‘Skinny’ Vegan Diet
What You Can Eat continued...
Despite the advice to eat natural, whole foods, there is a list of "acceptable" processed foods, such as Double Rainbow soy cream, Veggie Stix shoestring potato sticks, and Newman's Own organic salted round pretzels. Snack foods are included to satisfy cravings and ward off feelings of denial that the co-authors recognize is the Achilles' heel of dieters.
At times, the book seems to be more about advancing animal rights than promoting a diet. Meat is decried as "dead, rotting, decomposing flesh," dairy is dished as "toxic," and even honey from bees is banned. Pesticides, additives, artificial ingredients, and sugar ("liquid Satan") are forbidden, and blamed for all kinds of maladies.
The long list of forbidden foods includes all animal products (meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, fish), soda, beer ("for frat boys"), alcohol, caffeine, foods with chemical additives like artificial sweeteners, and anything with refined flour or sugar.
How It Works
Freedman and Barnouin are focused on changing the way people eat, with the aim of making the vegan diet the new typical American way of eating. By eating a diet free of animal products and additives, they say, you will take better care of yourself, and end up healthier and thinner.
"By avoiding all animal products, you eliminate hard-to-digest foods full of unhealthy ingredients, and eating a high-fiber vegan diet, you will be cleaned out and detoxified," Barnouin says.
Dieters are advised to wait to eat until they're nearly ravenous, to get used to the feeling of an empty stomach. They're also told to understand that "headaches, nausea, and hunger are a result of your body's cleaning itself." An entire chapter devoted to "pooping" touts the benefits of a high-fiber diet rich in plant foods.
The book also recommends cleanses and fasts, though mainstream experts generally view them as unsafe.
"Cleansing of bodily toxins does not require fasting and can be handled by the liver and kidneys in healthy adults," says physician Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD.
What the Experts Say
If you follow this strict vegan diet, you will probably lose weight because it is very low in calories. But the "Skinny" plan will be hard for many people to follow, experts say, and there's a chance you could develop nutritional deficiencies.
"This diet does not have enough nutrition guidance from expert sources to ensure the diet is balanced," says ADA spokesperson Dawn Jackson-Blatner, RD.
Experts agree that most Americans would benefit from eating a more plant-based diet. But when you eliminate all animal products, you can eliminate essential nutrients. The American Dietetic Association approves of carefully planned vegetarian and vegan diets, but recommends consulting a registered dietitian to be sure your plan meets your nutritional needs.
Blatner thinks dieters would benefit from having nutrition information and a nutrient analysis of recipes and meals, because vegetarian diets can be lacking in protein, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B12, omega 3 fatty acids, and iodine.