Monday, October 17, 2011

Book Review: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition

Eating a plant-based diet is truly easier than ever.  With cookbooks galore, YouTube videos, and online support, everything is right at your fingertips.  But, that doesn't mean it is isn't confusing.  And, with the abundance of vegan treats and convenience foods now available, it certainly isn't always healthy.

Julieanna Hever is on a mission to bring simplicity and sensibility back to plant-based eating with her new book The Complete Idiot's Guide To Plant-Based Nutrition.  Julieanna, known as "The Plant-Based Dietitian", is a registered dietitian and also a personal trainer.  She is also the co-author of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Gluten-Free Vegan Cooking, the nutrition columnist for VegNews, and has just released her new dvd - To Your Health - featuring Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Neal Barnard, and other experts.  (I'm impatiently waiting my copy from amazon, but here's the trailer.)

In her book, Julieanna breaks down plant-based eating, plain and simple, as it should be!  Eat a whole-foods plant-based diet and you're going to look and feel pretty darn good!  But, we know there are numerous misperceptions and misunderstandings to eating a vegan diet, and The Complete Idiot's Guide To Plant-Based Nutrition clears the confusion.

This book is easy to read, and broken into four parts: The Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet; Living a Plant-Based Diet; Special Considerations; and The Plant-Based Recipe Box.  Noteworthy sections include "You Are What You Eat (Not What You Don't)", which delves into supernutrients and antinutrients, and also "Controversy Clarified", which covers highly debated topics of dairy and soy consumption, and the raw diet.  Just about every aspect of eating plant-based is covered in this book, and I especially enjoyed the addition of Julieanna's notes, with icons liked "mixed greens" denoting interesting tidbits and "plant pitfalls" where dietary cautions should be noted with plant-based foods.

As an "Idiot's Guide", you may think this book is aimed at beginner vegans.  While it's certainly an excellent resource for new vegans, I think this book is also very important for seasoned vegans.  It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of vegan food trends and forget the roots of proper plant-based foods.  Over my years of eating vegan, I've seen vegan shift from being a hippy fringe diet, to one where there are countless substitute foods and treats.  These foods might be cruelty-free, but some are not very healthy.  If you moved into eating vegan by way of food substitutes for meat, cheese, and other products, you may find your dietary plan now needs some retuning.  Of course we can all enjoy some convenience foods here and there, but if the majority of your foods are in whole plant-based form, that's where your health and vitality will be optimized.

Julieanna Hever, M.S., R.D., C.P.T
The other thing that makes this book special, in my opinion, is its 'friendly factor'.  The notion of vegan can be intimidating for many, and the diet can seem complex.  Julieanna's voice is welcoming and approachable, and because she focuses on whole-foods, she shows that there is nothing mysterious about eating a plant-based diet.  It's the basics, folks!  Whole-grains and whole-grain products, vegetables and leafy greens, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds.  This is the foundation of a plant-based diet, and this is the foundation for healthy, vibrant living.

I've gotten to know Julieanna a little over the last few months, and I can tell you that she is passionate about her work, and even more enthusiastic and friendly than the book itself. "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food".  Wise words from Hippocrates put into practice by Julieanna Hever.


Anne said...

Thanks Dreena, it's being delivered to my kindle right now!
It's been fun to have the impressive dessert recipes to wow friends and family, but you're right, these shouldn't be the basis of our diet. I guess I'll save those for special occasions!

James Hoffmann said...

Great review! The book looks very interesting.


Hannah said...

Really appreciate the thoughtful review! I'm a big fan of Julieanna's work but haven't yet picked up this book. Clearly, I should!

Chef E said...

You sold me! a great book for my almost-vegan friends! thx!

urban vegan said...

The book sounds great. And Julieanna is gorgeous and glows, as are/do you...showing that a vegan diet is a healthy one.