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Diet for a New America

Diet for a New America

a book review by Arthur Lee Jacobson

Diet for a New America: How your food choices affect your health, happiness and the future of life on earth By John Robbins. Published in 1987 by H.J. Kramer. Softcover. ISBN 0915811812.

    About a dozen Seattle Tilth members gathered on a January evening to share a meal and view a videotaped lecture by John Robbins. Robbins is energetically informing Americans about the total impact of our dietary choices. His lecture, along with his 1987 book Diet for a New America, convinced me to change from an omnivorous diet to one that excludes or limits meat, eggs and dairy products.
    Robbins explains clearly how the traditional American diet is harmful to us. At stake is not only our health as individuals, but our collective well-being. The wholesale waste of water, topsoil, forests, and the poisoning of our world with manufactured chemicals, goes hand in hand with contemporary meat-eating habits.

    "A new direction for Americans' diet-style . . . is probably the most potent single act most individuals can take at the present time in the effort to halt the destruction of our environment and preserve our precious natural resources." (page 363)

    This being so, you need not groan "another fanatical weirdo diet!" For Robbins' message is up to date, researched thoroughly, careful in documentation, and presented in a well-written, orderly manner. A true, solid work not in the class of glossy, superficial diet books of supermarket racks. The book is hefty, at 1.25 inches thick and over 430 pages. At $12.95 (now $14.95) it is fairly priced.
    If vegetarianism is so great and the average American diet so bad, why do we persist in doing ourselves this harm? All is not gold that glitters; creeping habits become in time binding shackles. The plain truth is nutrition is and has been under appreciated in this country.
    Most of the multibillion dollar medical budget of society treats nutrition-related problems, yet ordinary doctors receive truly minimal schooling in nutrition. Doctors tend to treat disease symptoms instead of focusing on causes and prevention. This is like silencing a wailing siren but not addressing what caused the alarm to sound. Yet heart disease, cancer, M.S., diabetes, ulcers, constipation, arthritis and more, are influenced directly by diet.
    There is, Robbins shows, overwhelming evidence to prove vegetarian advantages. The proof is in scientific studies, testimony from athletes, and comparative social studies. Humans are capable of eating meat, obviously --but we are not carnivores such as lions, and our bodies function better without meat.
    The troubling fears of protein deficiency, bothersome grain combinations and anemic weakness, are not founded on truth. There is a mountain of misinformation and contrived deception about diet fed to us due to the biased and powerful influence of the meat, dairy and egg industries. We are lied to about the way animals are reared, and about the consequences to ourselves from ingesting the polluted flesh of such suffering beasts.
    On and on, like driving a nail with a hammer, Robbins leads the reader through the sickening world of factory farms, the latest health studies, and the hidden environmental consequences of our actions. The result is a book that instills fear of the present and urgent, strong desire for change.
    Presently, to be vegetarian is still awkward socially, even more difficult if one travels much or interacts with others often at mealtimes. But our individual health screams for it, and our indirect adverse affect on the environment also acts as a dire warning. Even in dollar terms such a move is desirable.
    If you have trouble knowing why, or how much to change your eating habits, this book will make these choices less difficult. Even a little improvement is still seriously worthwhile --a living dog is better than a dead lion.
    I wrote this instead of the usual PLANT OF THE MONTH article because no plant has made me try to change my ways so fundamentally as has the message of John Robbins.

(Originally intended to be published in the January 1990 Seattle Tilth newsletter. But it was not.)

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Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert
Arthur Lee Jacobson plant expert

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