My thoughts on How Not To Die.

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Earlier on this year I made a new friend. A so-called Health “Vegan”. You know, “vegan” as in he saw no fault in having cream cheese every once in a while, or how he would still target poor possoms along the roadside as he drove me back home at nights. Either way, he lent me this book by Dr Michael Greger which is, along with being on board the environmental issues, what made him make the move from long time veggie to vegan. (Okay, “vegan”!).

Mind you, I was a bit skeptical as I began the daunting task of getting through this 525 page brick (rest assured, 132 are merely references…) titled How Not To Die. I mean, the title alone sounds arrogantly preachy, right? And, as I am sure most 25 year old women would agree, I certainly did not feel like reading a bunch of pin-points on do’s and don’ts when it comes to food. For me, animal welfare has always been reason enough to stray way off any animal derived products.

But don’t judge a book by its cover, right?

Yet I was curious about learning more on the health benefits of veganism. As I got to reading, I was soon irritating my house mates with “fun facts” on how one can test the pH of ones urine (pee-H!!) with the help of purple cabbage and that consuming powdered ginger can help ease menstural cramps. All in all, this book was just full of the regular kind of mumbo-jumbo that I love!

Essentially, this book covers the health benefits of a vegan… sorry, a plantbased whole foods diet (the author does make a point of NOT labelling himself a vegan) and how excluding animal derived products from our diets can prevent many of our most common diseases/conditions in the western world. Among them the likes of breast- and prostate cancer, high blood pressure and heart disease. While medical science can accomplish extraordinary things, the thing is that nutritional advice only covers a few days worth of the years spent on a medical degree. It is a system is based on easing symptoms, rather than the root of the problem. Of course, telling your patients to eat broccoli does not exactly evolve to a million dollar (pharmaceutical) business. Who wants to bother with boring ol’broccoli when you could just take a pill?

Plain and simple, through and through

Dr Greger goes through this information very gracefully. It never feels preachy, rather inspiring. While it is scientific, to my great delight I also find he writes with good metaphors and great wit. While we have all seen various doctors and health gurus amount to the likes of Atkins-, GI-, or Mediterranean diets, Dr Greger does not advocate a specific meal plan, or a weight loss scheme, or a magical tea/pill/whatever. There is no Dr Greger Diet, nor will there ever be. Rather the reader is provided with a list of items to actively try to incorporate into your daily life. Legumes, cruciferous veg, fresh herbs. It is just plain and simple, about actual food.
(Food that does not involve the killing of animals. Or yourself.)

Of course, I am by no means to change my oreos-dipped-in-peanut-butter-act any time soon, but it does contain a lot of valid information regarding vegetable grub and it could be proven a useful tool for people who find it difficult to relate to plant based food via animal welfare or environmental impact.

So if not for the animals,
if not for single mother Earth,
then perhaps for your self and your loved ones?