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Vegan for the Holidays


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Vegetarians in Paradise

Vegan Books


Each issue the VIP birds endeavor to soar to the highest literary peak to peck out the most unique, informative, and accomplished book or books that contribute to vegan enlightenment.

This month we review two books that focus on vegan diet menu plans.

Click here for a review of The Oldways 4-Week Vegetarian & Vegan Diet Menu Plan


The Forks Over Knives Plan
By Alona Pulde, MD and Matthew Lederman, MD
Recipes by Darshana Thacker and Del Sroufe

Touchstone, 2014
Hardcover, $24.99


With the impressive buzz stirred by 2011 documentary Forks Over Knives, it seemed only natural that the book The Forks Over Knives Plan would follow. While the film showed that doctors were achieving success in treating and curing patients with food-as-medicine, the The Forks Over Knives Plan puts the details on paper so a wide audience can learn how to incorporate a whole-foods plant-based diet into everyday life.

The Forks Over Knives Plan The Foreword, written by Dean Ornish, MD, confirms that he, as well as Doctors Pulde, Lederman, Barnard, Esselstyn, Jr., and McDougall have all been achieving outstanding results in reversing and preventing chronic diseases with food instead of medicine.

Dr. Pulde became disillusioned during her pre-med studies, realizing that Western medicine is closely tied to pharmaceuticals. She turned to acupuncture and Chinese medicine. Dr. Lederman, also felt discouraged by the business of conventional medicine and consulted with Dr. John McDougall, who invited him to see first hand how lifestyle medicine can actually change peoples' health in a non-invasive way. Both of them have successfully embraced this type of medicine in their practices.

The book is attractively presented in three major parts: an overview of the Forks Over Knives approach to restore health, a 4-week whole-foods plant-based transition plan, and a host of recipes for healthy everyday dining.

Restore health nutritionally
The focus is to help people restore health nutritionally instead of relying on pills and procedures conventional medicine traditionally offers. Attention is given to each of the basic food groups (fruits, vegetables, tubers and starchy vegetables, whole grains, and legumes), as well as important topics like calorie density, vitamins, exercise, and sensible pacing. (

The first week makes breakfast an important starting point with attention to reading food labels, discarding unhealthy foods, restocking the pantry, and learning how to shop for groceries. The perennial incomplete protein myth gets a new focus, while the old term "diet" becomes a new way of living life with a different style. This chapter has a basic listing of fresh, frozen, and shelf-stable items to help jumpstart the new lifestyle.

Dr. Matthew Lederman

Dr. Matthew Lederman Week 2 takes a new look at lunch with meal planning to note how foods affect one's mood and the value of keeping a journal. Because patients encounter common problems like low energy, sweet temptations, and sticking to the program, the authors recognize these are natural and offer helpful solutions. Also covered is another common myth, that dairy is necessary for calcium and strong bones. Patients learn that strong bones rely on vitamin D from sun exposure and strength training to build bone mass.

The 3rd week shows readers how to change the dinner plate, offers valuable cooking and seasoning tips, discusses fats, and deals with cravings and feelings of deprivation.

By week 4, people have begun to experience major changes and can work on eating wisely in social situations like dining at restaurants, traveling, eating at friends' homes, and addressing social pressures. This chapter discusses the value of carbohydrates and debunks the myth that carbs are unhealthy.

100 enticing dishes
The extensive recipe section includes 100 enticing dishes, some to start the day with a wholesome breakfast, and some for light as well as heartier fare with variety to please every palate.

Dr. Alona Pulde

Dr. Alona Pulde Baked Breakfast Polenta with Berry Compote and Twice-Baked Breakfast Sweet Potatoes make delicious foods for the first meal of the day, while tasty dishes like Kale and Mung Bean Stew or 30-Minute Chile offer tempting stick-to-the-ribs lunch or dinner recipes. Transition to a plant-based diet would be easy with tantalizing dishes like Polenta Pizza Pie or Sweet Potato Mac and Cheese. And for dessert, there's a good old-fashioned standby like Rice Pudding topped with Mixed Berry Sauce.

