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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise

Vegetarian Books

Each issue the VIP birds endeavor to soar to the highest literary peak to peck out the most unique, informative, and accomplished book or books that contribute to vegetarian enlightenment.

This month we review two books that occupy significant positions on the vegan landscape. WHOLE critiques reductionist nutrition in the present health care system and explains the merits of a WFPB. Raw Food for Dummies is the Rolls Royce of how-to instruction manuals for teaching everyone the techniques of preparing foods for a healthy raw vegan lifestyle.

Click here for a review of Raw Food for Dummies

WHOLE: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition

By T. Colin Campbell, PhD with Howard Jacobson, PhD

BenBella Books, 2013
Hardcover, $26.95

T. Colin Campbell may be the most dangerous man in the world. Mention his name in the boardroom of a giant pharmaceutical and the response might be a grimace. His name in the central office of a giant food conglomerate might invite a few sneers and unprintable comments. Supplement manufacturers might also recoil at the mention of his name.

Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition Why is Campbell such a problem? He is a strong advocate of the Whole Food, Plant Based (WFPB) lifestyle. Following a WFPB lifestyle, a person may not need costly medical procedures, expensive drugs, or supplements. All of these palliatives are part of our disease-care system that we mistakenly think is a health care apparatus.

Much of WHOLE focuses on Campbell's disdain for reductionism and his high regard for wholism. "If you are a reductionist, you believe that everything in the world can be understood if you understand all its component parts. A wholist, on the other hand, believes that the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts," he writes. He stresses this distinction throughout the book when he focuses on human health and nutrition.

Essentially, there is much more wealth to be gained by researchers, doctors, food companies, supplement manufacturers, and pharmaceutical firms by following the reductionist path. There isn't much financial gain in urging people to follow a WFPB regimen, but a blockbuster drug or a complex medical procedure guarantees wealth. Even the media (radio, television, newspapers) wither under Campbell's examination as they trumpet the latest pill that will solve a medical problem caused by poor nutrition.

A nutrition researcher for over 40 years, Campbell says that there is little or no funding for wholistic nutrition research because this approach might be harmful to the companies that fund the studies. Big Pharma and Big Food conglomerates don't want WFPB. They favor reductionist studies that are non-threatening to them, studies that result in pills to treat diseases caused by poor diet.

Campbell also draws the ire of the meat and dairy industries with the explosive results of his research. In this book, as he did in the The China Study, he repeats his heretical statements that threaten current research and medical beliefs:

  • "We've discovered that cow's milk protein at reasonable levels of intake promotes experimental cancer growth, which is outside of the nutrition paradigm."
  • "We've discovered that experimental cancer growth can be turned on and off by altering practical levels of nutrient intake, and can be treated by nutritional means, which is outside the cancer treatment paradigm."
  • "We observed that these effects are driven by multiple mechanisms acting in concert, which is outside of the medical paradigm."
  • "We've found that cancer growth is controlled far more by nutrition than by genes, which is outside of the scientific paradigm."
  • "We've shown that nutrient composition of foods is more a determinant of cancer occurrence than chemical carcinogens, which is outside of the cancer-testing and regulatory agency paradigms."
  • "We've found that saturated fat (and, for that matter, total fat and cholesterol) is not the chief cause of heart disease (there's animal-based proteins as well), which is outside of the cardiology paradigm."

T. Colin Campbell He admits that he is somewhat of heretic who might have been subjected to house arrest or burned at the stake in past centuries for his views based on his research.

United States government agencies come in for criticism for the reductionist research they fund and the health misinformation (influenced by lobbyists) that they distribute.

Organizations like the American Cancer Society, MS Society, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics receive big money from the food and pharmaceutical industries that profit not from a cure, but from the sale of highly processed foods that contribute to disease.

Campbell concludes the book with important maxims he has learned over the years.

  1. We have a reverence for animal protein. "Our society believes so passionately in the health value of milk and meat that it is hard for us to conceive that we may be wrong--that these foods might, in fact, be very unhealthy."
  2. The reductionism paradigm leads us to focus on parts to the exclusion of the whole. "We see nutrition as a matter of individual nutrients rather than a comprehensive diet, and as an isolated field of study rather than the most influential determinant of our health as a whole."
  3. The profit-oriented system discourages non-reductionist efforts. "And so long as industry is a driving force in determining what research questions get asked, what studies get funded, and what results are published and publicized and turned into official policy, breaking out of the reductionist paradigm will be an uphill battle."

The author notes that he worked for years to bring changes from the top down, but admits he failed because of powerful forces allied against change. The change will come from the bottom up with each person changing the way he/she eats.

"The diet is simple: eat whole, plant-based foods, with little or no added oil, salt, or refined carbohydrates like sugar or white flour."

