on October 13, 2000
I just read Brenda Davis' and Vesanto Melina's new book "Becoming Vegan" and am thoroughly impressed with the material and its presentation.
The authors did a much more rigorous job of researching and presenting the current scientific data, presenting both the pro and contrary findings than in earlier works. I found the directness refreshing in comparison to some of the less scientific and more evangelistic writings that have been published.
-A unique and thought-provoking look at the relationship between diet and chronic disease and the protective effects of vegan diets against the leading killers.
-One of the most convincing and well researched explanations on why plant proteins are both adequate and preferable to animal protein as the major protein source for humans.
-The most comprehensive examination of dietary fat and essential fatty acids for vegans written to date.
-A thorough and practical discussion on all of the vitamins and minerals of concern to vegans, including calcium, iron and vitamin B12.
-Invaluable guidelines for people at various stages of the lifecycle: pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence and the senior years.
-A detailed and thoughtful discussion on matters of weight and shape including underweight, overweight and eating disorders.
-Straight-shooting advice about vegan diets and athletic performance.
-An exceptional vegan food guide, helping you design a well-balanced vegan diet.
-A lively discussion about diplomacy and how to handle sticky situations gracefully in this nonvegan world.
I suggest this to you as a must read and something for anyone either considering or already on a vegetarian or vegan diet.
on April 11, 2002
I am not a vegan, but am interested in the diet. I may give it a go, at least to see what it is like, after reading this book and seeing how straightforward and non-exotic it really is! I don't think I will ever be interested in the political aspects of Veganism, so the de-emphasized political tone was welcome in this helpful book, which did a lot to make it straightforward and non-intimidating! (If you want more history/political background, there are a number of excellent books out there you should read in addition to this one.)
The book is long on the nuts and bolts of veganism -- benefits and pitfalls, how to plan a varied, good tasting, healthy menu, how to get the vitamins and minerals that are more difficult to get on a plant-based diet, etc. It does not spend a lot of time on a soapbox, nor proselytizing -- I suppose the assumption is that the reader is open minded simply by the fact that he or she is reading it. Either way, it gives straightforward, no-nonsense advice on how to do it and be healthy while doing so!
One nice touch is a section towards the back called "Vegan Diplomacy" -- which has tactics of how to deal with non-vegans, especially those whose minds are a bit more closed to this kind of thing, and how to maintain good relations with a meat eating world!
This book is a "must have" if one is contemplating going Vegan or interested in the diet.
on October 3, 2003
I'm a vegetarian slowly moving into veganism. If you're interested in becoming vegan, this book is a good start. It provides excellent information on general nutrition, as well as details on vitamins and minerals to which vegans will want to pay close attention. It even includes a one-day meal plan for several different levels of caloric needs.
If you're a vegetarian or an omnivore wondering why anyone would become vegan, this is NOT the book you want. Melina and Davis, both registered dieticians, focus entirely on their specialty. There is no information about animal cruelty in the dairy and meat industries and no discussion of the environmental and social benefits of a vegan diet. There is also little mention of vegan concerns outside of diet, such as animal-derived products in toiletries. Except for the final "Vegan Diplomacy" chapter, the book is largely charts, graphs, and phrases like "docosahexaenoic acid." Despite this, "Becoming Vegan" is pleasantly readable.
Also, curiously, Melina and Davis choose to base their vegan eating pyramid on the USDA food pyramid, which has been heavily influenced by the meat and dairy lobby and is NOT the best guide to follow for optimal health. I suggest obtaining a copy of "Eat, Drink, and Be Healthy," the Harvard Medical School's guide to healthy eating, and using the special nutritional concerns covered in "Becoming Vegan" to adapt the omnivorous advice in that book to a vegan diet.
This is a worthwhile buy for anyone considering veganism. If you're already vegan, it is a great tool for ensuring your diet is nutritionally optimal and for dealing with detractors who doubt a vegan diet is adequate for human health.
on July 24, 2001
I've recently become vegan for health reasons, and this book is my bible. It contains all the up-to-date nutrition information you need to make smart food choices on a plant-based diet. The authors manage to do something that few health writers can: they write for the lay reader without dumbing things down. So, as well as summarizing the data on vegan nutrition, they analyze the strong and weak points of the various studies--which are often based on very small numbers of vegan participants. If you are looking for a cookbook or a book that details the evils of the animal food industry and other philosophical and ethical reasons to become vegan, this is not it. But if you are looking for nutritional facts and advice on putting together a healthful diet at any stage of like, you won't be disappointed in this book.
on June 23, 2001
Anyone familiar with Becoming Vegetarian, written by the same authors, knows what a valuable resource it is for vegetarians or those hoping to make the switch to a vegetarian lifestyle. Now there is a similar book with all the latest nutritional information just for vegans. It covers everything you could possibly want to know about a healthy vegan diet, including detailed sections on fats, vitamins, and minerals; feeding children; eating while pregnant; overweight; eating disorders; and eating for athletes. Also included are chapters on the roots of veganism, plant proteins, carbohydrates, phytochemicals, vegan diplomacy, and more. This book was written by two of the foremost authorities on vegetarian and vegan nutrition, Brenda Davis, R.D. and Vesanto Melina, M.S., R.D. Brenda Davis is chair of the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group of the American Dietetic Association and a noted author, speaker, and educator. Vesanto Melina is the author of three vegetarian cookbooks and the coordinator of the vegetarian section of the Manual of Clinical Dietetics, 6th Ed. She is a respected speaker and consultant and has taught nutrition at the University of British Columbia and Bastyr University.... This book is sure to become a well-worn resource. --Reviewed by Melanie Wilson
on January 10, 2005
The best decision of my life was becoming a Vegan. I recoil at how I used to mindlessly chomp hamburgers, and although I'm an atheist, I can relate to St. Paul's road to Damascus experience. Not only was I damaging my health, I was unwittingly serving a very cruel factory farm industry. Not to sound hackneyed, but if I can make the change to veganism, ANYONE can.