Recognizing that readers find inspiration in personal stories, the authors included several brief testimonials from patients who have made the transition to a plant-based lifestyle and share their personal successes and challenges. The book concludes with acknowledgements, resources, and extensive reference notes.

The Forks Over Knives Plan outlines a dynamic 4-week program to guide readers gently into the whole-foods, plant-based path to good health. Along with their friendly step-by-step approach, the doctors also show the science behind the emerging practice of lifestyle medicine. This is the ideal book for anyone seeking to live a life of zest and vitality in good health.



The Oldways 4-Week
Vegetarian & Vegan Diet Menu Plan

By Oldways and Sharon Palmer, RD

Oldways Preservation and Exchange Trust, 2014
Paperback $10.00


Oldways 4-Week Vegetarian & Vegan Diet Menu Plan How fortunate for seekers of good health that Oldways and Registered Dietitian Sharon Palmer combined their efforts to produce The Oldways 4-Week Vegetarian & Vegan Diet Menu Plan. The concise 83-page booklet is a well-planned, basic handbook to help people transition to a whole-foods, plant-based way of eating.

Oldways, founded in 1990, is an organization with a philosophy that helps people return to more traditional ways of eating that honor farm-fresh foods prepared from scratch and enjoyed in the company of friends and family.

Anyone wanting to learn how to eat a nutritionally sound, plant-based regimen will find the Oldways booklet a welcome guidebook. With the guidance of Sharon Palmer, no one need worry about getting enough protein or calcium or if the meal plans provide the right kind of fats. Those concerns are covered in simple, easy-to follow steps.

An attractive, full color food guide pyramid dominates page 2, and impressively demonstrates just how much variety one can find on a plant-based food plan.

"Eight Simple Steps" alerts readers to focus on an optimal eating style:

  1. Fuel Up with Healthful Protein Sources.
  2. Boost Whole Grains.
  3. Fill Your Plate with Vegetables.
  4. Make Fruit Your Daily Dessert,
  5. Focus on Healthy Fats.
  6. Be Picky about Beverages.
  7. Eat Regular, Balanced Meals.
  8. Make Variety Your Motto.

In two pages, the booklet provides easy cooking methods to emphasize the value of cooking at home and reminding readers that, "By preparing your own meals, you can be more selective about the ingredients that go into them." A barebones listing of needed kitchen equipment and pantry items is an ideal starting point for the new home cook.

The Breakfast 1-2-3 Plan tells readers, "The best breakfasts include all of the major food groups on the Vegetarian & Vegan Food Guide Pyramid." People can choose which whole grains, fruits or vegetables, and which proteins to include in their first meal of the day. Mentioned more than once is for people to drink water, tea, or coffee with meals rather than unhealthy beverages.

Day-by-day menus
The booklet provides four weeks of day-by-day menus featuring healthy plant-based foods that take the guesswork out of what to eat. Each day features one or two tasty recipes and a handy tip to make food preparation easy and enjoyable. One tip describes how to sauté vegetables, and another to make homemade salad dressing. One excellent bit of advice emphasizes that green leafy vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals and that many are good sources of plant-based calcium.

Sharon Palmer Following the menu plans is a brief guide for preparing delicious salad dressings, tips for healthier plant-based eating, and information on whole grains: where to buy them, and how to cook them. The Plant Protein Guide provides a nutritional analysis for plant-based foods that are high in protein, like lentils, beans, and nuts and seeds. The final chart is a nutritional analysis of all the recipes in the book.

The booklet is graphically attractive with colorful food photos throughout and color bars behind section titles to make the reading experience visually appealing.

With fast food restaurants on practically every street corner and manufactured foods dominating supermarket shelves, it's no wonder the Standard American Diet (SAD) had become the norm. The SAD result of our American way of eating is a country with an unhealthy population.

The Oldways 4-Week Vegetarian & Vegan Diet Menu Plan is an excellent guide and handbook for everyone wanting and needing to achieve better health. The best feature is the booklet's brevity, while still covering so many important details. Newcomers to a plant-based eating plan will have recipes, menu plans, nutritional analyses, and a host of tips to get them started on a path to great health and vitality.

Click here for past book reviews


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