Vegan for Her is similiar to Vegan For Life, in that it focuses on vegan nutrition and health. But it's wonderful that it focuses on those topics for women, because women's unique health issues have been sadly neglected by medical research and the medical profession.
Any woman who wants to achieve optimum health can benefit from this informative, helpful and supportive book, whether or not she is vegan, or wants to go vegan.
In Vegan for Her, Virginia Messina gives real solutions for womens health and wellness issues related to pregnancy and breastfeeding, weight loss, PMS, menopause, aging and much more, backed by nutritional science, good sense and practical experience.
Chapter One - Going Vegan: An Easy Transition sticks to the basics, and focuses on making it easy.
"Basically, if you can steam vegetables, bake a potato, and open a can, you can be vegan. And if you want to do a little more prep then that, you still don't need more than a few pots and pans, a cutting board, and a food processor or blender."
Chapter Two is a vegan nutrition primer - the basic necessities for a balanced nutritious vegan diet. You can go more in depth in Vegan For Life, if you want to, but this chapter provides a solid nutritional foundation.
Chapter Three - Beyond Nutrients: One Healthy Diet is an introduction to Part Two of the book - where things get REALLY interesting!
Page 47 of Chapter 3 presents the core concepts for healthy food choices: A diet rich in antioxidants, low GI foods, healthy sources of fat, adding acidic ingredients, choosing steaming over frying, exercising to help things along.
Research presented in Part Two of Vegan for Her shows that a whole food plant based diet is most effective for preventing and reversing health problems such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and depression, plus those which are specific to women, such as breast cancer, and common in women, such as osteoporosis.
Any woman can benefit from the information in Part Two. For me it provided solid scientific backup for my decision to go completely vegan, that I can show to others, and which goes far beyond the anecdotal evidence of my own body, which people tend to discount.
In Chapter Four, Virginia Messina explains the different types of scientific studies and how she chose the most relevant and reliable studies to support this book. Throughout the book, she is candid about the scope and limitations of the studies she references.
Chapters Five through Eight cover plant based diet and female hormones, fertility, and athletics. Chapters Nine through Thirteen cover weight loss, aging, breast cancer, heart and bone health.
Chapter Fourteen is about relieving pain and managing health conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, osteo-arthritis, and migraines with vegan diet.
Chapter Fifteen is about controlling diabetes with a plant based diet, and Chapter 16 is about managing stress and depression with plant based diet and other life style changes, with an important section on not letting your diet become a source of stress.
Virginia Messina (pictured on the left) says that "researchers have coined the term orthorexia (Latin for 'correct eating') to describe an unhealthy preoccupation with eating healthy foods. People with orthorexia become fearful of eating anything that doesn't fit strict definintions of acceptable foods."
Fitting actions to words, in the last section of the book, JL Fields (pictured on the right) gets down to the nitty gritty - how to conjure up that healthy vegan diet, without spending a fortune and all your time in the kitchen obsessing about food.
In Chapter 17, before she gets into the food, JL Fields talks about veganism beyond the plate - why it's good to go vegan for the animals as well as your health. She offers understanding advice and support for this aspect from her own vegan journey.
In Part Four, the recipes, JL Fields provides ingredient and equipment suggestions, cooking tips, vegan recipes and menus for beginning to veteran vegan cooks. The emphasis is on delicious and easy. But of course, these recipes are healthy too, and will help you achieve your good health goals.
While not a complete cookbook, the menus and recipes in Vegan For Her will keep you going for a long time, and give a solid grounding in easy cooking for maximum nutrition. Once you have made these recipes, you'll know what to expect from a good vegan cookbook.
I counted 55 simple recipes, a nice variety spread over breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, many well within the comfort zone for most new vegans and beginning cooks, with a few surprises for the more adventurous, reflecting JL's eclectic world of food.
For a test recipe, I made Garlic Almond Collards, because I love collards, and they don't often show up in cookbooks. Collards are the most nutritious of leafy greens, with 2 g. protein per serving, high in iron, folate, calcium, potassium, Vit C and Vit K. This recipe is a wonderful way to eat them.
On my list of recipes to try:
What Else is in Vegan For Her? Metric conversion chart, resources for vegan women, food sources of important nutrients, 44 pages of references - proof that this is the straight goods.
This book is everything women need to know for health, wrapped up in a direct, uncomplicated and accessible, plain spoken but relaxed package.
I highly recommend Vegan For Her to any woman who cares about her health.
Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian