walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

John Robbins, _The Food Revolution_

My brother-in-law had this on the shelf in his office near the box of pens that T. was utterly enamored of. I read _Diet for a New America_ a while ago (which I appear not to currently own, altho it might be in a box back in Seattle), and thought it would be interesting to see what he'd been getting up to in the interim. About what you would expect.

For those who have not previously experienced Robbins: family Robbins is the Robbins of Baskin-Robbins. John walked away from the money, the lifestyle, and animal products in general. He wrote a book about why animal products including dairy were a really crappy idea (from individual health, ecological and social justice perspectives, plus, not cool for the animals at all) that, among other things, seriously impacted the veal industry. He talks the talk and walks the walk and is all about the opening of dialogue with non-converts. The primary effect of that is that he sometimes sounds kinda woo-woo. Which is mostly okay.

This book covers a lot of the same ground, with relevant updates including BSE/nvCJD (mad cow) and a variety of other food safety issues that have gotten much more serious since he wrote the first book. He also is pushing hard on the ecological issues, connecting consuming animal products to depletion of the Ogallala, fossil fuels, and global warming. It is enlightening to see comparisons of what you can save by not eating meat versus some other, substantial lifestyle changes such as driving less/driving a more fuel efficient vehicle.

This book, as well as his previous book, suffers from some source problems. A lot of his citations are to secondary news coverage, and not good secondary coverage, either (Time, Newsweek and the like). Where he cites original research in reputable journals, sometimes his summary is a bit misleading. For example, the Yale study about Alzheimer's that found the people actually had CJD was all patients who had weird Alzheimer's anyway. None of these problems detract from the overall message in a substantive way, because he has so much stuff to back up each point, but it is distracting to a careful and picky reader. (This is probably why I don't own _Diet for a New America_ any more).

All that aside, this is a fast, enjoyable, potentially life-changing book. When I read Robbins, it influences my eating patterns for months and years thereafter, even when I'm around a bunch of people who are still doing pseudo-Atkins diets. I consider this an extremely good thing. YMMV, of course.

He has a more recent book. I'm debating whether to buy it or not.

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