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Beyond Broccoli, Creating a Biologically Balanced Diet When a Vegetarian Diet Doesn't Work Paperback – August 20, 2011
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I first met Susan Schenck in the summer of 2009 in New York City, having already been introduced to her 600-page book, The Live Food Factor ... which I found full of a wealth of valuable information and advocacy of a vegetarian diet, even more so of the vegan diet and lifestyle. ...
During our first conversation, I told Susan about my experiences as a vegetarian (lacto-ovo) for more than 15 years, then as a Natural Hygienist, then about my many fasts totaling well over 1,000 days, one year on a 100 percent vegan diet followed by a two-year extension of the same raw vegan diet, then with my experiment with testing a 100 percent raw diet including raw animal food and meat for over ten years, also pointing out the dangers of heavy fruit eating and high-carbohydrate diet.
I told her about many patients of mine and the near-miraculous results which followed by a strict curtailment of high carbohydrates in the diet. Also about people who develop severe deficiencies in vitamins A, B12, D3, K, proteins, hormones, etc. on a strict vegan diet lasting two or more years, and then making rapid recoveries in a matter of weeks just by adding a small amount of raw animal foods to their diets. ...
Susan, after reading your new book in its entirety, I was greatly impressed by the extent and breadth of the research you did on the history of primitive man and the paleolithic diet, wherein you proved the superior health and success man experienced by the use of meat and animal food for almost three million years of history. This is one of the very best I have read on the subject, and I will recommend it highly to all who are instructed in superior health.
--Dr. Stanley S. Bass, ND, DC, PhC, PhD, DO, DSc, DD
Schenck, an ex-vegan, offers a holistic look at eating a mostly raw, meat-enriched diet, and how it benefits our physical health and spiritual well-being.
Schenck (The Live Food Factor, 2009), following years of coping with deficiencies in her body caused by living on a restricted raw vegan diet, has made a daring 90-degree turn: daring because the vitriol cast upon meat eaters from vegans and vegetarians can be extreme. Her book is, in part, as much a study of diets as it is an interesting window into the vegan and vegetarian communities. Although the author now eschews a strict vegan diet, she remains committed to eating a largely raw diet. Using numerous scientific studies inside and outside the “veg” box in addition to conclusions drawn from personal observations made by herself and other eaters, particularly fellow ex-vegans, Schenck explains why peak, long-term health for most people cannot be attained without at least some meat in their diet (by meat, she includes poultry and seafood). Schenck details a fascinating discussion of our evolutionary diet, much of which supports her argument that meat is a natural, crucial part of eating well, particularly for the healthy growth of brain tissue. In striking contrast to our apparently ancient diet is the relatively new and faulty low-fat, low-cholesterol diet promoted by the USDA. Schenck describes this transition as one of the great health cons of the 20th century—a conspiracy that benefits grain growers and drug companies, and results in increased obesity and diabetes among Americans. In one of the book’s final chapters, Schenck imparts a well-reasoned, impassioned argument for eating small quantities of good quality, wild or humanely raised meat, and eating it mindfully, with thanks given to the animal who gave its life. Though Schenck impressively elucidates the complex nutritional analysis and competing dietary theories for the lay reader, the book would benefit from a glossary defining the repeatedly used, lesser-known words, like opioids and mitochondria, as well as the dozens of acronyms used in the diet and nutrition fields. Ironically, an ex-vegan has made an impressively convincing case for how to sustainably eat meat, with the well-being of the animal in mind.
An enthusiastic, compelling, exhaustively researched argument from an unlikely source.
-Kirkus Indie Review
From the Back Cover
This is one of the very best I have read on the subject, and I will recommend it highly to all who are instructed in superior health. --Dr. Stanley S. Bass, ND, DC, PhC, PhD, DO, DSc, DD
I believe this is a very timely and important book, and commend Susan for her courage in bearding the lion in his den, as she confronts the issues involved in vegetarianism/veganism versus omnivorism. And yes, many seem to be, and are, successful in their vegetarianism/veganism. On the other hand, there are many who are not. This book gives credence and validity to those who are not. --Dr. John Fielder, hygienic doctor, Australia
This book is like a brainstorm on the topic of diet. I applaud Susan's courage for boldly opening up this controversial discussion, as it is the only way to find the truth. --Victoria Boutenko, raw diet author of Green for Life, 12 Steps to Raw Foods, and Green Smoothie Revolution
I especially admire how this author readily admits how her former judgmental attitude towards people who continued to eat animal products has rebounded on her. And while she is now eating meat and other animal-based products, she has not wavered in her conviction in the importance of consuming mainly raw foods and lots of vegetables as the healthiest lifestyle. --LindaJoy Rose, PhD, author of Raw Fusion: Better Living Through Living Foods (volumes I & II)
I'm a smart guy. I know how to do research. But I still spent a lifetime struggling through the confusing maze of nutritional data to find a comfortable, healthy, ethical way to eat. This book could have saved me 30 years of pain if I found it as a teenager... Get it, read it, use it! --Glenn Livingston, PhD
After being on a 100% raw vegan diet for 15 years, I have come to the conclusion that it is not the ideal diet I once thought it was. I'm so thrilled a book is finally written on this topic. Thank you, Susan, for letting people know the real deal about healthy eating. I pray people can have an open mind and heart to understand why this information needs to be told. --Paul Nison, author of numerous raw food diet and health books
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Top Customer Reviews
* 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
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.
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Suffice it to say---
-Susan has done her research, I have read a few other books on...Read more