63 of 64 people found the following review helpful
Chicago Book Addict
- Published on Amazon.com
This Crazy Vegan Life: A Prescription for an Endangered Species reads like a lifestyle book for omnivores who are considering a vegan lifestyle. Overall this book is pretty substantially focused on weight loss and speaks to someone who may be wrestling with excess weight and poor eating habits. However, it is still broad enough that even those who are already eating a healthy diet and maintaining their weight will find something of value. The premise of the book is that through a vegan lifestyle that emphasizes whole foods, exercise, and mindfulness one can not only lose weight but start a journey towards a healthier life and more longevity. I say lifestyle because Pirello is careful to point out several times throughout the book that this is not a quick fix or a fad diet, but a lifestyle that one must be willing to embrace for a lifetime.
For the most part, Pirello achieves this aim. She manages to give the reader a very good sense of what a vegan lifestyle entails and its benefits (for weight, health, the environment, animal welfare, etc.) as well as a good crash course in nutrition and and exercise. All of these topics are presented in a manner that is suitable for a beginner. In other words, she assumes no prior knowledge about nutrition or veganism. This means that the book is very approachable if you are new to either or both. However, if you're already quite familiar with veganism, nutrition, or exercise a lot of what you find here will be review. In either case, Pirello does a good job of breaking down the shift to veganism step by step and even providing a 21 day plan with menus and recipes to ease yourself in. I especially appreciated that although the recipes she includes are loaded with whole grains and vegetables they don't feel like "diet food" and sound very appealing. As she mentions in her book, a routine is only good if you can stick to it and with recipes like Tangy Pear and Blueberry Salad, maple popcorn, and mini pumpkin cupcakes with orange glaze she makes it seem VERY doable. She also explains a lot of culinary terms, especially as it relates to vegetables, that should help make those who do not cook a lot feel more comfortable with the recipes.
Although I appreciated these aspects of the book there were a couple of things that kept me from giving it a 5 star review. The biggest one for me was the absence of end or footnotes or sources. The author cites a lot of medical studies and nutrition facts, which I appreciate but does not provide detailed source information to check out on my own. For the sake of clarity, she does include a resource list, but these do not seem to be clearly related to the studies cited in the book. I recognize that not everyone takes the time to check out sources but when health and nutrition are involved I love going straight to the source whenever possible. As a point of comparison, Michael Pollan, who she mentions in her book has 23 pages of sources in In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto and also includes all the cited articles on his website. It's clear that Pirello did a lot of research for this book so I only wish she made the sources more accessible to the reader. To me this not only instills more confidence in the data mentioned, but also helps me to deepen my knowledge on health and nutrition through my own follow up research.
The other thing I didn't care for is that sometimes the author's tone seemed to slip into hyperbole, particularly when it comes to describing the ill effects of eating animal products. I get that this is done for added emphasis and gives the book life. However, at times I felt like it was a bit much. This is largely a personal judgement and I recognize that others will find the same tone enjoyable. I think it only bothered me because at times it was coupled with nutrition information that could be a bit vague. For example, she mentions that Splenda is broken down into a toxic compound which she deduces will have negative effects on the body. However, she fails to mention in what quantities and to specify what these negative effects will be. This is a case where a footnote would have been fantastic as I would have loved to get more information on this.
Even with these complaints I think there is still a lot of value to be had in this book. It's approachable, thorough, and great for a beginner. Compared to other books I have read on the vegan lifestyle like Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World and Skinny Bitch I think it does the best job of setting you up with the tools you need to be successful. Of the three it also focuses the most strongly on making sure you don't just don't switch from regular junk food to vegan junk food by favoring whole foods. Of these three books I would definitely recommend This Crazy Vegan Life: A Prescription for an Endangered Species the most, but still think there are areas in which it could be improved to be a more rigorous vegan resource.
29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I love all of Christina's books, and this one is no exception! This book includes over 100 vegan recipes (with ingredients that are easy to find in any grocery store or health food store). The recipes are not complicated and nutrition information is included at the end of each recipe. There is also a 21-day nutrition and fitness plan which includes sample menus and an exercise routine (with pictures as well as descriptions). The table of contents includes:
1. How Did We Get Into this Mess Anyway?
2. Veganomics: Rethinking Everything
3. The Path to Rethinking Your Life
4. Food for Thought
5. Eat Well for Life
6. The Eating Plan: Menus and Recipes
7. Get Moving
8. This Crazy Vegan Lifestyle
Christina's writing style is fun and easy to read. She's been living this lifestyle for a while and she knows her stuff. If you're not already into this lifestyle, this will be a thought-provoking read. Christina saved her life by changing her diet; she is living proof that it works! By changing the way you eat, you can experience positive results too (increased energy, weight loss, improved health and vitality).
Thank you, Christina!
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
S. D. Shaver
- Published on Amazon.com
So, I've been on this plan for about two weeks, and the subject pretty much says it all. Good advice! Poorly assembled diet "plan".
The advice that starts out the book is written in a conversational tone, but it's nothing new to anyone who's read a book on vegan lifestyles. Half of the book is dedicated to telling you why going veg is good for you, which is probably necessary and useful for someone new to the lifestyle. I read it dutifully, hoping to find some new gems, but it mostly contained stuff I'd already read in "The China Study" and others. Still, this would be useful if you were completely new to the subject, so I can't demerit her for doing her due diligence.
