Friday, June 17, 2011

Book Review: 21 Day Weight Loss Kickstart

(Photo of book cover from PCRM)

When I went home over spring break in April, I bought a copy of Dr. Neal Barnard's 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart.  I have to confess, I probably wouldn't have bought this book, but I knew I was planning on hearing him speak and wanted to have him sign a copy!  So I started reading the book on my way home from Oklahoma on the airplane.  When I got back to NC, I went to his talk/book signing and had him sign a copy of his Get Healthy, Go Vegan cookbook and the 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart.  Like a star struck nerd, I froze up when I met him.  I wanted to tell him how inspired I was by his books and his PCRM recipes and website, but all I could do was tell him my name.  That was it!  I felt so lame!

(Dr. Barnard signing my book)

Dr. Neal Barnard truly amazes me.  He has published too many books to count, he travels the country speaking, he is the president of PCRM, he is a professor at George Washington University and he is always at the forefront of current discussions on veganism and health.  

(Photo of Dr. Barnard from PCRM)

Now to the book review part.  :)  I really liked this book a lot.  I like a lot of things about it, but I think what I liked the most is the simplicity of it.  Dr. Barnard does an excellent job of explaining concepts and terms in an "everyday person" kind of way.  Here were some of my favorite parts (in case you already have the book or you are planning on buying/checking out the book, I will include chapters and page numbers):

-Food that naturally tame your hunger/appetite--Chapter 2
-Glycemic Index foods--page 35
-Metabolism and food that help--Chapter 3
-Heart Healthy foods--Chapter 4
-Explaining Vitamin B12 (page 83)
-Reading food labels (pages 106-107)
-Adapting favorite recipes to make them vegan (pages 108-110)
-Restaurant suggestions and advice (pages 112-118)
-Navigating social situations (page 143)
-Fighting disease with diet (page 176)
-Fighting pain with diet (p. 198) ***Dr. Barnard has an entire book devoted to this topic***
-A brief overview of ethics and the environment (but not too much to turn someone away)--page 213

I loved that this book is truly veganism in a nutshell from the health perspective.  I know there's so much more to veganism regarding ethics, the environment and other issues, however, this is a great book for someone interested in veganism just for health reasons.  I definitely believe that reading about veganism from an ethical and environmental standpoint is very important but many people who are just interested in health and losing weight would never pick up one of those books.  If Skinny Bitch was called "Skinny Vegan" I don't think as many people would have read it.  I am not sure it would have gotten the attention and publicity that it has.  But that's just my opinion.  Many people first come to veganism for health reasons but then they read about ethical reasons later on down the road.  I am just the opposite of that.  I came to veganism because of ethical reasons (and that's still my number one reason for being vegan) but now I am very interested in veganism for health.  

The 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart helps explain veganism, guides your through the grocery store, provides an ingredients glossary, showcases some cooking techniques (I especially liked the caramelized onions without oil tutorial on pages 331-332), and the restaurant suggestions and advice.  I feel like a person who eats the SAD diet (Standard American Diet) would be able to read this book and have the confidence to jump into veganism.  They may feel a little overwhelmed just for the fact that they are switching their diet.  I know when I started Weight Watchers, I felt a little overwhelmed at first with trying to figure out all of the Points Values for foods.  But once you get the hang of it, you don't even have to think about it anymore.  I even felt the same way when I switched over to counting calories with Spark People.  It was a little stressful at first trying to get everything programmed into Spark People but now that I have most of the foods I eat programmed in, I just have to get on the computer or my phone and log it in without really thinking much about it.  I also love that if a person is confused about something, they can always go to the PCRM website and get additional information and recipes.  There's so much information out there to help a person become a healthy vegan.  I love that!

I also love that the 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart has a recipe section.  I made a list of all of the recipes that I want to try!  Some of those recipes include:

-Cuban Black Bean and Potato Soup (page 255)
-Caldo Verde (p. 256)
-Red Pepper Vinaigrette (p. 260)
-Creamy Chipotle Dressing (p. 260)
-Quinoa and Red Bean Salad (p. 261)
-Balsamic Zucchini Sandwich (p. 267)
-Jamaican Stir Fry (p. 276)
-Hakka Noodles (p. 277)
-Grilled Portabello Steaks (p. 280)
-Sundried tomato Lentil Loaf (p. 281)
-Shredded BBQ (p. 284)
-Sundried Tomato Sauce (p. 293)
-Masala Chai Apple Crisp (p. 304)

That's a list!  :)  If you haven't already read this book, I would highly recommend it.  If you have been vegan for a long time, many of the concepts you will already know but it's still a very interesting and informative book to read.  Also, if you have a friend who wants to become vegan for health reasons, this would be a great book for them.  Even though the title of the book is about losing weight, I really think it's just about reclaiming your health with a vegan diet. 


  1. Thanks for the review! I just may have to pick up a copy. Sounds good.

    I'm a vegan dieter for health reasons and ethical reasons. I think that I became vegan for mostly health reasons but am now staying vegan for mostly ethical reasons, if that makes sense! ;-)

  2. That definitely makes sense, Leah!

  3. Thank you for the review! I am going out tomorrow to buy the book! For weight loss reasons! I had to laugh when I read your words about counting weight watchers points....that it is stressful at first until you get the hang of it. Then....spark people, the same thing. Once you put in all your fav foods, it gets faster and easier. :) That is me! Been there, done all of that!

    I'm the only one in the world who can track every single morsel of food and drink for a week, walk nine miles in that week, and not loose an ounce! Then I give up and buy a 3 Musketeers and drown my sorrows. :)

    Thanks again,

  4. Hi!
    I have a question for the vegetarians/vegans. I bought the book, am still reading it and loving what I read! I have cut out meat, dairy, eggs, cheese, etc., and don't miss them.

    But...I have a serious problem since I began eating all the "good" stuff! Flatulence!!!

    Anyone else go through that? Bean-o and Gas-X do NOTHING for me! It's so embarrassing at work, and here at home. It's only my daughter and me, and the dog. The dog is the only one who can stand being around me!

    Anyone have any ideas? It seems like everything I eat causes gas, so what do I do? Quit being vegan?

  5. Just started the 21 day plan today and going to follow the menus strictly. I did some prep cooking last night to make sure I had everything prepared. When I am hungry I need to have quick food or else I will eat something I shouldn't.

    When I made the Linguine with Asparagus recipe it said 2 serviings but I got a little over 4 normal sized servings out of it. Same with the Caldo Verde.

    There is nothing really in the book about portion sizes or how much a person should eat. My husband and I are doing this together and I always wonder how are portions should be divided. The menu doesn't account for a man vs. a woman eating.

    Has anyone else wondered this?

  6. That's a good question.....I think Dr. Barnard just focuses on changing the way you eat and then just eating until you are full. He doesn't really talk about how much to eat or calories.

  7. @ Anonymous I read the book and this is why i came online to check if anyone got the answer for the same question you asked?