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PostPosted: Fri Jul 29, 2011 10:42 am
by runrevolt
Disclaimer: I contributed a very, very, VERY tiny piece to this book (nothing more than a meal I like to eat at home for the "What vegans eat" section).

Highly respected vegan dieticians Ginny Messina and Jack Norris just released their book Vegan For Life - "Everything you need to know to be healthy and fit on a plant-based diet".

The book itself is aimed at people who want to go vegan for sure, but the nutritional information is so grounded, well-researched and based on legitimate science/studies that it has a wealth of information for vegans of all experience levels. They do an amazing job of both addressing the absurdities leveled against veganism (where do you get your protein), but also address all the nutritional myths propagated within the vegan culture (you don't need to supplement for B12, etc.) and they do it with inarguable nutritional studies and evidence.

The book is part primer, part food nerd talk and part inspiration, but all worth it.

Most importantly, the basis for the book is going vegan on an ethical basis and positively affecting the lives of animals. The nutrition information is for your own good, but mainly so that you and others will have the knowledge to go and STAY vegan for the animals.

Definitely pick this book up if you find it. ... 0738214930


PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2011 8:05 am
by baldy
Just preordered it, love the stuff from Jack Norris.


PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2011 10:58 am
by offense74
I just like to say that there are different viewpoints on planet-based nutrition and Norris and Messina is popular on the grounds of them being animal rightists. I am too but that's not good place to start if you want to learn about nutrition. I will most likely read this book although I've seen them both make some pretty weird (but scientifically based) conclusions.
As said both of them are animal rightist and have no or very little part in the revolution that is now imminent in plant-based nutrition as a way to control or eliminate chronic diseases, instead they focus on exactly what the people within that movement are objecting to, namely scientific reductionism in combination with the (not so) sound recommendations from the FDA and USDA concerning nutrition.

The school of thought that is going to be huge in the years to come will be the whole foods plant based diet to reverse and stop chronic diseases (e.g heart disease, many autoimmune diseases, etc). This approach is heavily based on science but from a more epidemiologic, non-reductionist viewpoint. The statement they're making is that you eat whole plants and supplement with B12 (and possibly D and less possibly omega-3) you will be as healthy as you can be. They don't go for minor details like different thresholds for vitamins, protein, etc, since this doesn't seem to be a problem for the large masses of people on these diets in parts of the world where this, for various reason, is the day to day diet. The results on chronic disease with this approach is staggering. The people in the front in this revolution is people like T. Colin Campbell (The China Study), Caldwell Esselstyn JR (Prevent and reverse heart disease), Jeff Novick RD, John McDougall MD and many, many others. I would like to see vegans knowing about this, even if we for various reasons choose not to follow it. It will grow and it is not a FAD since it is heavily based on science.

Norris and Messina are pretty lonely at the other end in that they give advice to vegans who choose to eat like most people, just the vegan version of it. As we see the results of the whole food plant based diet above I can't really see the point in this and to me this just cases confusion in the same manner that it does to people who eat the omni version of this crap. Nutritionists, dietitians, personal trainers, mainstream media and others in many ways just confuses people as is apparent when people ask vegans questions (where do you get your protein, calcium, etc).
Norris and Messina are very popular at this board but I believe it to be on the grounds of animal rights, not necessarily rational thought. If your choice is to eat the vegan version of crap then Messina and Norris will help to try to micro-manage different aspects of your diet. The problem is what we don't know, which is an important question to ask if one believes in the scientific method. Our knowledge of all the substances in our diet and how it interacts with our biochemical system within our body is severely limited and this is why the reductionist, micro-management method is lacking. It might help to try and micro-manage with the advice of these two but I wouldn't count on it.

Just my 2c.


PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2011 11:08 am
by xrodolfox
I just read that above, but I don't really get what you mean. I am not well-versed in nutritional debates. I'd love to hear more.

In the meantime, I like runrevolt's recommendations so far, and if he's in a book, I'm buying it.

My biggest question is: how can I get it signed. :)


PostPosted: Mon Aug 01, 2011 7:49 pm
by runrevolt
I must say, I'm a little confused about this critique as well, but I'm compelled to respond to a few of your statements.

