Aug 242010

batgirl I picked up this book because I was intrigued by the title. The name Alicia Silverstone rang a bell, but I really didn’t remember who she was. One of my kids reminded me. “Batgirl” (in the “Batman and Robin” movie). Suddenly I was impressed. While Silverstone was pretty enough in that role, the girl on the cover of “The Kind Diet” was thinner and more radiantly pretty – so much so that I hadn’t recognized her. A good endorsement for any diet.

The diet is “Kind” because it’s vegan – kind to animals and kind to the earth. Actually, it’s three diets in one. She includes instructions and recipes for “flirting” (adding vegetarian and vegan alternatives to your diet), “vegan” when you eliminate animal products entirely, and “super-hero”, where you add more macrobiotic ideas and ingredients, such as more whole grains and sea vegetables. Obviously she hopes to entice you into eventually trying out “super-hero”, but has a lot of help for people who just want to make small improvements.

The book is beautifully done, and includes her personal story, and her well-written arguments against meat, dairy, processed foods, etc. There are also mini-bios of vegan “super-heroes” – athletes and activists who embrace vegan principles. Alicia herself is apparently quite well known as a vegan activist. I suppose I’m not well informed on vegan politics.

blog-alicia-silverstone The photography is very good, and the recipes look great. Some folks commented on Amazon that the ingredients were too exotic for them to find. This applies primarily to the “super-hero” recipes, where the macrobiotic principles call for a lot of Asian (especially Japanese) ingredients. People living anywhere near a metropolitan center or anywhere with a good Asian market should do fine. For all the aspiring trendy vegans in the Midwest, a number of the ingredients are available online. And the vegan and “flirting” sections use an ingredient list that is more familiar.

If you want an attractive introduction to vegetarian/veganism with explanations, recipes, and photos of  celebrities, this is the book you want to pick up. It performs the service of making a radically healthy diet seem normal and mainstream instead of fringe and quirky. Give it a try.

Dec 182009

chinastudyThe China Study – a book by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II – will help you understand like no other book the root cause of most of the chronic disease in America. To come straight to the point, that root cause is … eating too many animal products.

The book will be of great interest to vegetarians, vegans, and those who simply want to cut back on the meat and animal products in their diet. And if you are trying to adopt such a lifestyle and are getting opposition – this book is your best friend.

While there is a chapter devoted to incorporating this insight into your diet and lifestyle, what the book focuses on is the science. And it does it with a vengeance. The largest part of the book is devoted to the scientific evidence that diets high in animal products are responsible for heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, auto-immune diseases, and a host of other chronic maladies.

Exhibit ‘A’ in the book is the “China Study” of the title. This study – the largest of its kind by far – compared the health people in China who had very similar genetic and environmental backgrounds, but who differed in diet. Some had adopted a more western, animal-based diet and some had retained the traditional Chinese diet – mostly plant based. The differences in health were remarkable, particularly because in the homogeneous culture of China, genetic and other factors were more easily ruled out.

The data from this study was combined with cross-cultural studies and hundreds of other papers and research efforts to paint a total picture that is completely convincing. I found myself not only educated – but angry. So many of the problems both I and my family have suffered with simply don’t exist in cultures that feature a more plant-based diet.

The latter part of the book is even more eye-opening. Dr. Campbell narrates his view of the history of government and medical policy on eating. As a part of several important committees and groups, Dr. Campbell was in a front-row position to see them hijacked again and again by the food and drug industry. I am left with a rather low opinion of both organized medicine and government-sponsored “expertise” .

If you want powerful evidence to convince yourself or someone else that a plant-centered diet is a healthier way to live, this is the book for you.

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