a RAWky road

Food, health and fitness advice while vegan in a sad, S.A.D world.


Books What Make You Go “Hmmm…” – A Vegan/ Raw Vegan Library

Over the years I’ve collected books that showcase a plant-based diet, as well as educate me on the realities of nutrition, health, athletic performance, the environment and animal rights. There are so many new books on the subject of veganism and/or raw veganism that I would like to get, but truthfully I have plenty of reading material that remains unread that I would like to get through before going on an Amazon shopping spree.

Regardless, here is my vegan/ raw vegan library. In all honesty, some are more engaging than others, but they are all very inspiring and educational. When in doubt get The China Study by T. Colin Cambell, Ph.D. & Thomas M. Campbell II, MD.


Becoming Vegan – Davis Melina

This is the first edition of the most essential guide on plant-based nutrition available, there is a newer edition that came out in 2013 that I do not own. The authors of The New Becoming Vegetarian explore the benefits of a vegan diet (eating without meat, eggs or dairy products). More people are realizing the impact of their nutritional choices on their health, the environment, animal rights, and human hunger.

As registered dietitians, Davis and Melina are well-qualified to provide information on how a vegan diet can protect against chronic illnesses, how to obtain all the protein and calcium you need without meat or dairy products, as well as the importance of Vitamin B12 and good fats in vegan diets. They also show how to construct balanced diets for infants through seniors, offer pregnancy and breast-feeding tips for vegan moms, advise on how to achieve optimal weight, and give tips on how to deal gracefully with a non-vegan world.

The 80/10/10 Diet – Dr. Douglas N. Graham

Dr. Douglas Graham, a lifetime athlete and twenty-seven year raw fooder, is an advisor to world-class athletes and trainers from around the globe. He has worked professionally with top performers from almost every sport and every field of entertainment. After more than 5 years of intensive work the definitive guide to the 80/10/10 Diet is here. If you have struggled with staying raw, would like to lose weight, or change your life for the better, look no further than this groundbreaking book.

The China Study – T. Colin Cambell, Ph.D. & Thomas M. Campbell II, MD

There is no negotiating the ownership of this book. It’s a nutritional bible, vegan or not, get it!

Even today, as trendy diets and a weight-loss frenzy sweep the nation, two-thirds of adults are still obese and children are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, typically an “adult” disease, at an alarming rate. If we’re obsessed with being thin more so than ever before, why are Americans stricken with heart disease as much as we were 30 years ago?

In The China Study, Dr. T. Colin Campbell details the connection between nutrition and heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. The report also examines the source of nutritional confusion produced by powerful lobbies, government entities, and opportunistic scientists. The New York Times has recognized the study as the “Grand Prix of epidemiology” and the “most comprehensive large study ever undertaken of the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease.”

The China Study is not a diet book. Dr. Campbell cuts through the haze of misinformation and delivers an insightful message to anyone living with cancer, diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and those concerned with the effects of aging.

Nutrition and Athletic Performance – Dr. Douglas N. Graham

Whether you are a seasoned athlete or just getting started with a fitness program, Nutrition and Athletic Performance is your guide to success. Discover what athletes from every sport around the world have been using to set personal bests. Learn what to eat before, during and after activity to yield the best performance. And discover how to attain freedom from costly supplements. Gain better recovery times from activities. And finally learn the truth about carbs, fats, and proteins.

Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease – Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD

Based on the groundbreaking results of his twenty-year nutritional study, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn  illustrates that a plant-based, oil-free diet can not only prevent the progression of heart disease but can also reverse its effects.  Dr. Esselstyn is an internationally known surgeon, researcher and former clinician at the Cleveland Clinic and a featured expert in the acclaimed documentary Forks Over Knives.Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease has helped thousands across the country, and is the book behind Bill Clinton’s life-changing vegan diet.

The proof lies in the incredible outcomes for patients who have followed Dr. Esselstyn’s program, including a number of patients in his original study who had been told by their cardiologists that they had less than a year to live. Within months of starting the program, all Dr. Esselstyn’s patients began to improve dramatically, and twenty years later, they remain free of symptoms.

Complete with more than 150 delicious recipes perfect for a plant-based diet, the national bestseller Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease explains the science behind the simple plan that has drastically changed the lives of heart disease patients forever. It will empower readers and give them the tools to take control of their heart health.

The World Peace Diet – Will Tuttle, Ph.D.

Food is our most intimate and telling connection both with the living natural order and with our living cultural heritage. By eating the plants and animals of our earth, we literally incorporate them. It is also through this act of eating that we partake of our culture’s values and paradigms at the most primal levels. It is becoming increasingly obvious, however, that the choices we make about our food are leading to environmental degradation, enormous human health problems, and unimaginable cruelty toward our fellow creatures.

Incorporating systems theory, teachings from mythology and religions, and the human sciences, The World Peace Diet presents the outlines of a more empowering understanding of our world, based on a comprehension of the far-reaching implications of our food choices and the worldview those choices reflect and mandate. The author offers a set of universal principles for all people of conscience, from any religious tradition, that they can follow to reconnect with what we are eating, what was required to get it on our plate, and what happens after it leaves our plates.

