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Disease-Free Living Through Fitness and Nutrition

BOOK REVIEW


Diet For A New America
by John Robbins

381 Pages, Paperback, $13.95

It garnered a Pulitzer Prize Nomination and is hailed by the authors of the best-selling diet book in American History as “one of the most important documents of the 20th Century.” (“Fit for Life” authors: Marilynand Harvey Diamond.)

If that, and the heroic tales about dogs, dolphins and pigs don’t get you, John Robbins’ well-documented book on how one’s food choices affect health, happiness and the future of life on Earth surely will.

The thickness of“Diet for a New America” looks intimidating, but when a learning-disabled teen finds reading it more pleasure than pain, and people as diverse as movie starsEllen Burnstyn and Alan Alda, as well as doctors John McDougall, Dean Ornish, Joel Fuhrman and Ron Cridland (Internist, Cardiologist, Pediatrician and Family Practitioner) praise its virtues, its uniqueness stands out.

“From childhood on,” Robbins states in the introduction, “it was expected that I would someday take over and run what has become the world’s largest ice cream company –Baskin-Robbins. Year after year I was groomed and prepared for the task, given an opportunity to live the Great American dream on a scale very few people can ever hope to attain. The ice cream cone-shaped swimming pool in the back yard of the house in which I lived was a symbol of the success awaiting me.”

Robbins chose to reject that legacy in favor of helping to create a more stable environment for the Earth’s children. His monumental endeavor adeptly intertwines philosophy, wit, history, literature, science and facts – as well as his own intense experiences – and is summed up in the first chapter’s title: “All God’s Critters Have a Place in the Choir.”

Proclaims Robbins: “Diet for a New America contains no dogmatic list of should and shouldn’ts, but instead gives you information that will help you select and enjoy foods that day by day will make you healthierand happier. It tells you how to protect yourself against heart attacks,cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, strokes and the other scourges of our time. It tells you how to keep your body free from cholesterol, saturated fat,artificial hormones, antibiotic-resistant bacteria, pesticides and the countless other disease-producing agents found all too often in many of today’s foods. It shows you how you can enjoy eating food that leaves your mind and heart clear and unpolluted.”

What do Olympic athletes, teenage pregnancies, crime, heart disease, and Brazilian rain forests have in common? More than most people would ever guess, points out Robbins.

The author’s credentials are impeccable. Robbins gave up luxury and privilege in favor of promoting health rather than disease he says is promoted through the consumption of animal and dairy products.

Robbins spent more than seven years researching and writing this book, and it shows. Its attention to detail is not lost on the reader. The poetic and though-provoking quotes at the beginning of each chapter highlight the depth and scope of the content.

The word “Diet” in the title is a misnomer, I feel, if one is looking for specific recipes. Robbins intends it in a larger sense as a“diet” for the health of people, animals and the Earth.

Its appeal is broad: the preteen captivated by animals; mothers’ concerns for family health;athletes looking to improve performance; scientists seeking empirical evidence;and physicians questioning med school’s emphasis on pathology rather thanprevention.

Robbins’ book is engrossing and articulate, and a real eyeopener for most Americans who make little connection between the standardAmerican diet and the fate of the world. It puts into perspective questionsabout health, ethics, politics, environment and a “kinder, gentler future” madepossible by the foods we put on our plate.

--Gerry CoffeyHealthEducator/FitnessInstructor/Writer

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