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From The CriticsReviewer: Amy Hess-Fischl, MS, RD, LDN, BC-ADM, CDE (University of Chicago Medical Center)
Description: This guide to vegetarian diets is meant to be used as an aid in counseling vegetarian clients and those interested in becoming vegetarian. The second edition was published in 2004, making this a welcome update that covers the most up-to-date issues.
Purpose: The purpose is to give dietetics professionals the information they need to effectively counsel individuals of all ages on the vegetarian diet. This book meets the objectives, giving detailed information regarding vegetarian nutrition throughout the life cycle.
Audience: The book is written for anyone who will be counseling individuals on vegetarian nutrition, but it assumes readers already have a thorough knowledge of nutrition. Dietetics professionals are the most appropriate audience, but students who have already taken several nutrition classes would benefit from this book as well. The authors are very involved in the Vegetarian Resource Group, which disseminates accurate vegetarian nutrition information, and also have contributed numerous research articles on the subject.
Features: Four sections cover the subject: an overview, components of vegetarian nutrition, vegetarianism and the life cycle, and practical implications. The overview provides a good history of vegetarianism as well as a helpful table of the different types of vegetarian diets. The chapter devoted solely to soy foods goes into great detail with numerous tables. One particular table includes all the types of soy foods and the classifications of isoflavones in each of them. Half of this chapter is devoted to chronic disease prevention and treatment with soy, touching upon the research that proves and disproves the benefits of soy in various comorbidities. The section on controversies with isoflavones is particularly helpful, especially since many patients ask questions about soy and breast health or its effect on the thyroid. Another chapter is devoted to vegetarian diets and the adolescent. Of particular benefit are the counseling points at the end of this chapter, along with other tips in every chapter devoted to the life cycle. The appendixes give in-depth information regarding nutrient intakes at all age levels along with lipid and blood pressure levels of vegetarians compared to nonvegetarians. While the book is not visually stimulating, the text is very detailed and well referenced.
Assessment: This is an excellent resource on vegetarian nutrition. While it would be the most helpful to dietetics professionals, it also is an excellent primer for those who already have a good nutrition knowledge base and are interested in learning more about vegetarian nutrition.