The World Peace Diet suggests how we as a species might move our consciousness forward so that we can be more free, more intelligent, more loving, and happier in the choices we make.

The Food Revolution – John Robbins

First published in 2001, The Food Revolution is still one of the most frequently cited and talked about books of the food-politics revolution. It was one of the very first books to discuss the negative health effects of eating genetically modified foods and animal products of all kinds, to expose the dangers inherent in our factory farming system, and to advocate a complete plant-based diet.

Diet for a New America – John Robbins

Since the 1987 publication of Diet for a New America, beef consumption in the United States has fallen a remarkable 19%. While many forces are contributing to this dramatic shift in our habits, Diet for a New America is considered to be one of the most important. Diet for a New America is a startling examination of the food we currently buy and eat in the United States, and the astounding moral, economic, and emotional price we pay for it.

In Section I, John Robbins takes an extraordinary look at our dependence on animals for food and the inhumane conditions under which these animals are raised. It becomes clear that the price we pay for our eating habits is measured in the suffering of animals, a suffering so extreme and needless that it disrupts our very place in the web of life.

Section II challenges the belief that consuming meat is a requirement for health by pointing our the vastly increased rate of disease caused by pesticides, hormones, additives, and other chemicals now a routine part of our food production. The author shows us that the high health risk is unnecessary, and that the production, preparation, and consumption of food can once again be a healthy process.

In Section III, Robbins looks at the global implications of a meat-based diet and concludes that the consumption of the resources necessary to produce meat is a major factor in our ecological crisis.

Diet for a New America is the single most eloquent argument for a vegetarian lifestyle ever published. Eloquently, evocatively, and entertainingly written, it is a cant put down book guaranteed to amaze, infuriate, but ultimately educate and empower the reader. A pivotal book nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction in 1987.

The Starch Solution – John A. McDougall, MD

From Atkins to Dukan, fear of the almighty carb has taken over the diet industry for the past few decades—even the mere mention of a starch-heavy food is enough to trigger an avalanche of shame and longing. But the truth is, carbs are not the enemy. Now, bestselling author John A. McDougall, MD, and his kitchen-savvy wife, Mary, prove that a starch-rich diet can actually help readers lose weight, prevent a variety of ills, and even cure common diseases. By fueling the body primarily with carbohydrates rather than proteins and fats, readers will feel satisfied, boost energy, and look and feel their best.

Including a 7-Day Sure-Start Plan, helpful weekly menu planner, and nearly 100 delicious, affordable recipes, The Starch Solution is a groundbreaking program that will help readers shed pounds, improve their health, save money, and change their lives.

Sunfood Traveler – John McCabe

In Sunfood Traveler, John McCabe, a leading authority on the plant-based diet, ghost co-author of some of the most popular raw food books, and author of “Sunfood Living,” “Sunfood Diet Infusion,” and “Igniting Your Life,” offers a state-by-state and country-by-country guide for those seeking information on raw food restaurants, chefs, retreats, businesses, and Web sites, and on natural food stores and farmers’ markets. In addition to a variety of recipes, this excellent reference contains chapters covering brain and deep cell nutrition, yoga, living a green lifestyle, organic gardening, slow food, non-toxic households, sustainable products, alternative energy, and the restoration, preservation, and protection of the environment, wildlife, wildlands, and water sources. Every natural food store and vegetarian restaurant should carry copies of this book.

Sunfood Diet Infusion – John McCabe

Sunfood Diet Infusion details a variety of reasons why a diet that is vegan and all – or nearly all – raw is vastly more healthful than what has become the Standard American Diet (“SAD diet”) of processed, chemical-laden, nutrient-deficient, disease-inducing, plasticized, mass-marketed corporate foods. Topics covered include the environmentally ruinous meat and dairy industries; the toxicity of farming chemicals; the benefits of organic gardening and locally-grown foods; the growing interest in permaculture; whole body nutrition; disease reversal; brain plasticity; maintaining vibrancy; the myths and truths of veganism; and the strong connection between global health and humanity’s food choices. A helpful kitchen set-up and sample recipe section completes the book. McCabe’s books are collectively a revelation from someone told twenty years ago that he would die from kidney failure if he didn’t undergo a transplant, and that he would never be physically active without undergoing back surgery to fuse several vertebra and implant iron rods along his spine. Defying doctors, McCabe instead transformed his health through exercise and changing his diet to one free of animal protein and fried foods, but one that is rich in fruits and vegetables. The Sunfood Diet is not about measuring foods, counting calories, meal plans, or processed and packaged diet foods. Instead, it is abundant in natural, vibrant foods that infuse health: fresh, organic produce. At a time when diabetes, obesity, and heart disease are rampant in modern society, and when most people get their nutrition education from corporate food commercials, this book offers a refresher course in why truly healthful food really is important – for people, wildlife, and the environment. If you desire to experience truly vibrant health, read this book.

