Dr. John McDougall’s mention of “newfangled VCRs” dates The New McDougall Cookbook as far from “new.” But the dietary information and recipes he filled it with in 1993 are as relevant today as they were 27 years ago!
The cookbook begins with his memories of being a young doctor in the 1970s. Frustrated with the ineffectiveness of the medications he’d been trained to prescribe, McDougall felt unable to help his patients.
He’d gone into medicine to prevent and reverse chronic diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. The pills, he worried, might do more harm than good.
So he needed a new approach — and as an internist, he suspected it revolved around nutrition.
When he began researching the connection between food and chronic disease, McDougall recalls, “I began to understand the complete overhaul that needed to be made in the standard American diet.”
As someone following that meat-, fat- and refined carb-heavy diet, he was well aware of its shortcomings:
“I was a little overweight, always tired, and usually constipated, and suffered from some other medical complications as well.”
So Dr. McDougall and his family began experimenting. Because of its effects on cholesterol levels, red meat was the first thing to they gave up:
“Approximately 40 percent of the cholesterol we eat is absorbed from our intestines and flows into our blood stream…. Cholesterol plays a key role in the processes that damage and weaken the arteries, thereby causing strokes and heart attacks.”
White meat was next, after the doctor discovered that “… chicken and fish contain as much cholesterol as do beef and pork.”His wife Mary became a whiz at creating egg- and cheese-based dishes. But then, he writes:
I discovered that… cheese contains as much fat and cholesterol as steak. And milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese. And ice cream can lead to a wide variety of diseases… “
So much for “Nature’s Perfect Food!”
The last to go were vegetable oils, because of their “… cancer-promoting and obesity-causing effects.”
The McDougalls needed two years to complete their vegan transition. And Dr. McDougall is well aware of the most common objection to his way of eating: not enough protein.
“The medical truth is simply put: Excess proteins, especially the kinds present in animal products, place a series burden on your health and promote many diseases. The required amount is so small that it is virtually impossible to devise a diet that contains too little to meet the nutritional needs of adults and children.”
The transition was so beneficial to McDougall and his family that he developed it into a treatment regimen. Patients enrolled in the McDougall Program would spend 10 days under medical supervision at St. Helena Hospital and Health Center, eating only healthy plant-based foods and doing moderate exercise.
“Within the first few days most have stopped taking all pills for controlling diabetes and high blood pressure; some have stopped taking all insulin and heart medications.”
The New McDougall Cookbook might be old, but its recipes have kept the authors young. Just like the enjoyment they get from knowing how the recipes will help those who come to their health center has!