This book review was first published in the Funky Raw magazine issue 23.
The author, Susan Schenck, was a raw vegan for 6 years and even wrote a book The Live Food Factor about the raw vegan diet, but over time she realised that the diet wasn’t working for her. A lot of research led to Susan writing Beyond Broccoli, which explains the reasons for what seems to be a common problem – people try raw veganism and feel wonderful for the first few years, before nutritional deficiencies start to show up.
For me, the fact that Susan was a vegan, and really wanted to make the vegan diet work for her is important. I feel this mirrors my experience of discovering the vegan diet and the ideals behind it, but finding it didn’t work long term for me either.
The first part of this book discusses vegetarianism. The chapter “Vegetarian Myths Dispelled” discusses the myths we are told and the real scientific answers, including “vegetarians live longer” which she shows is not true. “Vegetarian diets are more sustainable” is another myth that is proved false. It also includes a chapter on well known vegetarians who went back to eating meat.
Part two looks at the “Evolution of the Human Diet”, how agriculture changed the way humans were eating and theories that eating fish was the reason humans have larger brains.
Part three “Finding Balance in Fats, Carbohydrates, and Protein” is where Susan really gets into the details of creating the right diet for you. She looks at the different metabolic types, carb, protein and mixed. She says “So some people can do well with a high-carb diet, some need a high-protein diet and other do best on mixed.”
Everyone should read chapter 11, “Falling for the Big Fat Lie”, which discusses the fact that, contrary to popular opinion, eating fat does not make you fat…
There is also a whole chapter devoted (or maybe that’s not quite the right word) to “The China Study”. This chapter contains the critiques of both Susan and other researchers. The most important observation for me is “The fact is, none of the people in the study group were 100 percent vegan!”, which means that any conclusion from that study recommending a vegan diet is not scientific and frankly absurd.
So if you get this far in the book and decide you want to add meat back into your diet, you will probably need Part four, which goes on to the subject of “Morality, Spirituality, and Sustainability of Eating Meat”.
And then Part 5 “What’s for Dinner?” ties everything together, including sections on eating a balanced diet, why we need to eat our food raw (including any meat) and the safety of raw meat. The final chapter gives more specifics on what to eat.
There is a comprehensive bibliography at the end, references for the science bits and lots and lots of further reading if wanted.
Overall, this is an excellent book, I recommend it to everyone eating or wanting to eat a raw diet as it provides balance to all the other vegan books out there. And I especially think vegans should read this book – even if they are doing fine themselves on a vegan diet – just so that they can understand the reasons that not everyone can thrive on a vegan diet.
My personal experience with this book – it convinced me it was ok to try eating raw liver, which I have done several times now and feels like a very healthy food for me.
With 260 large pages, this is a comprehensive book. Order from your local bookshop or available at Amazon. ISBN: 978-0977679522