It is true that Norris and Messina are "animal rightists", and USUALLY that is not a good place to start if you want to learn about nutrition, as the better alternative is to learn from individuals who have studied and become certified in nutrition, like a Registered Dietician.....which both Norris and Messina are. I would distrust them much more if they were just some yahoos, even well-meaning yahoos, spouting off recycled, second-hand nutritional/dietary advice (like I do!), but that just isn't the case. As a matter of fact, Messina was eating animals and actually certified as a registered dietician BEFORE she was an animal rightist and only after gaining her credibility did she come to the awareness of animal suffering and change her habits and perspectives.

I find it odd that you say they have "little part" in the "revolution" that is now imminent in plant-based nutrition based on eliminating or controlling chronic diseases. Chapter 12 (Plant Food Advantages: Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet) and Chapter 13 (Managing Weight, Heart Disease, and Diabetes), as their titles convey, address these specifically. Are they saying "EAT ONLY WHOLE FOODS! EAT NO OILS WHATSOEVER!" No, they aren't, because they are being much more pragmatic about transitioning others to a vegan diet and positing veganism as a realistic and simple way to eat and be healthy. Plus, they also recognize that you CAN eat processed foods and you CAN eat oils and still be quite healthy and disease-free. There is no reason to be so absolute in this approach to eating and this is precisely why I respect them much more than the new spokespeople for plant-based diets who are so adamant about NEVER eating anything, but whole foods. Just because they aren't screaming PURITY from the rooftops doesn't mean they are quacks or not part of a push towards social change in relation to our ways of eating, precisely the opposite if you ask me.

It is also untrue that they are in lockstep, so to speak, with the FDA and USDA since they make critiques on some of the inadequacies of both agencies current and past dietary recommendations. Do they throw out the baby with the bath water? No, because they shouldn't....the FDA and USDA may be cozy partners with mega-corporations, but that doesn't mean everything they say is dripping with lies.

I'm a bit confused on your statements regarding vitamin thresholds, regardless, Messina and Norris aren't saying "don't eat whole foods", but they are saying that eating some processed foods can be incorporated into a well-planned diet in ways that do not promote disease and make eating vegan practical and sustainable. Just because they don't call for an absolute rejection of all processed foods doesn't mean they are telling people to subsist on tofurkey and twizzlers (oh, but if only we could!!!). What they are telling people is to eat nutritionally-dense, varied, whole foods that don't contribute to the suffering of animals while also supplementing for hard to obtain nutrients (both vegans and omnivores) when necessary.....and if that means eating some processed foods in order to get those nutrients, then go right ahead. Hell, I know I do! Find me an adult with a family, full-time job and athlete that can eat ONLY whole foods without fail, then we'll talk.

It's completley untrue that Norris and Messina "give advice to vegans who choose to eat like most people, just the vegan version of it". Actually, part of that statement IS true. They do "give advice" to these types of people because they are trying to educate them to EAT BETTER, which is to say eat a more varied diet of mainly whole foods that will supply them with all the nutrients they need to live active and healthy. It seems like you implied they were trying to convince people to keep eating like crap, but supplement to make up for it. That simply is not the case and I think you will discover that if you actually read the book. Further, Vegan For Life is, it seems, aimed more at getting people to TRANSITION to a vegan diet, so to get MORE NEW VEGANS and so they do play more to the "standard american diet", but from how I read it, only to move it away towards a "new vegan diet" (sorry, no clever acronym to go with that one). I hardly see how this is detrimental to anyone's health, unless you truly believe that any ingestion of processed foods will cause immediate diabetes.

Ultimately, I'm most attracted to their advice because it is grounded in nutritional science, epidemiological research (and not reductionist as you seem to think) and is motivated by creating better diets for more convincing advocacy.

Anyways, I'd be more interested in hearing your perspective after you read the book.


PostPosted: Tue Aug 02, 2011 11:26 am
by offense74
The problem I have with this is not that they give bad advice, it's just that there are a myriad of nutritionists that give better advice, many of them completely for free. I've read more than a dozen of these books and have also seen most of them speak Vegetarian Soiciety of Hawaii is one place where you can start if you're interested.
Why would you choose to listen to, as you yourself say, mediocre advice (have some junk food, eat oil, etc.) when you can actually take advice that would be optimum (eat whole plants)? You can of course stray from this path and indulge and the people I'm talking about have nothing against that (as long as you don't have immediate heart disease) but still why would you choose to read this book over books that give you the whole story?
The reason, I believe, is because they are both outspoken about the animal rights perspective. Many, if not most of the people I would recommend are also animal rightists (Brenda Davies, Jeff Novick, John Robbins, Neal Barnard, etc) or sympathizes with the cause but do not publicly talk about it because it's not their main objective.