Campbell's enemies might describe him as a dissident, an outlier, an iconclast, but his message is loud and clear--we can't let big money dominate and affect our nutrition and health. WHOLE is an important work that might turn out to be a 21st Century landmark. It is the product of a truth-seeking scientist who has spent more than 40 years in laboratories and made discoveries that many people are reluctant to accept. His passion for WFPB nutrition as a significant part of health care instead of disease management should be the road taken. The first step for anyone who wants to be on that road to good nutrition and health is to read WHOLE.

Raw Food for Dummies

By Cherie Soria and Dan Ladermann

John Wiley & Sons, 2013
Paperback, $19.99

Raw chef Cherie Soria is THE graceful guru of the raw world, teaching others how to enhance their lives with raw and living foods. Studying with the famed Ann Wigmore sparked her 20-year teaching career and led to her found Living Light Culinary Institute in 1998 in Fort Bragg along the Mendocino coast in Northern California.

Joined by husband Dan Ladermann, Certified Hippocrates Health Educator and president of the Institute for Vibrant Living, Cherie trains individuals and chefs from all parts of the globe in the art of preparing raw and living foods at their Fort Bragg location that also houses their café, marketplace, and an inn. They also travel extensively to spread their message about the benefits of living a raw foods lifestyle.

Aware that foods must appeal to the senses, especially taste, Cherie and Dan introduce newcomers to raw foods that are eye appealing and so flavorful. The authors note that not all foods can be eaten raw. Potatoes, for example, are too starchy, and rice needs to be cooked. Soaking and sprouting make other grains and legumes completely edible.

Raw Food for Dummies With their ultra-friendly writing style, the authors take readers on a self-guided tour into the world of raw food to cover all aspects, from shopping and preparing to social challenges that people may encounter.

Using organic ingredients, freshly squeezed citrus juices, cold pressed or extra virgin oils, raw spices, and Himalayan crystal salt for its purity are suggestions they consider important. Five unique symbols are displayed to call attention to special advice or helpful suggestions.

Part I delves into the basics of raw food, helps newcomers understand what is or isn't considered raw, covers essential nutrients, offers guides on setting up the kitchen with the needed tools and appliances, and emphasizes that raw food is a lifestyle, not a fad diet.

This book escorts the beginner through techniques for marinating vegetables, growing sprouts and young greens, fermenting foods, and making nut cheeses. Little-known techniques for developing cooked textures and thickening raw foods are invaluable kitchen secrets rarely presented in other raw books.

The authors begin the recipe section with easy foods like smoothies, soups, and salads, and then, move on to making foods taste exceptional with condiments, sauces, and healthy snacks. Pine Nut Parmesan Cheese, Almond Cheese, and Cashew Sesame Tofu are a smattering of the recipes in this chapter.

Those who puzzle about what to make for breakfast will appreciate nourishing creations like Cinnamon Oatmeal, Date and Walnut Wheat-Berry Scones, or Tropical Fruit Ambrosia. For appetizers, nothing beats a revved-up dip like Sweet Red Pepper and Zucchini Hummus or Asian Fusion Salad Rolls made with coconut or rice wrappers stuffed with vegetables, tofu, and tasty herbs. Perhaps the Thai-Style Spinach Tacos will appeal with their typical sweet, sour, and salty seasonings.

Cherie Soria The chapter on soups and salads features recipes for Sauerkraut, Great Greek Olives, and Pickled Red Onions. But Chef Cherrie takes her students beyond salad with concoctions featuring whole grains like wild rice or corn to make Holiday Wild Rice Pilaf or Corn Cakes.

Sandwiches may seem like an impossible idea with raw foods, but not for this pair of innovative chefs. Featured are a Beefy Barbecued Sandwich or Vegan Bay Crab Cakes that spend a few hours in the dehydrator. Some of the extra special entrees spotlight Linguini with White Truffle Cream or Root-Vegetable Raw-violi with Basil Pesto on Tomato Concassé.

For those with a bent for sweet treats, the best part of a cookbook is the dessert section. No disappointment here with exceptional temptations like Apple Baklava featuring sliced fresh apples in place of filo dough. Sweet lovers will also be able to prepare ice creams, cookies, confections, truffles, brownies, and an outrageous recipe for Coconut-Macadamia Rawcaroons.

There's plenty of advice on living the raw lifestyle, planning menus, making foods attractive, creating themed celebrations, eating raw when traveling, ordering in non raw restaurants, being prepared with advance prep, and enjoying and socializing with others in the raw community.

Though there are no color photos in the book, readers will chuckle at the amusing hand-drawn veggie-oriented cartoons and appreciate the numerous hand-drawn illustrations to demonstrate helpful cutting, preparation, or assembly techniques.

What makes Raw Food for Dummies stand apart from other raw food cookbooks is the extensive and dedicated attention given to detail from raw food nutrition to purchasing and using kitchen equipment to the actual food preparation techniques. Many years of teaching experience have helped Cherie and Dan share their knowledge in a way that makes it easy for anyone to learn. With this awesome book as a guide, no experience is needed to be completely successful preparing delicious raw meals and living the raw life in a vibrant and healthful way.

Click here for past book reviews

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