The Pragmatic Vegan: Pleasure Not Meating You by Melody L. Schoenfeld

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Pleasure Not Meating You: A Science-Based Approach to the Vegan Lifestyle (And Some Recipes, Too) 
Melody Schoenfeld 
Evil Munky Publishing, 2017

 

Veganism is disliked. Or, rather, vegans are. Quite simply, the default image many and most of us have of vegans is of a stridently unlikeable person. As Mike Israetel points out in his Foreward to Melody Schoenfeld’s vegan diet and recipe book, “Vegans in the past (and unfortunately too many in the present) have twisted and perverted the sciences of nutrition so as to make Veganism appear not only moral, but nutritionally logical from the perspective of both health and performance.” Couple this urge towards pseudo-science with Schoenfeld’s own initial and typical encounter with vegans “They were militant…and they were angry, unpleasant, pushy people” and we have pin-pointed the default setting.

However, vegans by and large are not like this (imaging them as such is lazy thinking, low-hanging fruit), and veganism is not just a practical but conscientious diet. This is what Schoenfeld strives to bring us back to–a pragmatic veganism uninterested in preaching, mockery/snobbery, or fads. She succeeds by giving readers a refreshingly candid take on veganism and how to make it work.

Make no mistake, Schoenfeld firmly believes a “vegan diet, done properly, can be just as healthy or even healthier than a non-vegan diet,” but the crux of her whole book is the word “properly.” She easily and plainly states “even the most well-planned vegan diet does need to be supplemented in order to be successful from a health standpoint.” Instead of debating or proselytizing, Schoenfeld digs into what exactly works explaining how it does as well as why and how it needs to be augmented.

Half of Pleasure Not Meating You is concerned with dispelling myths created by vegans and non-vegans alike. When it comes to diet and health, the vast majority of people are aggressively ignorant nearly always calcifying their own often irrational beliefs into dogma. For example, when trying to set the record straight on soy, Schoenfeld finds herself having to navigate an absurd Scylla and Charybdis: “It is not a ‘superfood,’ nor is it a toxic feminizing poison from the depths of hades.” Further, she uses her own experience to debunk common and lazy thinking such as “‘Yeah, But I Bet If You Ate Meat You’d Be Even Stronger.'” To which she replies, “Here’s the thing: as of the writing of this book, I hold American power-lifting records in all three lifts for my age and weight class.” Schoenfeld’s author photos show her shredding phone books and twisting metal, so to suppose her diet holds her back or amplifies her ability is nonsense. She is the type of person who will put in the work to accomplish her goals. One of those goals is to eat not just healthy but ethically. Doing so requires work, and Schoenfeld will not shy away from it nor will she leave others to fend for themselves.

Perhaps the greatest strength of Pleasure Not Meating You is its earnest point of view and plain language allowing any and all who are intrigued by veganism to approach it in a positive manner.

The second half of the book presents readers with practical action–recipes–serving the dual function of deepening the repertoire of those already into veganism and providing a simple ‘in’ for those interested enough to try it out. I wish there had been more recipes to be honest. However, Schoenfeld provides clear, clean pictures and directions for cooking that will satisfy even the most unskilled of cooks. For those possessing of more technique, these recipes provide plenty of room for variation and experimentation. Perhaps my favorite is her take on feijoada, a traditionally Brazilian dish. As someone who uses pesto as an ingredient in many dinners, I found Schoenfeld’s vegan pesto to be a satisfying change-up. Then there are her desserts and baked goods, which can always be a bit tricky. However, her ‘Blackies’ recipe (black bean brownies) have garnered a lot of positive reviews. 

By simply offering up balanced and clearly reasonable methods for anyone interested in both the ethical, social, and health aspect of a vegan diet, Melody Schoenfeld has provided readers with a superb resource. She has also done a good deal of work laying to bed misconceptions about veganism, and for that alone deserves praise.

 

Author

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Melody Schoenfeld, MA, CSCS, has been in the fitness industry for well over 20 years. She is the owner of Flawless Fitness, a small personal training center in Pasadena, CA, and Evil Munky Enterprises, a small fitness equipment manufacturing company. Melody writes and speaks nationally and internationally on various fitness topics, and holds a master’s degree in Health Psychology. Melody has held state and American records in all three lifts in powerlifting, is probably the smallest and lightest competitor you’ll ever see at a strongman competition, and regularly performs old time strongman feats of strength such as tearing phone books and bending rebar. In her free time, you’ll find her cooking unreasonable quantities of vegan food, fronting a few heavy metal bands, and telling horrible jokes.

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