I’ve been a quiet blogger lately. Yesterday’s post on eating disorders was probably my first in a couple of months. It’s mostly because I’m in workaholic mode these days—lots going on in my personal life (nothing bad) and professional life (all good). The big thing that has me glued to the computer some 60-70 hours a week right now—and waking up at 3:00 a.m. to email myself ideas and reminders—is a book that is due to the publisher later this year. I’m excited about this book for a number of reasons, not the least is that it’s going to include recipes (and some additional content) from my friend and wonderful vegan activist JL Fields of JLGoesVegan and StopChasingSkinny fame.
This is a project that is requiring a ton of research and so I’m slogging through piles and piles of studies on diet and health. I’ve also been struggling to find my voice and message for this book. I want to be a cheerleader for veganism, but also want to be honest in how I represent the science. It would be fun if it sold well, too.
That’s all sort of a tricky combination to achieve. I peruse a lot of popular nutrition books and it seems like the key to success is to make extravagant claims, gloss over how complex the research is, and assure readers that you know the one and only diet to prevent all disease and ensure permanent (and easy!) weight loss.
On the other hand, there really are some great resources out there for vegans and vegetarians or anyone looking for solid advice on healthy eating. One that came across my desk recently is The Plant-Powered Diet by fellow RD Sharon Palmer. It’s a book that makes the scientific case for eating fewer animal products and more plant foods while admitting that there is no precise definition for “plant-based diet.” The information in the book is balanced, honest, and practical, and the recipes—which appear to all be vegan—look really nice. In the forward to the book, Dr. David Katz, of the Yale University Prevention Research Center says this about Sharon’s book: “So much of modern health advice is about marketing a particular perspective that such a balanced and moderate approach is a truly surprising and welcome departure.”
I agree, and it’s the thing that made this book stand out for me. Admittedly, I wish the book had included more perspective on making compassionate food choices. When animals are part of the discussion (and I think they should always be part of the discussion) a vegan diet is the one and only best way to eat. When the focus moves away from animals, then diet-related issues become somewhat less clear. So far, no one has proven that a vegan diet is healthier than other plant-based ways of eating, and it’s unlikely that they ever will. So, this isn’t a book I would use to promote veganism—it presents a vegan option, but not a vegan imperative—but, it is one I would use to promote healthy plant-based eating for those who are looking for that type of information.
Coming across this book inspired me to update my list of recommended resources. I’ve kept the focus mostly on books and websites aimed at vegans but I’ve also included Sharon’s book and other useful plant-based references that contain good information for vegans. As always, I’m super-picky about recommended resources. They have to come from people who understand that the scientific research is complex and that some types of studies provide stronger evidence than others. They have to be honest about both benefits and potential risks associated with vegan diets. And, happily, the list of resources that meet these criteria is getting longer.