Have you read Vegan for Life yet? If not, you should move it to the top of your reading list. Whether you’re newly vegan (good for you!), a longtime vegan (keep it up!), or an aspiring vegan (you can do it!), the book will have something to offer you.
The book is a nutrition guide for vegans by vegan activists and registered dietitians Jack Norris and Ginny Messina. Both are well-regarded dietitians AND animal advocates, which makes their advice invaluable. Messina is coauthor of the ADA’s position paper of vegetarian and vegan diets, and Norris runs the website veganhealth.org as part of his work with Vegan Outreach. Their focus is on giving accurate, up-to-date nutrition information so people can feel confident going vegan and so they can stay vegan, too.
To begin with, the book is a solid guide to nutrition in general and vegan nutrition specifically. If you have no idea what you’re supposed to be eating, the book will guide you without overwhelming you. If you’ve been vegan awhile, it covers all those questions you’re tired of hearing about with straightforward answers you can repeat to your Aunt Gertrude at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Protein? Calcium? Soy? Vegan death flu? (just kidding)
Some of the answers might be a bit different from what you’d expect. Should vegans worry about protein? Say it with me, NO! Except, maybe we should worry just a teensy bit. Or rather, maybe we should make sure we’re eating our beans. If you’re including beans (or pistachios or quinoa) in your diet regularly, than you’re surely getting enough of the amino acid lysine, which can be a bit limited in other plant foods. If you don’t eat beans, pistachios or quinoa, you might need to keep a closer eye on your protein consumption.
There are some updates about other widely-repeated vegan nutrition advice, too. Calcium? We need just as much as a person eating the typical amount of meat an American eats. It’s not that we’re giving into lying, government-controlled vegan scaremongering. There’s just been more research into nutrition that means we have to adjust our views on what qualifies as a good diet. That’s how science works. When new information comes to light, we have to embrace it and adapt.
Beyond setting straight some outdated nutrition information, the book will put to rest most nutrition worries you might have. There’s advice on how to feed children, how to be vegan in pregnancy, how to eat if you’re an athlete, how to eat vegan with special dietary concerns, how to eat vegan if you’re elderly, and how to go vegan in the first place. I love the simple recipe suggestions and meal plans. Because food doesn’t have to be complicated, right? There’s advice on how to stock a vegan pantry and how to cook vegan on a budget.
Even if you think you know everything there is to know about vegan nutrition, the book is worth picking up. It uses very straightforward, easy-to-understand language, and I think every vegan advocate should have these basics straight. It’s important to give correct information so people stay healthy and stay vegan.