I read Diet for A New America in 1991. I first read about John Robbins, the author, in a local Pennsylvania newspaper. As heir to the Baskin-Robbins fortune, he was reported to be renouncing the entire inheritance. The article also mentioned his book. I felt that if he felt so strongly about this issue, then the least I could do was to read the book. It marked a turning point in my life, I guess I was ready to hear the message. I declared myself a vegetarian after reading 150 pages of the 400 page book. (10% of which is just references.) I later learned that my brother had also stopped eating animals after reading the book. I have since attended lectures by John Robbins, as well as meetings of EarthSave, a life organization that he founded. I asked him how he would have changed the book, with hindsight in mind. He said he would have added more to the global aspects, like greenhouse effects and the ozone depletion issues.
The book is divided into three sections.
I tried to wait till the end of the book before becoming a vegetarian. After all, I wanted to wait for the recipes. I didn't know what to eat. I had always felt I was eating a balanced diet, but now I had to be aware of complete proteins, sufficient minerals, carbohydrate percentages, polyunsaturated fats, soybeans and rice. But by page 150, I couldn't wait any longer. I called a friend of mine, and asked her for help, since she was a certified nutritionist professional. I told her that I needed to see her immediately before I died of malnutrition, because I didn't know what to eat. So she spent the next day with me and took me through a tour of health food stores, explaining the basics all the way. I am very thankful and grateful to her for her sincere effort to help. But what did she know, after all, she only went to school.
Animals are compassionate and intelligent life with love. He tells touching stories of how animals have sacrificed themselves for people. Stories that show how humane animals are. Stories that demonstrate how animals have used intelligence and awareness to help others. Then he contrasts this with the way we treat the animals that we raise. How torturous their life and death is. How god has asked us to care for them like children, and while they are in our charge, we eat them.
- Eating animals are very unhealthy. With an impressive list of references, this may be classified as investigative reporting. Scientific experiments and evidence are cited to prove that not only can man live without eating animals, but that vegetarianism is man's optimal diet. It seems that we have evolved mostly as vegetarians, and that eating animals causes us sickness and eventually death. It causes us to be aggressive and unhappy. It is responsible for many great and small diseases. And so on.
- The Standard American Diet is causing stresses on our environment that cannot be sustained. One pound of protein than man can obtain from eating animals, requires many times more pounds of proteins from the vegetables that the animals eat. We farm many times more land to supply food for the world than we need. We use many times more water to carry out this waste. The water, the land, and other earth resources cannot recover from this abuse in our collective lifetimes. Not only are we needlessly killing animals, and ruining our own lives; we are ruining everyone's.
Anyway, the book never did get to recipes. His next book was titled "The Search for Balance." I loved the title, but I found the book surprisingly shallow. His next book was finally a cookbook. Supposedly, he didn't really write that book himself. I met someone who claimed to have supplied the recipes and wrote the book, and he didn't even give her any credit, which was a violation of their agreement. But by that time it didn't matter, the recipes that is, because I had already sworn off of cooked food.
But I did hear an audio tape that supplemented the book, and found it very moving also. Especially the part about a pig farmer that he referred to the book. The pig farmer read the book, saw himself, and then turned his farm into a zoo. Of course, it was much more emotional to hear John relate the story, John is a better writer than I am.
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