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Book Review - How Not to Die

2018-12-29

How Not To Die by Dr. Michael Greger is quite simply a book which advocates for eating a “whole-food plant based diet.” It’s a fairly quick read, and although I haven’t gone through the “recipe” portion of the book, the first half was informative. It catalogs the top 15 causes of death in the US, and through an analysis of medical studies shows how diet plays a giant part in both causing and preventing disease.

The book and Dr. Greger are not without controversy, at least on the internet. Without being abreast of the latest research and studies and having the skills and time to interpret them, the majority of us leave the analysis to the “experts” and synthesize that information. Any topic which touches on something which affects folks lives is going to be controversial with people having deep set beliefs and opinions. Diet is a huge part of peoples lives, and food, beyond just providing sustenance is steeped in tradition and culture. So when Dr. Greger advocates for essentialy a healthy vegan diet it’s natural for people to disagree.

Without going into what other random people on the internet say, I’ll just say that I found the book to be informative and useful, and if anything, made me want to be healthier. The studies he cites, and the analysis he provides, is certainly convincing. Throughout the book, which provides statistics pertaining to reducing the likelihood of common disease, Greger advocates for a whole food plant based diet, or, essentially a healthy vegan diet. Emphasis being on healthy vegan diet, since you can live on french fries and soda and still be a vegan.

The book is thought provoking and besides its insight on diet and disease also touches on topics related to government and medicine. For instance, Greger claims that medical schools barely teach nutrition at all. He indicts the industry for being structured around performing procedures and billing to make money, which isn’t hard to believe. His treatment of the “recommended” dietary guidelines provided by the US government is pretty comical given what they recommend and what his research shows. He also discusses the influence of industry on governmental and medical guidelines.

Overall, despite his criticism of both the medical and food industry, the book offers reason to be hopeful. If anything it drives home the point that you are what you eat and offers a “statistical” approach to being healthy and reducing your risks for chronic illness later in life.

I’d definitely recommend reading the book if you’re interested in medicine and health. Don’t worry about it turning you into a vegan and a health nut. I’ll die before I stop eating pizza with real cheese.