Book review: Vegan Savvy

Vegan Savvy by Azmina Govindji. Pavilion Books, 2020, 176 pp; paperback, £12-99

Azmina Govindji was spurred into writing this book when her 23-year-old daughter suddenly announced that she was going vegan.  Her initial concern was whether her daughter could stay fit and healthy as a vegan.  Although the author recognised that a plant-based diet was better for the planet, she had many questions as to whether it could meet the nutritional requirements of a young women.  For example, could it provide enough calcium and iodine.  This led the author on a quest to methodically research the vegan diet, which included following the diet herself for 8 weeks. 

The book is well researched, with evidence-based facts and practical information to keep any new vegan on track.  It is clearly laid out with chapters covering potentially problematic nutrients such as energy and calcium, with checklists at the end of each chapter.  Bridges are used to show how to enrich a diet by moving from a vegan plate to a vegan savvy plate.  For example, adding fruit juice to a meal would be the nutrient bridge to increase iron absorption and adding cashew nuts to a vegetable pasta would be the nutrient bridge to increase zinc intake.    The author asks the reader to picture a vegetable, protein and carbohydrate (VVPC) plate.  The plate is split into 4 quarters, 2 for vegetables (including fruits), 1 for proteins and 1 for carbs.  This concept is similar to other plate models to aid healthy eating and is a useful way to visualise a balanced vegan diet.   

Azmina Govindji suggests that a poorly designed vegan diet can affect energy levels, physical health and overall sense of wellbeing, but all diets have their potential pitfalls and Vegan Savvy will convince readers that a vegan diet can be both tasty and appealing whilst also meeting nutritional requirements.  This book has the feel of a holistic self-help guide with the author introducing ‘thought lifters’ throughout, aimed at helping the reader to put the nutritional advice into practice.   It is a unique but pleasant introduction to vegan nutrition.

Sandra Hood

(Sandra is an NHS Diabetes Specialist Dietitian and Honorary dietary consultant to the Vegan Society and has been a vegan for more than 40 years.  This review has ben adapted from the original published in Dietetics Today, the official magazine of The Association of UK Dietitians.)

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