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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

Sustain by Brooke Donoghue, Christel Dunshea-Mooij and Luuka Jones

Shifting the narrative to fit with a new sustainable and eco-friendly lifestyle seems to be the new emphasis of a lot of cooking books coming out from the ‘big names’ in cookery. Everyone seems to be attempting to change the way that they consume food - particularly meat. Everything from free range farming to abstaining from that carnivorous aspect of human history. In line with this is the plant-based diet regime. It is in this vein that Sustain fits a niche where some of New Zealand’s most well known athletes support the plant based approach.

The tagline of the book is ‘Plant-based foods for active people” and aims to fill a gap in the market and, of course, pulling in some of the Olympic Silver Medalists’ (Brooke Donoghue in the Women's Double Sculls, and Luuka in the Canoe Slalom) mates to demonstrate the feasibility of a shift to a vegetarian - or plant-based - diet. They show that making the change to a more sustainable way of life is both a healthy and ethical choice.

There is always an impressive element to cookbooks that remove a substantial food group. Whereas other books use meat as the centrepiece of a meal - and consider throughout history the importance of the meat component - Beef Wellington, Hamburgers, Casserole, Coq au vin and the humble Sunday roast to name but a sliver of the immense range of meals that have been a staple of the cook book genre. Other cookbooks tend to try to emulate these recipes but changing the meat for a plant or pulse based alternative.

The position that Sustain has taken is to not try and create what already exists in a new form, but to construct and craft new ideas that will become classics in their own right. Including some of the greats of old including the zucchini quiche slice and the reintroduction of the delicious jacket potato with its own infinite possibilities.

The book leans heavily on the psychology and the encouraging words from the three authors - two of whom are, of course, immensely celebrated sportspeople while the third (Christel Dunshea-Mooij) is a highly recognised sport nutritionist. They know what they are talking about. They’ve done the science. They understand the wants vs the requirements of a normal body functioning - as well as one at peak performance.

Little touches throughout the book are quirky - like each recipe serves a particular number of ‘athletes’ which tends to be on the more generous serving size.

But what about the taste? Our family committed to a week of plant based diets and while the pangs for meat were definitely strong, they were reduced by the range of colours and foods that we served each day. It took a little mindset shift and did cost a little more than we expected; however, as is well noted, vegetables are easy enough to grow yourself and then you have extreme cost savings. Ingredients like jack fruit are readily available but if you aren’t used to buying them then there is a bit of time to be spent in new and exciting aisles in the supermarket.

While we won’t make a shift to complete plant based diets, there are certainly a huge number of options within this world that, before this book, we were not actively including in our ‘normal’ weekly food list. For this, we are certainly grateful to the trio for their accessible and enjoyable recipe selection.

Reviewer: Chris Reed

Bateman Books

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