Brenda Nieves: Brenda has recently retired from social worker after
eleven years spent working with the mentally ill and within the
criminal justice system. Originally from New Mexico, Brenda has lived
in Florida for the past fifteen years and is married with one
daughter. Since 2009, Brenda has had works of non-fiction published
in anthologies, various magazines, and online publications. She is
currently a staff writer for both Blindfold and Gridlock magazines.
To find out more about Brenda go HERE:
Author: Susan Schenck, Lac, MTOM
For years now vegan and vegetarian diets have been touted as the healthiest ways for humans to eat. Enter any bookstore and you will find the shelves lined with books on the subject and author Susan Schenck, LAc, MTOM, is no stranger to them. Five years after the first printing of Live Food Factor, : A Comprehensive Guide to the Ultimate Diet for Body, Mind, Spirit & Planet (Awakenings Publications, 2006), Ms. Schenck returns with a new book Beyond Broccoli, Creating a Biologically Balanced Diet When a Vegetarian Diet Doesn’t Work (Awakenings Publications, 2011). In it, Ms. Schenck has reversed much of her earlier praise for the benefits of plant based diets that where so much a part of the first book. Based on the question of whether or not humans are meant to eat diets free of animal products, Ms. Schenck presents the reader with twenty eight chapters meant to examine the history of vegetarianism and the pitfalls of omitting animal products from the diet long term.
Starting with a short introduction on how her own health had been suffering as a vegan, Ms. Schenck leads the reader forward to explore some of the more popular claims about vegan/vegetarian diets. Each claim is examined against documented research on human history, anatomy, and physiology. Ms. Schenck makes it a point to tell the reader that her focus is on helping people to avoid nutritional deficiencies in their diets. She does acknowledge that there are people who do quite well on vegetarian and vegan diets but many more don’t regardless of dedication, use of supplements, or consumption of imported super foods.
A good portion of the book is spent discussing essential nutrients such as DHA and EPA (for brain health), the need for cholesterol and fat in the diet, and why proteins and other nutrients from plant sources alone often are not enough. Ms. Schenck also does due diligence to the topic of carbohydrates and their role in metabolism, brain health, obesity and diabetes. On the topic of grains, Ms. Schenck asserts that most are an anti-nutrient and not a natural part of early man-kind’s diet, and that the grain merchants and our own American government have benefitted from perpetuating a lie. The theory is a familiar one; corporations share a bed with politicians and together it is they, not unbiased science, who decide what (profitable) products get promoted to the public as necessary to well-being.
As the book moves more toward examining the benefits of eating some animal based products, Ms. Schenck takes the time to explore some of the moral and spiritual dilemmas often associate with eating animal products. She first points out that we live in a creature eats creature world and mankind has never been an exception to that. Ms. Schenck uses this common knowledge to illustrate her point; our ancestors thrived on animal products and without them, we may not have survived as a species. It should be pointed out that Ms. Schenck states that she in no way supports the modern day practices of factory farming. Instead she proposes that people obtain animal products from wild game or from farms with a reputation for ethical treatment of their animals.
As the book comes to its end chapters, the author reasserts her original theme of avoiding nutritional deficiencies by reminding the reader of the importance of balance in the diet and introduces the importance of eating food raw. She asserts that most people today over cook their food and this leads to loss of nutrients, the production of toxins, and increases the work the digestive tract must do. Recognizing that eating raw meat or eggs would be unappealing to most people, she does offer up suggestions for preparing and lightly cooking certain foods. The book closes with an epilogue discussing the author’s thoughts about our culinary future, a resource list, and bibliography.
Although staunch advocates of veganism/vegetarianism may scoff at the assertions made by the author, there is no doubt that Beyond Broccoli, presents compelling evidence that plant based or plant only diets can do more harm than good. Regardless of one’s personal philosophies, this book is a good resource on nutrition and challenges the reader to become better educated about their dietary choices.
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