A few weeks ago I was contacted by Sequel Naturals, the company behind the Vega brand, asking if I would be interested in reviewing Brendan Brazier’s new book, Thrive Foods. Brendan is a professional Ironman triathlete and the creator of Vega, a vegan whole food plant-based product line. I jumped at the chance and was really excited when it arrived in the mail.
In Thrive Foods, Brendan discusses his findings in his extensive research regarding plant-based nutrition and it’s affect on our energy levels, ability to recover post-workout, weight control, sleep patterns and the environment.
Brendan discusses in detail the importance of eating nutrient dense foods and the difference between macronutrients and micronutrients (macronutrients being carbohydrates, proteins, and fats and present in anything edible; micronutrients being vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals, antioxidants, hormones etc. and there is no guarantee that food will contain them).
A few remarks that stood out to me:
- There is no such thing as overtraining. Issues arise when you under-recover.
- North Americans are now an overfed yet undernourished society. So many consume empty calories while ignoring the nutritional content of their food.
- If eating a nutrient-dense whole foods diet, portion control isn’t necessary. Your body will tell you when it’s satisfied.
- Because of over-farming, a large percentage of our modern food supply lacks micronutrients.
Brendan shares his five Thrive guiding principles:
- Eliminate biological debt: acquire energy through nourishment not stimulation.
- Go for high-net-gain foods: make a small investment for a big return.
- Aim for a high percentage of raw and low-temperature-cooked foods.
- Choose alkaline-forming foods.
- Avoid common allergens.
Brendan also discusses the effect that food production (both crops and livestock) has on the environment, as well as on the food itself. Overproduction, genetic modification and pesticide-usage have effected the nutrient-density of our foods greatly. And according to organic-world.net, only 0.8% of the world’s total crops are grown without genetic modification and organically. Not even 1%! It’s also noted that livestock production uses 70% of all arable land (land that can be used for growing crops) and 30% of the land surface of the planet.
Included in the book are over 200 plant-based recipes and I had a list of things to make after flipping through just once. Things like a spicy lentil salad, salt and vinegar kale chips, kale and avocado salad, Indian spiced lentil burgers, and raw key lime pie…yum!
I decided to try the spicy lentil salad (from Beets Living Foods Cafe in Austin, TX) first and it did not disappoint. The flavors were great, though Reid and I both thought it tasted more like a salsa than a salad. We actually ended up scooping it up with chips! The lentils gave it a heartiness that we loved, similar to a bean salsa.
Spicy Lentil Salad, a chilled salad containing lentils, tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapenos, and cilantro.
Overall, I found Thrive Foods to be very informative. The book didn’t lead to any drastic diet changes for me but it opened my eyes to the importance of micronutrients and reaffirmed my resolve to buy organic and locally produced foods whenever possible. It obviously focuses on a vegan plant-based diet but doesn’t ‘preach’ against meat and dairy consumption.
Check out the Vega Facebook page here.
Disclaimer: I received the book Thrive Foods for free to review on my blog. As always, any opinions expressed on Will Run for Food are honest and my own.