Book Review List

Book Review

The Scientific Basis of Vegetarianism by William Harris, MD

2013 April: The Scientific Basis of Vegetarianism is apparently no longer in print, however, you can get the whole book in pdf from. Just follow the links on Dr. Harris' web site to the info about the book, and then to the table of contents, where you can download the book chapter by chapter.

The book's back cover says that Dr. Harris has a bachelor's degree in physics, and a degree in medicine. However, unlike many of the other authors of books on "popular" nutrition who are journalists rather than nutritionists (having credentials in medicine does not mean one has credentials in nutrition), Dr. Harris backs up most of the statements he makes about nutrition -- facts, opinions, or hypothesese -- with references to credible reference texts and books and articles by the real experts in nutrition.

Dr. Harris brings together a splendid, succinct (some would say terse) overview of a vast amount of accumulated knowledge about the biochemistry of human nutrition -- but he spares us the details that would normally make delving into such subjects quite a project.

I think he was often a little too sparse, with regard to details. But the shortage of details had me itching to read many of those source texts that he referred to. Dr. Harris' thoughts, and writing style -- are provocative.

If you like science, and the pursuit of knowledge, and truth, and are concerned about your dietary choices -- I think you'll like Dr. Bill's book. Which reminds me: Dr. Bill can be scalding in his sarcasm about the assertions and actions of those who, motivated by greed, are willing to sacrifice truth.

The book is not limited to explaining scientifically-proven facts; it contains lots and lots of conjecture -- hypothesizing. Usually, the conjecture is distinguised from the facts, and some of Dr. Bill's conjectures are rather interesting -- although there are a few places where Dr. Bill presents what are arguably really conjectures, as if they were facts.

Though the book is, un-apologetically, another one of the zillions upon zillions of books that are fundamentally about why a particular diet is, in the author's opinion, "much better fer ya than the standard American diet," I liked this particular variation on the subject because, rather than, from a position of authority, trying to tell people what to eat -- which seems to be the usual approach that is taken, in books about health and diet written by medical doctors, and by others -- what Dr. Bill did was impress the reader with his general expertise -- as well as with the scope of his knowledge, his passion for acquiring knowledge, and for discerning truth, and his creative thinking ability.

If you like to respond to the concerns of non-vegans, about the suitability of a vegan diet, for human nutrition, I believe you will want to read The Scientific Basis of Vegetarianism, and I believe you will want to keep a copy of it on your bookshelf, for its reference value.

Here is a link to Dr. Harris' own information about the book, including ordering information, at Dr. Harris' web site. Dr. Harris' web site has its home page here.

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