May 2024 : Ravenous, by Henry Dimbleby

BPS Book review of Ravenous, by Henry Dimbleby.                                               May 2024


If there is one conclusion to draw from this, it’s that we are eating too much red meat it is very hard to ‘judge’ a book when there is so much important, factual and relevant stuff in it. To dislike it too strongly is to suggest that we don’t care about the issues, so there was broad consensus on the scoring.

62% (4 or 4.5)  of readers found it important AND enjoyable. The other 38% (3 or 3.5) found it important but parts of the style were irritating or confusing. Nobody awarded it a top or bottom score.

The irritations were based on a sense that this was a government report that had been rapidly turned into a book – perhaps out of frustration that it had been largely ignored?! The non-scientists amongst us were slightly baffled by the reproduction of data charts in small grayscale, and so much data at the start of the book felt a bit overwhelming, as if we were supposed to retain all this numerical information but we just couldn’t. Perhaps a ‘pick and choose’ approach using the comprehensive index would have been more accessible.

However, it’s not preachy or smug – it’s accessible and all encompassing, even if perhaps not telling us anything ground-breaking. Those with a professional interest found particular relevance in certain chapters and all of us were, I think, enlightened as to the genuine difficulty in eating fresh foods if people live in more deprived areas with lack of access to produce, quite aside from any financial constraints.

It prompted – as a non-fiction work always does – a really interesting discussion on many topics, including the role of government in enforcing health initiatives, the (unfortunate) power of big business and the need for children and young adults to be aware of these issues – by perhaps reading this book!

One of the most common ‘complaints’ was that Dimbleby did not relate it strongly enough to what we as individuals can do, going forward, to make a difference if we feel so inclined, whether that is in personal behaviour, or political activism. It was also very ‘UK’ centric, understandably so perhaps because it was originally a research work on behalf of UK government.

As always, lots of good further reading and listening was suggested so here is a list of interesting options!

Julia Enders, GUT

Bee Wilson,  The Way We Eat Now

Sean Wensley, Through A Vet’s Eyes

The Zoe podcast

Eoghan Daltun, An Irish Atlantic Rainforest

 Daniel Kahneman, Thinking Fast and Slow

July 02, 2024 by Books Scissors
Tags: book reviews

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