This book on psychedelics might convince you to drop acid

By Susannah Cahalan

Hey, magic mushrooms are still vegan.

In “How to Change Your Mind,” (Penguin Press) food journalist Michael Pollan makes psychedelics his subject du jour by offering up his own mind as a test subject. It may not be the obvious subject for the author of the modern classic “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” but stick with Pollan — this departure makes for great reading.

Pollan provides a deep dive into the history of psychedelics from Albert Hofmann’s fortuitous discovery of LSD (by accidentally taking it) in 1943 to today’s emerging psychedelic research revolution. Pollan presents the scientific case for the psychedelics: Studies show that psychedelics stop addictive behaviors and reduce symptoms of depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Most effectively he highlights the story of one NYU patient who received LSD for a study on end-of-life care and how he emerged more accepting of his terminal cancer diagnosis, considering himself to still be “the luckiest man alive.”

The book is at its most deliciously trippy when we get to experience a high-as-a-kite Pollan. We follow him shaman shopping in the Bay Area (he rejects a bear-hugging 9/11 truther). On LSD, he whispers to himself: “I don’t want to be so stingy with my feelings.”

Bad trips happen, but the book’s animating question is this: Does taking psychedelics make you a more spiritual, grounded, happier person? And should this be part of medicine’s treatment arsenal? Pollan doesn’t come down cleanly on one side, though he does leave us with his personal takeaway: “The mind is vaster, and the world ever so much more alive, than I knew when I began.”