Becoming Vegan is full of practical advice on consuming the right amounts of food, the right food, and the right nutritional habits. Unlike a lot of books on Veganism, it doesn't, to its credit, try hard to be fashionable, nor does it soft peddle the potential problems that Vegans may face in vitamin deficiencies.
Whether you're young, old, athletic, sedentary, or have special needs, the book will almost certainly be useful in your transition to veganism. I sincerely hope that you'll check it out.
on February 2, 2006
I bought this book because my husband and I have tried (and failed) at going vegan several times. In the past, we've always given up because we got lazy about planning our meals or weren't confident that we were meeting all of our nutritional needs. This year, we made a New Year's resolution to get back on track as vegans AND learn how to do it the right way.
First, let me say that this book is NOT a cookbook. And it's not "fun" or "political" reading like a lot of vegan-oriented books tend to be. It's very serious (and sometimes dense) reading. That said, this book made me feel much more committed (and confident) about being a vegan than almost any other book I've read.
Brenda Davis has created a full-fledged "how to" guide for being a smart and healthy vegan. She walks you through all of the nutritional needs that a human being has and then explains how a vegan can meet all of these needs while reaping the benefits of the world's most healthy diet. She provides sample eating plans for those who are looking to lose, gain, or maintain weight. She also has separate chapters on vegan pregnancy and the nutritional needs of vegan children.
Another nice benefit of this book is that it tackles a lot of the questions (either rude or curious) that you're bound to get, as well as the many awkward situations you can find yourself in (i.e., thanksgiving dinner). She offers graceful answers and practical solutions for all of these problems, with an awareness that most of us don't want to insult our friends or loved ones by the way we choose to explain veganism.
Finally, this book avoids one of the major pitfalls that a lot of other vegan books fall into--preaching to the choir. It doesn't spend much time talking about the nasty practices of the meat and dairy industries or the ignorance of those who choose to eat their products. Instead, it focuses on the positive, health-oriented reasons for following a vegan lifestyle. I came away feeling energized, committed, and optimistic about my re-committment to being vegan.
In sum, I HIGHLY recommend this book for vegans, both new and experienced. If you're just starting out, this book will put you on the right path. If you've been vegan for years, but never bothered to learn about your nutritional needs, this book will help you get the most out of your committment to an animal-free lifestyle.
on April 7, 2003
I won't rehash what has already been said. My story is that I gained 50 pounds with a pregnancy (due to lackluster eating habits). After delivery, I was determined eat right so I read books by Ornish and McDougall which recommend (mostly) vegan diets. I still wasn't convinced that not eating dairy products was a good idea, so I went ahead and bought this book even though at the time I couldn't even pronouce the word "vegan" correctly.
This book is an awesome find and gives a VERY complete run-down on the pros (many) and cons (few, but important) of the vegan diet and allowed me to adopt a plant-based diet with confidence and without fear. There is so much good nutritional information packed in this book that I hate that the word "vegan" in the title (although accurate) might prevent this book from becoming a mainstream resource on nutrition.
I'm just sooooo glad that I found it. And by the way, not only did I very quickly lose those extra unwanted pounds, but now my daughter is getting a healthy start to boot. Not a bad deal.
on December 8, 2004
I bought this book because it was highly recommended by other Amazon readers. I was not as impressed with it as I thought I would be. It contains a very thorough discussion of all the details of a healthy vegan diet (and why eating vegan is so healthy), but after three or four chapters of endless unpronounceable nutritional chemicals, it becomes difficult to finish the book, let alone remember many of the specifics.
The book is also repetitive. After the initial chapters on protein, fats, carbs, vitamins, minerals, etc., it goes into much of the same material in specific chapters for pregnancy, lactation, toddlers, teenagers, elderly people, etc.
Because I am newly transitioning from vegetarianism to veganism I am very interested in the issues discussed in this book, but after six chapters I started to feel a little bit like a fanatic reading about all these dietary details and I haven't finished the book yet.
However, the chapter on eating disorders was very good I thought.
on October 22, 2001
I've been a Vegan for the last three years, and I still found this book an incredible resource. The language on dietary considerations is very down-to-earth and easy to understand, while getting all the facts across.
I gave copies of this book to some friends who were looking at making the very difficult (for most of us) shift from being a vegetarian to being a vegan, and it helped aleive many of their doubts.
It's scary changing our diets, and there are certainly dangers in making the change over to a animal productless diet; these dangers are clearly articulated in this book, and suggestions are given at how to best compensate for the lack of certain key items (such as the infamous Omega fatty-acids).
The most interesting parts to me were the age specific parts. When my child is born, I will want to raise him or her as a vegan, but I would never jeopardize their health; this book gave me a newfound hope, and some very important bits of advice.