Raw Food Contraversies – Frederic Patenaude

“The Biggest Raw Food Controversies Finally Exposed and Debunked…. Discover How to Increase Energy, Strengthen Digestion and Avoid Dangerous Deficiencies” Frederic Patenaude decided to become a raw-foodist in 1996, but after just two years on the diet, his health was falling apart. He thought he was on the best diet in the world, but a mysterious ailment struck him and left him crippled in bed for a month. Since that dreadful experience, Frederic kept searching for the ideal diet. After 14 years, he’s ready to reveal it all and expose some of the most well-kept secrets of the raw-food movement that other raw-food leaders don’t want you to know. Raw Food Controversies demolishes common raw-food myths and establishes useful guidelines for healthy eating. In this book, the author describes his tumultuous years of trial and error with the raw food diet, and the multiple health problems caused by eating raw the wrong way, while providing useful lessons he’s learned along the way. Bringing common sense, science and sanity to the raw food movement, Raw Food Controversies answers important questions that have been avoided for too long. It will be of interest to anyone wishing to improve their health, particularly vegans and raw foodists. In it, you will discover: • What are the top three foods you should NEVER eat raw (and why) • The 6 toxic supplements you should never take (and which ones are useful) • The 100% raw diet vs. the mostly raw diet • What raw-foodists should know about DHA and other essential fatty acids: can you get them on a raw vegan diet? • Superfoods exposed! What you need to know raw cacao, honey, green juice, green powder, coconut oil, agave nectar, acai, spirulina, maca, goji berries, seaweed, and more! * And more!

Igniting Your Life – John McCabe

“Both timeless and timely, I believe Igniting Your Life holds the promise of being a limitless resource of hope and inspiration.” – Cherie Soria, founder and director Living Light International, RawChef.com “Igniting Your Life is a book written by an independent thinker for independent thinkers. Or, chances are, you will certainly be one by the time you have finished reading it. John has a penetrating and comprehensive view of the numerous ways in which we can all safeguard not only our own health but also, by extension, the health of the environment and the other people and life forms we share it with. To put it simply, he knows what really matters. The huge collection of great quotations that fill his latest book are reason enough to read it, but if we choose to actively ignite our lives in the ways that John suggests, our enhanced energy and clarity will enable us to do more good in this world and also to be a lot happier in the process.” – Angela Starks and Michael Stein, Yoga In The Raw, New York.


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Me, Myself and Salt

There is a big difference between salt (aka: sodium chloride) and sodium, yet many people have never heard of such distinction.

Common salt is a mineral substance composed primarily of sodium chloride, a chemical compound belonging to the larger class of ionic salts. Salt elevates our blood pressure. Raised blood pressure (hypertension) is the major factor which causes strokes, heart failure and heart attacks.  There is also increasing evidence of a link between high salt intake and stomach cancer, osteoporosis, obesity, kidney stones, kidney disease and vascular dementia and water retention. Salt can also exacerbate the symptoms of asthma, Ménière’s disease and diabetes


On the other hand, sodium is a chemical element that the body uses to control blood pressure and blood volume. Sodium is also needed for your muscles and nerves to work properly. Our cells rely on a regulated ratio of sodium and potassium, with sodium residing outside the cells (extracellular) and potassium inside the cell (intracellular). When the sodium and potassium levels in your diet are well balanced, they work to keep a healthy amount of water inside and outside of your cells, including your blood. In addition, the electrolyte characteristics of salt and potassium permit the proper conduction of electricity you need to keep your heart beating properly.

Low sodium in the blood can lead to what is called hyponatremia.  Signs of hyponatremia are fatigue, seizures, muscle spasms, confusion and coma.  Sodium deficiency is usually caused by vomiting, diarrhea, drinking excessive fluid (especially water), and excessive sweating.  It is rarely caused by lack of sodium in the diet.

SaltEffectsSo, why do I bring this up? I was going through photos from last year and I came across a picture of the direct impact my body had after a high salt meal (damn you gourmet raw cuisine). As you can see, my right foot is swollen while my left foot remains normal. I was quite alarmed when I woke up to find my feet in this condition and research on the interwebs has led me to believe that this was a sodium toxicity inflicted edema (awesome). It was not a pleasant experience, in fact it was rather painful. I couldn’t walk very well and had to keep it elevated. I drank liters upon liters of water to try to flush the excess salt out of my system and within a couple of days I was back to normal.

As a result, I try very hard to not consume salt. In truth, sometimes there’s no avoiding it… especially when eating at any restaurant or consuming previously prepared packaged foods. Unfortunately, we live in a time where salt is added to just about everything and consequently it deadens our taste buds’ ability to sense sweet, sour, or bitter (which is why salt users often say that food is flavorless without salt).

True, we need minerals, but we need to ingest them in the quantities and the form in which they occur in whole plant foods. Eating a variety of vegetables, especially celery and tomatoes, provides all the organic salts and other minerals our bodies need in just the right amounts and combinations we require. 

I won’t tell you what to do with your body, how much salt to consume, sodium, potassium, the works. But I do think it is important to educate yourself on what you put into you body if you are interested in preventing potentially life-threatening diseases down the line. I understand that doing your own research and investigation can be cumbersome, let alone changing your diet completely (albeit for the best), but don’t you think your life is worth it?







The 80/10/10 Diet – Dr. Douglas N. Graham