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Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health Paperback – June 28, 2011
A Guide to Collecting Cookbooks
Humble cookbooks have become highly desirable in the book collecting world. Learn more on AbeBooks.com.
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—Carolyn Scott-Hamilton, in VegNews
“[A]n invaluable reference for anyone who still doesn’t believe that the Standard American Diet (SAD) is in fact the cause for a majority of our personal, global and moral devastation. Highly recommended.”
—This Dish is Veg
About the Author
Gene Stone is a writer, journalist, and former Peace Corps volunteer. He is the co-author, most recently, of The New York Times bestseller, The Engine 2 Diet, and his articles and columns have appeared in New York, Esquire, Vogue, Elle, GQ, and The Huffington Post. He lives in New York City and is a vegan (secret #17). His website is www.secretsofpeople.com.
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Top customer reviews
It provides concise explanations of why a whole-foods, plant-based diet is healthiest for people, the planet, and the animals, and
It offers a wide range of amazing recipes to help people get started.
The editor pairs these tasks to perform one goal: to help people live healthier lives through their food choices.
The book does this in three parts: (i) why a plant-based diet is best for your health, the planet, and the animals (37 pages); (ii) basic facts on plant-based foods (19 pages), and (iii) recipes (133 pages). While the bulk of the book is for recipes, there is a lot of powerful information in the first two parts that has appeal for anyone from the newcomer to the most informed, with topics as diverse as the environmental impact of food choices to nutrition labels. Even after having read literally dozens of books on plant-based foods and having finished Campbell's eCornell course in plant-based nutrition, I became more informed after reading the first two parts. The third part is filled with tempting recipes from some of the top plant-based chefs who refuse to compromise on health to sell meals.
The writing style is, for lack of a better word, "comfortable". You can almost imagine yourself having a casual discussion with 11 experts on healthy eating, with insights that would surprise your general practitioner, but with language suitable for the layperson.
My only qualms with the book are with the image quality of the graphs and people, which are technically disappointing, although still discernable, and with the arrangement of the bios, which seems out of order with their contributions.
As a result of the dual tasks, some of the Amazon reviewers were negative. I've summarized them here, along with some counterpoints:
Claim: The educational part of the book was too concise and contained bios
If you are interested only in Dr. Esselstyn's work, try Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure. For more on Campbell's work, turn to The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, And Long-term Health. For the impact of our food choices on the environment or animals, there are hundreds of books that describe the effects in chilling detail. This book is not the most comprehensive, authoritative guide on any one of those subjects, but it is a very readable and compelling guide on what is arguably the most important topic for most readers: healthy eating. And it holds something for every nutritionist I've ever met, as well as for the overweight Wal-Mart shopper whose cart is filled with chips and soda, or laboratory-manufactured foods from aisle 17. I have yet to find a book that does a better job of balancing the tasks of enlightening readers and facilitating changes in diet.
The book does offer bios on the people who are trying to help us live more healthy lives. At first, I thought that this was a bit too much of a stretch for an already ambitious book...if I read a book on yoga, I'm not necessarily interested in the backgrounds of the leading proponents of yoga. But here I think the bios are justified because they offer a much needed perspective. The bio on T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., explains how he grew up on a dairy farm and was preparing to continue working with animal-based foods, how he discovered that animal protein was a problem rather than a solution to health woes, and then how certain factions in the food industry tried to smear him to stop him from sharing his findings. Dr. Neal Barnard found that the ribs on his cafeteria tray looked and smelled eerily similar to the ribs he had just examined from a human cadaver, which led him to think differently about food. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn tells of how he saved cardiovascular patients who had been told to "go home and prepare for death". I know of dozens of people with cardiovascular problems and one person who was also told to give up hope, so this latter bio may serve as a wakeup call where all else has failed. Collectively, these bios show how the leaders in the field came to the same conclusions from different perspectives, in spite of the traditional food and health industry pressures and tactics.
Claim: The book offered nothing that couldn't be found on the Internet.
I've been a student of plant-based nutrition for 10 years and I've read everything I can on the topic, yet I found pieces here I'd never seen before: Bios that contain insights obviously drawn out from first-hand interviews with the subjects; success stories from people who chose to adopt this healthier approach to eating; a very concise and thoughtful summary which compares whole, plant-based foods to animal products (styled like black box warning labels for food), and some great recipes from leading chefs.
Claim: The book contained no bibliography and few footnotes.
This comment, especially when juxtaposed with the above comment, shows the difficulty in pairing disparate tasks: it's impossible to please everyone. If everything could be found on the Internet, why would someone need a bibliography and dozens of footnotes? Actually, there is a bibliography--called a "bookshelf" on page 199, as well as a list of online references on page 198. There are few footnotes, which will disappoint the purist, but this is a guide, not the definitive source on every topic covered.
Now, a comment on some of the "reviews": A review should summarize the content, offer a critical assessment (e.g., Was it noteworthy? Understandable? Persuasive?), and an argument as to why prospective readers might or might not enjoy the book. Some of the comments for this book are simply mean-spirited attacks on a book that aims to inform, persuade and help those who want to live longer, healthier lives in making better food choices--all for the low price of $6.40, or less than one-tenth the cost of a doctor's visit, where the topic of whole, plant-based foods will likely never come up. Such attacks are to be expected when someone challenges long-held, but unjustifiable beliefs with extensive clinical and epidemiological evidence. Still, more thoughtful reviews would benefit Amazon customers.
No, this book doesn't have a lot of pictures. You really have to imagine what your dish will be like as you read through the ingredients and directions before you make it. Some recipes surprised me and were really good.
Since I'm not all vegan and still eat meat. I added some ground meat to a few recipes like a lasagna and Mexican-style casserole and chicken to some pasta dishes. It came out wonderful and my hubby liked them even more!