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Breaking Vegan: One Woman's Journey from Veganism, Extreme Dieting, and Orthorexia to a More Balanced Life Paperback – November 1, 2015
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About the Author
Jordan Younger runs the blog The Balanced Blonde (formerly The Blonde Vegan, or TBV) and is a student at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, where she is studying to become a health coach. Jordan began her blog in June 2013 to share her healthy vegan recipes and colorful food photos. The blog quickly became popular, but a year later, Jordan found herself struggling with health issues due to her diet and decided to quit veganism. Her blog post "Why I'm Transitioning Away from Veganism..." immediately went viral and landed her a feature on People.com, among others. Today, her blog focuses on balanced eating and living through whole-foods based recipes that celebrate healthy satisfaction over sacrifice.Jordan has been featured in Teen Vogue, Women's Health Magazine, NY Mag, The New York Daily News, The Huffington Post, Harper's Bazaar Australia, Cosmopolitan Australia, Health.com, Elite Daily, People.com, Vogue Turkey, Well + Good NYC, WorldLifestyle, Racked, Fitness Magazine, and more. She has also been featured on ABC News' Good Morning America, Nightline, CBS' The Doctors, Pivot's Take Part Live, HER Radio, Radio MD, Toronto's CBC Radio, NPR.Dr. Steven Bratman began his career as an organic farmer in upstate New York in the late 1970s. After attending medical school, he practiced alternative medicine, including acupuncture, herbal medicine, and dietary therapy. In the late 1990s, he directed a research project evaluating and summarizing all published scientific evidence on alternative medicine methods. He coined the term orthorexia in an article in Yoga Journal in 1997. Dr. Bratman is the author and editor of numerous articles and books, including the Natural Health Bible and Health Food Junkies. Currently, he practices preventive/occupational medicine in the San Francisco Bay Area.
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You know the half-baked explanation they offered when asked about their sudden loss of interest? "Breaking Vegan" is that half-baked explanation in book form. It doesn't really make any sense, it seems a bit embellished, and overall it just looks more like a desperate attempt to save face than anything else.
I read a lot of the reviews of this book both before and after it, and to be honest, I don't think there's much honesty in 90% of the reviews here. I think that a lot of the negative reviews are directed at the title without considering the content, and a lot of the positive reviews are based on their perception of the author and not of the book. I do take issue with the title of the book, but only because the content doesn't really justify the title.
At it's core, this book is a "memoir" about somebody's very recent experiences about working through an eating disorder. Everything else aside, she was starving herself in the name of healthy eating, and that wasn't working out for her. She knew something was wrong, her family knew something was wrong, but she tried to keep it up until her dangerously deficient diet became simply impossible to keep up with. That's what the majority of this book is about, and if that's what you want to read, don't let me get in the way.
I have a problem in that the author of this book seems to have a real issue in differentiating what advice she should listen to and what advice he can safely pass on. This problem is compounded by the fact that she also has a problem with identifying causation. This is a problem because the author writes from a position of experience and authority, and it seems implied that she wants to provide an example for people in similar situations to follow, but the reality of the situation is that her story just doesn't make any sense in parts: the very first page of the book includes a disclaimer saying that she took veganism too far, but that she's not "bashing" veganism. Later in the book, her nutritionist offers to build vegan meal plans and assures her that it would be possible to do so, but the author refuses for her own personal reasons. Next thing you know she's talking about how quickly she started recovering after eating animal products, as if that's what the tipping point was. The author really wants to assert the importance of her "breaking vegan" (which should be obvious, since she titled the book that) but at the same time her story doesn't really back this up at all. And I guess if she would have been consistent in sticking to the "moving past dietary restrictions was more important to me than anything else" explanation, I would totally have understood, it's just that she deviates from that story a few times and half-heartedly vaguely implies on several occasions in the book that there was some level of medical necessity in eating animal products, and this is where the story repeatedly goes off the rails. In one chapter it's some bizarre assertion that her "hormones were out of whack" that required animal products, and in another chapter she finds herself actively denying that it's her "vegan diet' that is causing her health problems (with the implication that this really was the problem, and that she was in denial.) And I guess I wouldn't have much issue with the fact that the author is selling a story that veganism was a significant part of her problem if she wasn't going to great lengths to deny this very obvious truth. I understand she doesn't want negativity surrounding this book, but I don't think she should really assume protection from criticism, and I don't think she's really directly addressed any of the meaningful criticism she's received thus far, and I don't think she's going to.
And this brings me back to my opening statement about the friend that dove into running and then dropped it just as quickly: I don't think the author of this book is directly addressing criticism because I don't think she can. The author dove into something resembling a vegan lifestyle, immediately built an identity around it, built a business around it (a business impacted by her decision to leave veganism that is referenced about as much as her health in this book) and then very quickly realized she was in over her head. There are obviously two completely separate subjects of this book; the author's experience with disordered eating and the author's decision to leave her then-newly acquired vegan lifestyle. There is an attempt to draw a relationship between the two, but the book ultimately fails and doing so, and this is where the book stumbles. Without a solid connection between these two concepts, this book is just disjointed with no real standout qualities.
And finally, the real elephant in the room here isn't whether the author uses the word "vegan" correctly or whether the title (and awful subtitle) of this book unfairly presents a poor view of veganism, or if the author ever truly was vegan (which seem to be the main complaints I've seen in the other reviews.) The real elephant in the room is that this book is very obviously an attempt to win back and maintain some bit of relevance that the author lost when she decided to stop being vegan. The book is chock full of references to how she risked her business in doing so, and outlines very clearly that her revenue comes from selling things to her online following and accepting money in exchange for promotions and advertorial content. I think it's really clear that this book is just a vehicle for marketing and brand building and isn't really a genuine effort in any sense of the word, which is why I just can't bring myself to see any value in it or rate it more than the absolute minimum.
But I can't understand why you would use and link the term vegan(ism) when writing about eating disorders and the issues with the self-image of many girls (and guys). If you were a vegan involved in the community you should have seen that reaching out to the mass and showing the ethics veganism stands for is a difficult job. One that requires tactical communication and a lot of patience. For the sake of the animals, the planet and the health of many that would benefit by a balanced vegan diet; please clarify to many that this has nothing to do with veganism as a lifestyle. You just created another excuse for people to stay away from veganism, which could do a lot of harm to our planet. Rather focus on showing people how to eat healthy and balanced (preferably vegan) but without becoming too obsessed. This way people might still try veganism without being too afraid to be too obsessed by clean eating. Just show them vegan cake, pizza and chocolate milk, next to the healthy stuff and it will be fine for all beings :)
Take care, I hope you are still doing fine and hopefully one day you'll be able to find your balance in living vegan <3 Love!