This to me is like buying a book about training that devotes time to describing how to most properly sit your ass on a couch while watching TV. I don't have anything in particular against such advice, I just don't want it in the book about training that I just bought and would rather buy a book that is just about training.

Let me also explain what I meant about the different approaches.
We have for a long time seen evidence that seems to say that eating more whole plants is beneficial for your health. We have had indications that it reduces the risk of heart disease, some common cancers (breast, prostate, colon), some auto immune disease (MS, asthma, alzheimer's) and obesity. This observation mostly comes from what is called epidemiological studies which is when you follow a large group of people over a long period of time to get connections between, for example what they eat and how it affects their general health. Nurses health study, Framingham heart study, The China Study and Okinawa Centenarian study are a few examples of studies like this. The problem with these studies is that they they don't provide causality but only correlation and sometimes only loosely so. If you have a population of people in a remote part of the world that live on banana leaves and sweet potatoes that never gets heart disease it's hard to make the diet the cause of this. It might be that they take afternoon strolls or pisses more often than the average German. It might also be that if Germans just started to eat banana leaves once a day it would cure their heart disease. These complicated questions is why you have people dissing these results, for good reason. However, this doesn't mean that the results are pointless as some would argue, you just have to do more studies. When it comes to the connection between whole plant foods and the chronic diseases the other options (like taking strolls in the afternoon or a lower incident of telephone poles) have been pretty much exhausted, according to many. There have even been a few studies that have taken people with heart disease and only changed the way they eat and it stopped and even reversed the disease. Same thing with diabetes-2 and MS. There have also been (at least) test on prostate cancer with similar result (I would like to add though that cancer is a more complicated issue than heart disease, before people get all jumpy). Still, this doesn't prove that there is a causation between these two, just that it seems likely that there are a correlation.
The correlation, according to some of the people I would recommend listening to, is so strong that the diet is actually the cause of many of the chronic diseases that befalls us and the cure is a whole foods plant based (vegan) diet.
This approach is what I called non-reductionist because it doesn't really care why this happens, just that it does. It might be fibre, antioxidants, phytochemicals or whatever else in the plants or it might be the reduction in cholesterol, saturated fat, total fat or sulfur containing amino acids that is the cause. The fuck I do not give about this is immense. It works.

The other road to travel is by causation. Instead of not giving a fuck about the biochemical reactions in the body, this becomes central. If you have inflammation you see that omega-3 reduces it. If we can in turn figure out why then we can make a pill so that you can fix the problem of too much inflammation. One reason this approach is popular is because it sometimes produces pills. The problem with it are what we don't know. Say, for example, that beta-carotene enhances the production of a particular enzyme (a type of protein) in a particular cell and people that have asthma produces too little of this enzyme and we know that this enzyme is involved in the occurrence of asthma attacks. We can now recommend that people with asthma supplements with beta-carotene to get their values up. One question that now have to be asked is how much we don't know about this issue. Why is there an underproduction of this enzyme? How many other biochemical reactions is beta-carotene involved in and how will they be effected? Out of a whole "objective" picture/truth about this we might know 95% but we might also just know 3%. We don't know. This, however, haven't stopped us from making decisions based on this information. This is why almost all supplements in large scale have been shown to have negative side effects even though they seemed promising at first.

As I see it, both of these approaches are useful if you understand their limitations. Norris and Messina, from my experience, is more with the second category than the first, i.e. to try to micro-manage your bad diet with supplements. Since we know too little we are basically wrong all the time, which time has told us all the time since these recommendations change all the time. One problem with this is of course that having a fancy title doesn't really help. If you go to school and you delve in a problem that we only know 3% about and you go out giving advice from your knowledge it might be good but it might also be outright dangerous. The dietary advice given to diabetics and heart patients from normal MDs and RDs is not curing the disease although it is curable, for example.

Sorry for the long post :D


PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2011 2:27 pm
by baldy
My copy just arrived today, skipped through and read the chapter on Sport Nutrition.
Seems very solid basic advice nothing too in depth. Even includes a sample days menu for a 180 pound weight lifter which I think is pretty cool.


PostPosted: Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:37 pm
by greenspan
Hi, I have another easy (and quite cheap) way to get this book. I just asked a book search service to find it in the libraries around Liverpool. They sent me back two citations and then it was just a 20 minute bus ride to put my hands on a copy of "Everything You Need to Know to Be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet". And it was worth every minute I spent on it. Ask the boys from to find it in your area as well.