She did make a point of saying what I haven't seen in a lot of other vegan/macrobiotic books, mainly: calories in, calories out. What you don't burn, you gain. Hurray for that!
I will also give her props for not going down the rabbit hole of "reheated food is bad" or insisting I ditch my microwave or buy a gas oven. She doesn't mention any of these. She also didn't try to tell me that doing some light stretching a day was all the exercise I needed. There is some decent advice on exercise in the book, and it doesn't require crazy equipment; you could easily do any of the moves in a tiny apartment with a set of resistance bands.
The diet "plan" itself is where things start to fall apart. First, there is no shallow end: she dives straight into veganism, and doesn't look back. No "flirts" here. This might work for some people, but I have to wonder how well this works with long-time meat eaters.
Second, the number of dishes she has you preparing is ludicrous. This might be easier to cope with if she mentioned some way to mix/match the recipes, but she doesn't. Instead, we get guilt -- if we TRULY care about our bodies then we'll go to the effort of making breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. Seriously, though, who has time for this other than a professional cookbook author?
My third complaint is an editing issue: the meal plan pages don't list page numbers for the recipe they reference. So there's a ton of flipping back and forth through the book, going to the index, now going to the recipe, now going back to the menu. Argh.
Fourth, because I was so flummoxed by all these ingredients, recipes, and so on, I decided to fill out a spreadsheet for every meal I was eating from the book that week, and tried roughing together some way to build a meal plan around leftovers so I wouldn't be preparing 6+ meals a day. Yes. I created A SPREADSHEET because there were so many recipes, ingredients, and dishes I was expected to have on hand every day. In the spreadsheet, I put page number, calories per serving, and a tick in a column for every fresh ingredient needed. Then I started totally up daily calories, and to my surprise they weren't balanced. AT ALL. Some days she had me eating around 1300 calories, other days bordering on 1700. It was inexplicable and smacks of poor number crunching on the author/editor's part. Some items didn't even have calories, like steamed kale and the daikon-carrot "remedy". What happened to calories in, Christine?
Fifth, where is the study backing up the claims that kombu and daikon "dissolve hardened fat" in our bodies? No, seriously -- I'd love to know if there is one, but I kind of suspect there isn't. Anyone know?
Finally -- some of these intro recipes suck. Sorry. They're boring, bland, and tedious to prepare. And they're some of the first recipes you're making! So once again, good luck keeping a die-hard meat eater loving this life. Not all of them suck, though, which is why I give the book 3 stars.
I give her props for trying, and for actually posting calories per serving. But ultimately, I was too disappointed with the seeming lack of sensitivity to those of us with day jobs and don't have three hours a day to spend cooking (to say nothing of the additional time shopping).
* Good advice for a beginning vegan.
* Good fitness tips.
* Some good recipes.
* Written in a friendly, conversational tone.
* Facts occasionally followed up with research studies.
* Too many recipes to make per day for anyone who has a day job.
* Poorly designed daily menu leads to too much flipping around in the book.
* Daily calories poorly balanced.
* No mix-n-match suggestions.
* Intro recipes tedious and often bland.
* Some iffy-sounding "facts" (properties of kombu/daikon and their effect on fat in the body).
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
I love this book. It's very easy to read and has lots of great info. Most vegan books don't tell you how to lose weight. It's just expected that if you're vegan...you just will. But that's not always the case as Christina brings out. She goes into detail of her own weight battle....and wants to help you with yours (if need be).
This is a great read with lots of low cal recipes. It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
J. J. Hill
- Published on Amazon.com
I have been a vegetarian for about 20 years. I'm 52 and most people think I look about 40. When people ask why I look so young, I always say it's because I'm a Vegetarian. I know it's the truth.
My goal in ordering this book was to get closer to becoming a vegan. I'm in the process, but I still have a few hold outs that I'm having trouble giving up. But like everything in life it's about the journey
This book is absolutely wonderful. It's FULL of infomation about nutrition that everyone should know. It doesn't matter if you are young or old, fat or thin, vegetarian or meat eater there is information here that you should know. I was aware of much of the information that the book has to offer, but the simple reading and "to the point" information just makes it easy to take it all in. Great, great, information!
This book helps prove (as I already knew)that the American diet is terribly flawed. It gently point fingers at the way "big business" dictates what is released when it comes to nutrition information. Most of what we hear is so distorted by those paying for the studies. In my eyes, it's criminal what happens in the way nutrition information is delivered to the American public.
Christina's knowledge of nutrition is outstanding. Her arguements are compelling. I've read the book once and now it's time to go through again and hi-lite all the tidbits of information that I want to remember so that I can can continue to incorporate them into my life one by one.
Even if you don't think you can become a vegetarian or a vegan read this book. If you simply take of bit of information from this book each week you life can change. You never know, you might just stop eating meat both for your own health and to help stop the abuse that goes on in the meat industry. It's really not hard at all to be a vegetarian. Being a vegan is a bit harder. Maybe if I can become crazy like Christina I can do it.
My hour on the treadmill each morning goes so fast when my head is in this book. Give it to people who love who need to look at thier diet.
I think this is a must read for everyone.