One of the perks of having a successful blog is that you sometimes get the opportunity to review some interesting books. I recently had the opportunity to read Beyond Broccoli by Susan Schenck. As a food and nutrition writer I am always eager to expand my knowledge in these areas, so I welcomed the opportunity to review Schenck’s book. What I didn’t expect was how much of an impact it would have on my vegetarian wife.
Beyond Broccoli is written from Schenck’s perspective, that of a former raw food vegan. She explains how she felt compelled to write this book after her experience with following vegan principles. After years as a vegan, she saw her and other vegans’ health decline. Her goal is to educate people and alert them to the dangers of vegetarian and vegan eating.
I must admit, after reading the book’s introduction and learning why she wrote it, I jumped in with both feet. You see, my wife has been a vegetarian for almost eight years and no matter how much we talked about the benefits of Paleo eating, I could not persuade her to give up vegetarianism. I hoped that the book would give me some new tools to help my wife see the light. I’m glad to say that Beyond Broccoli didn’t let me down.
Schenck begins her book by discussing the vegetarian mystique and dispelling the common myths behind vegetarianism. She discusses these issues with the intelligence of someone who has lived the life. Unlike other publications I’ve read, hers doesn’t belittle either side of the vegetarianism debate. In fact, she says that a vegan diet can work for you if you are the right body type.
The meat of this book is not to bash vegetarianism; rather it explains why vegetarianism doesn’t work for the vast majority of people in the long run. Part two of her book discusses the evolution of the human diet where she embraces Paleo Diet principles and provides a good summary of the benefits of Paleo eating.
In part three, Schenck explains how the proper balance is needed between fats, carbohydrates, and proteins for effective health. She spends almost 80 pages of the book detailing how vegetarianism doesn’t create the proper balance of fats, carbs, and protein and how eating animal protein combined with a low carbohydrate diet will lead to better health and overall weight loss. Unlike in some other books I’ve read, Schenck backs her claims with relevant annotated references.
While reading the last section of the book, I couldn’t help but think that Schenck still felt some vegan pangs of guilt for endorsing meat. She discusses the morality and sustainability of meat eating. I have friends who are vegan and I have heard these views many times so maybe I shouldn’t be surprised to read this here.
Beyond Broccoli provided a unique insight for me, a former vegan who turned to meat. The book reinforced my beliefs that following Paleo Diet principles is the way to go. More importantly, it has given my vegetarian wife a new perspective. It’s one thing to hear it from me that she shouldn’t be a vegetarian but to hear it from a former member of her own tribe had her open her eyes. She has read half the book and claims that she is starting to have doubts about vegetarianism. If she is still vegetarian at the end of the book, I don’t think Schenck will be disappointed, because she accomplished her goal. One more vegetarian has been educated.