Steven H Propp
- Published on Amazon.com
John Robbins (born 1947) rejected his role as heir to the Baskin Robbins ice cream chain, and is president of the EarthSave Foundation, as well as author of books such as Diet for a New America, No Happy Cows: Dispatches from the Frontlines of the Food Revolution, The New Good Life: Living Better Than Ever in an Age of Less, etc. In the first chapter of this 2001 book, he states, "I have written 'The Food Revolution' in the belief that---wounded and human as we are---we can still create a thriving and sustainable way of life for all. The restorative powers of both the human body and the Earth are immense." (Pg. 7)
He recalls that "My father, Irv Robbins, founded... the world's largest ice cream company... Not all that surprisingly, many people in the family struggled with weight problems... my father developed serious diabetes and high blood pressure, and I was sick more often than not... my father was grooming me to succeed him... [But} I walked away from an opportunity to live a life of wealth to live a different kind of life... to make a contribution to the well-being and happiness of others... My father was not pleased." (Pg. 1-2)
He notes, "I objected when my publisher wanted to give my first book the title 'Diet for a New America,' because I didn't particularly like the word 'diet.' It brought to my mind images of austerity, restriction, and deprivation... [But] They titled the book what they thought would sell... Thus, I became a 'diet' book author... The reality, though, is that I don't teach a step-by-step, follow-the-rules program to lose weight... What I propose is the development of a healthy and wholesome relationship to your body and to food, so that unhealthy weight naturally drops off on its own." (Pg. 55-57)
Interestingly, after noting that in his lectures he often observed that if he hadn't left Baskin-Robbins, "I'd probably... [be] fat, rich, and unhappy," he recounts how once the CURRENT president of the company approached him after a lecture, saying, "I want you to know that I AM the president of Baskin-Robbins, and I'm not fat, I'm not rich, and I'm not unhappy." The president and his wife [a nutritionist] were vegetarian/vegan and "major fans of 'Diet for a New America," and "agreed with everything I had said in my lecture." (Pg. 110-111)
He says, "I wonder why it is, though, that we call some animals 'pets,' and lavish our love and care on them, and then turn around and call other animals 'dinner,' and allow them to be treated as if they had no feelings or needs of their own." (Pg. 183) After noting that terms like "free range" and "natural" are often misused by the poultry industry, he states, "the only certain way not to partake of the misery that pervades factory farm eggs and poultry is to avoid commercial chicken and eggs altogether." (Pg. 197-198) He concludes, "I do not believe that anyone's true health can be sustained by eating products produced through systems that depend on the relentless and systematic suffering of billions of our fellow creatures." (Pg. 226)
Robbins' book, like his earlier 'Diet,' will be of great interest to vegetarians/vegans, animal lovers, ecologically-minded people, progressives, and all kinds of other open-minded individuals.
4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I enjoyed this book. A lot. Especially the chapters about foodborne illness. I've read probably over 100 books by now about the food industry, diet, nutrition in this day and age of overprocessing and CAFOs. Everything by Marion Nestle, Michael Pollan, the classics: Fast Food Nation, Peter Singer's Animal Liberation, etc.
This would probably not be one of my top 5 or 10. The stories feel embellished, and though there are plenty of citations, I feel some of his statements could use them when they are absent. His stories seem embellished -- but don't get me wrong -- he is a VERY good storyteller and writer and has a great story to tell. He presents plenty of valid information and even delves further into debunking stupid diets like Atkins and Zone; he covers a lot of subjects in one book, from animals' rights to live and share this earth, to smoking cessation, to diet myths, to nutrition and industrial farming, people he's met along the way, etc. I won't take away from the fact that this is a very good book and filled with a ton of useful information.
There are some things I don't like, though. First, I feel that it should be made more obvious before a person buys this book that he is a vegetarian, and is very obviously preaching vegetarianism. It's important to understand that though he presents plenty of valid information about vegetarians versus meat eaters and their health, I feel that grass fed, pastured meat is left completely out of this book -- this is not the only one, either, as Marion Nestle more or less left pastured meat out of one of her books, What To Eat, and she is one of the foremost experts on nutrition. Perhaps it was the timing; pastured, grass-fed beef is up-and-coming and has been much easier to find in the past 5 or so years; when he wrote this it might not have been a viable option for your typical reader. However, it is now. And studies shown in this book profile meat eaters versus vegetarians, with meat eaters in more or less poor health; but when the only meat on the market is corn-fed meat filled with chemicals, of course those people in the study will be unhealthy.
It's also important to realize that you can find all the snippets and quotes you want to prove virtually any point you want to prove, anywhere, about anything. I think these quotes, which run through the book and continuously illustrate his point, may be interesting (or disgusting) to someone who is newly researching this industry, but I felt they were a waste of space.
In any event, this is great for a vegetarian, or someone looking to switch to vegetarianism; but it'd be nice if people could be told that there ARE other options, and it is possible to eat meat from happy, pastured cows who roam, eat grass, and get to keep their young -- the same is true with pigs, chickens, lamb and others. Industrially farmed meat is not the only meat on the market anymore, and because of this there are more options for people before they decide they must switch to vegetarianism. I am not saying I am against it; vegetarianism is a great way to go, but I for one enjoy meat 2 or 3 times a week, and purchase it pastured, grass fed, from real farms who do not inject, medicate, or harm their animals at any point up until slaughter.
All in all, this is one of the few books I've read that covers all the bases... except for pastured meat. I'd like to see an annotated version or something, but for now I would suggest reading Michael Pollan's "Omnivore's Dilemma" as a supplement to this.