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Vegan for Life: Everything You Need to Know to Be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet Paperback – July 12, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 115 customer reviews

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The Book of Veganish: The Ultimate Guide to Easing into a Plant-Based, Cruelty-Free, Awesomely Delicious Way to Eat, with 70 Easy Recipes Anyone can Make by Kathy Freston
"The Book of Veganish" by Kathy Freston
A toolbox of resources, recipes, and insights to help socially aware teens and young adults interested in adopting a vegan lifestyle ease into a plant-based, cruelty-free, awesomely delicious way of eating. Learn more
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Editorial Reviews


Publishers Weekly, 5/30/11
“Armed with this compendium and a vegan cookbook, novices will make an easy, healthy transition to meat, egg and dairy-free meals, while practicing vegans can use it as a guide to the best food choices.”

Curled Up With a Good Book
“Whether you’ve been enjoying a plant-based diet for years or are just starting on the adventure, Norris and Messina will prove to be outstanding mentors. Even if you don’t plan to eliminate meat and animal products completely, there’s valuable information here about incorporating foods that help you fight disease, build the immune system, and feel better in general. Vegan for Life is one of those books that you’ll pull off the shelf for inspiration and consultation time after time.”
Reno Gazette-Journal, 7/13/11
“Simply amazing…Displaces Becoming Vegan as the definitive vegan nutrition book.”
JL Goes Vegan (blog),7/14/11
Vegan for Life is comprehensive in its use of research (and the authors explain how and why and which research they use) and it’s laid out so simply that me, a non-researcher, totally gets it… If you’re a new vegan, or a vegan who might be buying into the hype that a vegan diet is not sustainable, read this book. If you’re a vegan who wants a quick resource at your fingertips or the perfect book to hand over to your vegan-curious family member or friend read this book.”

Library Journal
, 7/15/11
“This book explains everything one needs to know about going vegan. Comprehensive and succinct, it is a must-have for nutritionists and anyone contemplating a vegan diet.”
AllVoices.com, 7/19/11
“Nutritionists Jack Norris, RD, and Virginia Messina, MPH, RD, fully explain what a vegan diet is, and how to avoid deficiencies of such important nutrients as protein, calcium, and iron. For those considering a vegan lifestyle but afraid that the diet won’t keep them healthy, Norris and Messina have the answers… The advice is easy to follow, and can result in a longer, healthier life.”

Bookviews, August 2011
“For those who, for whatever reason, intend to become vegans, this book will be helpful.”

InfoDad.com, 8/4/11
“An effective primer for those just starting to live as vegans and those interested in trying the vegan lifestyle but uncertain about its potential benefits.”

Tucson Citizen, 8/8/11
“Delicious nutrient-dense menus.”

Vegansaurus.com, 8/11/11
“Awesome…A common-sense guide to eating a healthy and varied plant-based diet…If you are vegan or vegetarian, you should get—and read!—Vegan for Life.”

NorthwestHerbivore.com, 8/13/11
“It’s a quick, easy, informative read.”
OurHenHouse.org, 8/15/11
“A densely-packed treasure chest of nutritional information for vegans and those who feed them.”
VegNews, September/October 2011
“Packed with science yet never boring, Norris and Messina—both long-time vegans themselves—put their wealth of knowledge at your fingertips while putting to rest any nutritional issues that concern those aspiring to a plant based-diet…No vegan myth goes unbusted…Vegan for Life is a complete reference guide that deserves a spot in your library or kitchen.”
Texas Kitchen (blog), 8/21/11
Vegan for Life is full of helpful charts that show specific nutrients found in numerous fruits, nuts and vegetables. I love how easy this makes it to be sure you are getting the proper nutrition in your Vegan lifestyle.”
Run Vegan (blog), 8/25/11
“A book that is both so encouraging and so incredibly necessary right now.”

Veggie Voyeur, 9/1/11
Vegan for Life makes going vegan doable. I would definitely recommend this book to vegans, the vegan-curious, and those living with vegan family members.”

Lone Star Plate, 9/9/11
“Beyond setting straight some outdated nutrition information, the book will put to rest most nutrition worries you might have.”

Cooking the Vegan Books, 8/13/11
“Whether you’re considering veganism or you’re an old hand, Vegan for Life is a book that you won’t want to be without.”

Midwest Book Review, September 2011
“Any general lending library catering to vegetarians needs this introductory guide.”

“Norris and Messina have the knowledge, understanding, and experience to tell it like it is about vegan diet. And they do...I'm telling you now! Read This Book!”

San Francisco Book Review, 10/3/11
“Clearly written and easy to understand, this book is a must for both long-term vegans and those just considering such a path.”

Vegetarian Journal, Vol. 30, Issue 4
“Jack Norris and Ginny Messina have produced a highly readable, information-packed book about vegan nutrition…I highly recommend Vegan for Life—for new vegans, established vegans, people curious about vegan diets…It’s essential reading!”

Taste for Life,
October issue
“With this resource, readers learn how to make the transition to a plant-based diet while still getting the nutrition they need.”

