Julieanna Hever Delivers a Delicious Journey To Blue Waters and Health-Enhancing Foods
Julieanna Hever, the plant-based dietitian, takes the Mediterranean diet to its highest level of taste and health in her book The Vegiterranean Diet. She gives you several books wrapped into one: a Mediterranean diet history, a colorful travelogue, an overview of required nutrients and how to get them, a guide to stocking your kitchen and making healthy cooking more convenient, and more than sixty extraordinary Vegiterranean recipes. The book is entertaining, informative, and compelling, with unexpected discoveries in every chapter.
Julieanna clarifies how the Mediterranean diet has changed since early research in Crete, when only 7% of calories came from animal products. Today, however, many have come to see this diet as reliant on fish, olive oil, cheese, and wine. This way of eating, as it is currently thought of, has been found to be an improvement on a standard American diet built on such staples as hot dogs, fries, and donuts. However, a comparison to the health-wrecking standard American diet is a low bar to pass.
Starting from the fact that the original Mediterranean diet was a whole foods, plant-based way of eating, Julieanna gives clear guidance on how and why you should take this lifestyle all the way to its peak. You keep all the flavor and enjoyment, with a variety of recipes with appealing ingredients such as sun-dried and fresh tomatoes, olives, lemon juice, vinegars, nutritional yeast, basil, rosemary, oregano, mint, garlic, tea, fruits, seeds, nuts, lentils, chickpeas, and eggplant.
What I like best about The Vegiterranean Diet is the way the author’s passions and life journey are so
intertwined with the Mediterranean food and lifestyle. I wanted to know more, and was fortunate to get Julieanna’s insights and thoughts into the making of this book.
I first asked Julieanna how she fell in love with the Mediterranean and its food, and got a ready answer. “I grew up loving Italian food and having a crush on all things Italian. I also was an actress with a passion for theatre for many years. I studied and performed a lot of Shakespeare and my fantasy role – which I so badly wanted to and finally had the opportunity to tackle – was Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, who, of course, lived in Verona, Italy. So I gravitated towards the food in that region. I always say that I am Italian at heart (just not by blood). When I discovered more of the Middle-Eastern Mediterranean-styled foods, such as my all-time favorite dishes, hummus , baba ganoush, stuffed vegetables, sensational salads, soups, and stews I was hooked. One of the many goals of The Vegiterranean Diet was to create oil-free, vegan versions of my preferred cuisine.”
I wondered how Julieanna gathered the enlightening, and often surprising, information she uses to shred myths about her preferred eating plan. She responded ” I spent many months delving into everything from ancient Greek literature to old books by Ancel Keys. And, of course, I dug into hundreds of primary research articles. I also interviewed a few colleagues and mentors who had previously tackled pieces of data from multiple unique angles. I am not sure I knew quite how big the can of worms I
opened was going to be, but it kept on expanding. One of my favorite sayings – and this perfectly sums up my research for this book – is that the more you learn, the more you learn to have to learn.”
For Julieanna, the most challenging aspect of writing The Vegiterranean Diet was demonstrating the nutritional truth about olive oil. “Much of the research supports the advantages of including olive oil, yet I could not conceive of the fact that there is the possibility of a superfood making or breaking an entire dietary pattern’s success. I really had to dig deep and my conclusions are very open-minded and broadly based. It is heretical to extract the leading actor from the show…but I explain why I believe it is optimal (and to whom it may not be necessary) to minimize or eliminate oil in a health-promoting diet.”
We got into the subject of why there are so many myths about the Mediterranean diet. “Specifically the reason these foods are hot commodities is because the food industry has idolatrized them and assigned more credit to them than what they truly deserve. If you look at the forest instead of the trees, it is apparent that the dietary pattern is more significant than the individual food items. I attribute five reasons for the success of the Mediterranean diet: that is a whole food, plant-based diet, the synergy involved, the inclusion of physical activity and lifestyle factors, the lower caloric consumption, and the delicious food.”
Julieanna shared the number one takeaway she most wants readers to remember. ” All of the research we know of in totality points to a whole food, plant-based diet as being the number one most effective way of eating for optimal health. Despite the fact that the traditional Mediterranean diet includes small amounts of animal products, we are at a crucial time in our planet’s life where we no longer can sustain
the consumption of them at the rate at which we are doing so. We need a massive shift in consciousness and I hope this book inspires some people to recognize and execute these changes.”
To further this transformative goal, Julieanna shares openly about her own journey to a plant-based diet throughout her book. This was not easy to do. “I feel raw, naked, and vulnerable! But, I have already had people come to me because they have connected with these thoughts and experiences and relate to them on a deeper level….and for that, it is entirely worth it. My passion is reconnecting people to the love of food and its purpose as nourishment, pleasure, and protection. ”
So enjoy a multidimensional journey to a land of sun and blue waters, as you read The Vegiterranean Diet and feast on irresistible recipes prepared in your own kitchen.
If you enjoyed this post, you may want to learn more about why fish, another food routinely associated with the modern Mediterranean diet, is dangerous and unappetizing.
Intrigued? Now you can use our Whole Foods Blog Finder to target informative, fun postings on whole foods, plant-based diets. Quick information at no cost!
Blog posting by Janice Stanger, Ph.D. Janice authored The Perfect Formula Diet: How to Lose Weight and Get Healthy Now With Six Kinds of Whole Foods, a book that shows you how to discover a whole foods, plant-based way of eating. Janice also loves hummus and exploring warm seas.