I've never picked up a book for Idiots or Dummies before, but know that books so labeled are wildly popular. The intention is good: introduce an intimidating topic in a friendly, simple way. I like the summaries at the end of each chapter that point out "the least you need to know." The book covers basic nutrition: what are carbohydrates, protein, and oils ... and why should we care? Ditto for vitamins and micronutrients. The book's author, Julieanna Hever, recommends a vegan, whole-food diet and is endorsed by Dr. Neal Barnard, with an introduction by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study.
But perhaps because this book is for idiots, it glosses over controversial topics without backing. In the Controversy Clarified chapter, Hever writes that no conclusive evidence supports fears about soy products causing problems with sexual development and that "Most experts are confident in recommending soy-based forumulas." I'd really like to see some footnotes for this statement.
Even more worrisome is the casual attitude towards getting enough protein. The book claims that "When you eat whole-plant foods, you autoamtically and effortlessly strike the perfect balance" between carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Further, "If you're eating enough calories from whole foods, having a diet too low in protein is impossible." I track the protein in the Cook for Good menus and know that it is very possible to be low in protein. During my own attempt to go vegan, I fell for the "all foods have protein" line and didn't get enough protein. I did enjoy many delicious meals such as sweet-potato stew on brown rice with greens, but not beans, and tomato sauce on whole-grained pasta with broccoli.