Green Vegan Living blog, 10/9/11
“I suggest you read this if you are already a vegan or are contemplating transitioning to a vegan diet. The information is too valuable to pass up.”

Going-Vegan.net, 10/9/11
“This book offers a great deal of information and practical suggestions for maintaining a healthy vegan diet.”

Vegan Things I Like (blog), 10/13/11
“It is just well researched, useful information that all vegans need to know to maintain good health and is written in an easy to understand way, filled with tables and great references.”

Quick & Easy magazine, October 2011
“Never before have I ever come across such an excellent, factual book…This book would be great for anyone. I think it would be wonderful for new vegans to start them on the right path. It would also be a great gift to any family members of a vegan who have questions (I know my mother did when I started). It should also be required reading for any longtime vegan, like myself, to make sure that you are getting the most of our diet…Get this book. Seriously… 5 Stars.”

VegKitchen.com, 11/10/11
“If you’re a new vegan, or a vegan who might be buying into the hype that a vegan diet is not sustainable, read this book.  If you’re a vegan who wants a quick resource at your fingertips or the perfect book to hand over to your vegan-curious family member or friend read this book.”

Vegan for the Win!, 10/28/11
“Jack and Virginia know their stuff.”

The Vegetarian, Winter 2011
“Registered dieticians and longtime vegans, Jack Norris and Virginia Messina, debunk some of the most persistent myths about vegan nutrition and provide essential information about getting enough calcium, protein and finding the best supplements…Vegan for Life is the guide for aspiring and veteran vegans alike, complete with an easy-to-use- food chart, tasty substitutes, sample menus and expansive resources.”

VegNews, 12/19/11
“One of the ten best vegan books of 2011…Vegan for Life is a book you will keep for life, and if you follow the advice of RDs Norris and Messina, chances are it will be a long one.”
Examiner.com, 12/23/11
“No matter what category you find yourself in, if you are looking for a soup-to-nuts template, bible, road-map, or crystal ball guide to the why’s and where-fore of veganism, then Vegan For Life is a must-read…Vegan for Life is one of the most thorough resources for all things vegan on the market…It covers everything about veganism, from Top Ten Myths about Vegan Diets to entire diet nutritional profiles, How to Meet Protein Needs, sample vegan food choice menus, and the importance of inter-relationships between various vitamins and minerals and the food combinations that elicit their greatest nutritional and dietary benefits…Because it leaves no stone unturned, Vegan for Life is an incredible resource that experienced vegan deacons or new vegans still using their vegan training wheels should keep close at hand, and share with vegan curious family and friends.”
Vegan.com, 1/1/12
“The most authoritative vegan nutrition book on the planet.”
FredericPatenaude.com, 12/28/11
“The nutritional information is top-notch…A must read for all vegans.”

“A very valuable guide to healthier living.”
Positively Vegan, 1/21/12
“A great book I think every vegan should have.”
Metapsychology Online Review, 2/7/12
“A great starting point for anyone who wants to become vegan, and an excellent reference even for people who have always followed a vegan diet.”
FoodCite (blog), 2/7/12
“I cannot speak highly enough about this book. It is well researched and well referenced.  It doesn’t make any claims without substantial scientific (ie. peer-reviewed publications) support and, best of all, it wasn’t too preachy about the whole animal thing.” 
Portland Book Review, 2/25/12
“If you’re an animal lover, this book may be helpful in helping you find a more compassionate way to eat.”

Complete Yoga (South Africa), April issue
“Required reading for those wishing to maximize their plant-based diets.”
Vegan Views (UK), Winter 2011/2012
“A welcome and timely addition to [vegan] literature…Vegan for Life provides reliable, evidence-based, common sense advice for anyone following or seeking to follow a vegan diet. The book is clear, concise and easy to read…[and] is both comprehensive and practical, with clearly-presented dietary advice, menu plans and nutrient tables.”
OurHenHouse.org, 4/19
“A must-have book.”
RejuvenateWithNutrition.com, 4/20/12
“A very comprehensive book…[with] a lot of detailed and interesting information on how to eat healthy while on a vegan diet.”
Today’s Dietitian, May 2012
“An interesting, easy-to-read, and extremely informative resource…Vegan for Life is a fantastic educational guide and resource for new or seasoned vegans alike. In addition, it’s a great resource for dieticians who wish to promote aspects of a plant based diet to clients, whether vegans or omnivores."

“An impressive primer on veganism for the vegan-curious and even those practicing. It takes a measured, scientific approach to the vegan lifestyle, thoroughly but clearly answering many questions beginners may have…Succinct and very accessible…A must-have for anyone looking to go veg.”

About the Author

Jack Norris, RD, is co-founder and president of Vegan Outreach. He lives in northern California.

Virginia Messina, MPH, RD, serves on the advisory board of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. She lives in Washington.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Lifelong Books; Original edition (July 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738214930
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738214931
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,999 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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.
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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.
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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!
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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.
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