Review of Eating Plant-based by Dr Shireen Kassam and Dr Zahra Kassam with Dr Barbara Phipps
By Dr Barbara Phipps, GP with special interest in Lifestyle Medicine and Trustee of BSLM
11th Apr, 2022
I am delighted to review “Eating Plant-Based” by Dr Shireen Kassam and Dr Zahra Kassam. These medical sisters who work on either side of The Pond have impeccable credentials and they have clearly done their research. I am an NHS GP and like Shireen and Zahra I have a real passion for Lifestyle Medicine and share the strong belief that we all need to eat better to improve our health.
However, full disclosure; I’m a “flexitarian” and enjoy some non-processed animal foods. Therefore, reading this book was always likely to push me slightly out of my comfort zone although I firmly believe this is a good thing!
Interestingly, just prior to reading “Eating Plant-based” I finished reading “Metabolical” by Dr Robert Lustig. It was fascinating to compare the two books. Robert Lustig’s theory is that it’s not the food, it’s what has been done to the food i.e., food processing which is the main problem and like Shireen and Zahra he has methodically trawled through the evidence. The opinions expressed by the authors do not always align, however it was interesting to note the considerable degree of agreement.
There are many acknowledged challenges in nutrition research. “Association is not causation” and “relative risk is not absolute risk” etc. Consistency in interpreting the data in a balanced, unbiased way is key and I think Zahra and Shireen, who openly favour Whole Food Plant-Based (WFPB), have done very well in this regard. They have presented the information in a well written question and answer format which is easy to follow and very comprehensive. There are still many uncertainties to be resolved and yet despite this, an evidence-based consensus of thought is starting to emerge with WFPB minimally processed food looking like a front runner for the title of “Healthiest”. This progression is in no small part down to the dedicated work of clinicians such as Shireen and Zahra. Certainly, their book has spurred me on to further embrace a WFPB lifestyle (still with a flexitarian slant!) and I would highly recommend the book to others who are keen to understand what we should be eating and why.