want help in wading through nutritional gimmicks, you need to understand how studies are conducted and how to interpret data. Kudos for Norris and Messina for including this important and easy-to-understand section.
Finally, they acknowledge that the greatest reason to go vegan is for the animals. They clearly explain the problems with animal agriculture and also discuss whether a vegan diet is feasible for the whole world. If you want straightforward facts that doesn't sugarcoat a very complex topic and you want practical steps to become vegan, this is the book for you. I also highly recommend Jack Norris' great blog, jacknorrisrd.com and the work he does at veganhealth.org.
on August 29, 2011
I highly recommend Vegan for Life for anyone contemplating or living a vegan lifestyle. Many people, from the famous to the average Joe and Jill are going vegan these days. Witness President Bill Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres and wife Portia, basketball star John Salley, Moby, Alanis Morissette, Natalie Portman, Alicia Silverstone, Betty White, Anne Hathaway, fitness guru Bob Harper, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D. Ohio) and wife Elizabeth, and so many more. It may be no surprise to you that Mahatma Gandhi was a vegan. This array of prominent folk is enough to get some people checking out the vegan way of life.
Since becoming vegan two and a half years ago, I have found there is so much to learn and often the advice out there conflicts and creates confusion and even anxiety. Vegan sites and blogs are filled with warnings and caveats galore. The experts can disagree, too. Some suggest raw foods only, others recommend omitting any added oils, and still others warn against soy or gluten products. Many urge against "processed" vegan foods. Protein requirements are confusing with various mixed messages from, "To avoid cancer, don't overdo protein" to "vegans never get enough protein!" A vegan is hard pressed to learn the truth for healthy vegan living.
For this reason, I am very glad to say that Vegan for Life, by registered dietitians Jack Norris, RD and Virginia Messina, MPH, RD (2011, Da Capo Press), brings much-needed clarity and reason to the discussion. The book sets out parameters for sensible and healthy plant-based eating, minus the doom and gloom warnings yet clearly stressing the realities. Vegans do need sufficient protein and they do need to supplement B-12 as well as calcium and D. Suggestions are given for these. The authors urge keeping the transition to vegan simple. Eat what you like, including meat substitutes such as vegan cold cuts, burgers, frankfurters, soy- and grain-based roasts, vegan cheese, non-dairy milks, vegan mayonnaise and so forth. They warn not to overly restrict calories, protein, fats, or food groups such as soy or gluten unless you have a medical condition requiring you do so. Plentiful scientific references are given for each chapter to back up their recommendations and perspective.
While not a cookbook per se, Vegan for Life offers many meal suggestions that are easy to follow. After reading the book, I felt a great relief that I could do this and do it well, and that while I must be aware of my nutritional requirements, I needn't obsess over everything related to my eating. As a health-care provider, eating issues and diet often come into the professional dialogues in which I engage, and when relevant, I suggest Vegan for Life along with other reading material. When Norris and Messina say on the book's cover, "Everything you need to know to be healthy and fit on a plant-based diet," they mean it! And they deliver.
on June 24, 2012
This is a MUST read book for all vegans, new and old. I have been vegan for 8 years, and I still learned new nutrition information from this book. Please read it if you are thinking of going vegan or have been vegan for years. The reason i gave it 4 out of 5 stars is because the book was not as great/ comprehensive as the book Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina. However, this book did have some new nutrition facts that were not covered in Becoming Vegan. The reason for this is because Becoming Vegan was written in 2000 and Vegan For Life was written in 2011. Nutrition knowledge changes quickly, so its smart to always read about new research findings.
on August 2, 2011
Vegan for Life covers everything a vegan or aspiring vegan should know about nutrition. The book shatters myths (vegans don't need to supplement b12 for three years, vegans need less calcium, oil is inherently unhealthy) that persist in the vegan community. The authors make a strong argument that the vegan community needs to place a high value on accurate health information if we want people to go vegan and STAY vegan. Beyond providing accurate, up-to-date, science-based information, Ginny Messina and Jack Norris give practical information about how to make meals that easily satisfy nutritional needs, whether you're pregnant, nursing, a young kid, an elderly adult, or an active athlete. The book also provides example meal plans and food suggestions that incorporate the kinds of foods people actually eat. Do yourself a favor and read this book.
on August 23, 2011
Yes, I am on a plant-based diet, however, this book applies to all eaters! If you gobble up a steak on a nightly basis, stick only with the plants, or are anywhere in between, you will find some really great hard science coupled with common sense information. The authors are both registered dieticians who know their stuff and just because they too, are plant-based, they are not in it to bash anyone who is not. You don't need to be a vegan to use the information from this book. If anything, it offers great insights on how and why to add more fruits/veggies/grains/nuts and seeds to your existing diet.
They start off the book by going through the vitamins/nutrients we all need, where we can find them and how our body uses them. Not difficult to read, but definitely technical. If you are interested in converting to a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle, there is a chapter on that. Sports nutrition, vegan babies/childhood/pregnancy/older adults is all covered too. I am just skimming the surface here. This is a great resource to add to your collection if you are a foodie or just curious about nutrition. (or....maybe you are vegan and you'd like some really great timely research to relay to friends and family members who might think your cuckoo for going vegan....)
on September 28, 2011
I really liked this book. Here are a few reasons why:
1. It is easy to read. I've gotten bogged down with nutrition books in the past and quickly lost interest. But this book strikes that fine line of being thorough but not overwhelming. I actually looked forward to reading this book and couldn't wait to pick it up again.
2. The authors present an honest look at vegan diets. They do not shy away from telling people about what the nutritional shortcomings may be and offering them solutions for dealing with them.
3. They make veganism seem attainable and realistic. I know from experience that veganism can be an easy lifestyle to adopt. The authors stress that we do not all have to be raw vegans eating no processed foods at all.
4. The authors base their information on scientific studies. And when the studies are not conclusive, they tell us. There is a lot of not-so-great nutritional advice out there, and these authors help weed out the bad information for us.
After reading this book, I feel much more confident with my vegan diet. I always knew that eating vegan made me feel good, but now I know how to be the healthiest vegan I can be, for life. And I now have an informed answer when people ask me questions about meeting nutritional requirements with a vegan diet. I highly recommend this book to all vegans & vegetarians and even to folks who are thinking about eating less meat. Go for it!