We’ve all been told never to judge a book by its cover, but in the case of Meghan Telpner’s recently released book, “UnDiet”, the hot pink, sans-serif cover tells you exactly what you’re getting into. If, at first glance, you couldn’t tell what the ensuing 200-plus pages hold, the rainbow-colored claim to be “the shiny, happy, vibrant, gluten-free, plant-based way to look better, feel better, and live better each and every day” is stated out right on the cover.
If you are a middle-aged female looking for a shiny, happy book with agave-coated nutritional facts and obtuse sexual references to feel better than “UnDiet” is absolutely the book for you. If, like me, words like “awesometown” and “barfiest” make you want to stand on a soap box with nothing but a dictionary, then perhaps we aren’t quite ready for the “UnDiet” challenge yet.
Telpner’s book begins with her personal story, an elimination of processed foods and stressors enabling her to overcome her diagnosis with Crohn’s disease. Telpner makes it seem easy to quit your job and essentially, your life style, for the sake of your health. In theory, she is correct—what a world it would be if working people actually put their health first! And, perhaps a diagnosis as severe as Crohn’s disease is enough of a push to make someone dramatically alter their lifestyle, but for the average person just looking to lose a few or feel a little healthier, Telpner’s 8-week meal-by-meal plan could either be exactly what they need or, in my case, way too intense. I am looking for the in-between, for someone to tell me how I can eat salad most of the time and then have Mexican food and ice cream in the same night some of the time. However, if you happen to be looking for a big life change, then perhaps “UnDiet” is for you.
That being said, Telpner has developed some tasty-sounding recipes including “love me or leave me cinnamon rolls” made with butternut squash and various flours like brown rice, buckwheat, and arrowroot, and veggie rice wraps which are delicate and beautiful. She also notes that feeling healthy isn’t only about what we put in our bodies, but also what we put on them in her chapter devoted to make-up replacements and organic, DIY face washes.
While I was unable to follow the full 8-week plan that Telpner lays out, for a very noble two weeks I began every day with her suggestion of a tall glass of water spiked with the juice of half a lemon, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. While some of my colleagues shivered at the thought of drinking cayenne flavored water, I actually quite enjoy the rush of spicy foods—maybe to a fault. I didn’t find the drink cleansing or energizing, but I did enjoy the routine of starting off my day with this libation and the challenge of finishing it by the time I got to work proved to be a good way to get in an extra 16 ounces of water every day.
Ultimately, Telpner’s book is nothing less than fabulous in a very serious and, simultaneously, very sarcastic way—I am simply not the right audience. While I don’t plan to use her 8-week gluten-free lifestyle changing plan anytime soon, it will certainly be in the forefront of my mind if ever I am looking for one. In the meantime I’m going to try some love me or leave me cinnamon rolls!
Liz Traison is a graduate of The University of Michigan where she received a BA in History and Judaic Studies. She also studied at Midreshet Lindenbaum and Hebrew University. She is thrilled to be a Program Associate at Hazon and also to be doing social justice programming for MASA Alumni. She likes being outside, particularly on Skeleton Lake. And also being inside, specifically doing creative workshops in prison.