If you want to feel more energized, a plant-based diet can help. If you want to improve a chronic condition plant-based diets work well for many people with lifestyle conditions from cardiovascular disease to obesity.
Scientific studies are coming out every month verifying the positive effects of eating more plants, fewer animal foods, and processed foods.
Are you wondering what all the fuss about plant-based diets is about?
Here is an overview of the best plant-based diet books to help you clear up the mystery of why eating less meat is becoming so popular.
How Not to Die by Michael Greger M.D.
Dr. Michael Greger is one of the top experts on plant-based diets. He has written four comprehensive books on nutrition backed by hundreds of scientific studies.
Greger got his start in nutritional medicine when his grandmother reversed end-stage heart disease and lived another thirty-one years.
Greger’s site, Nutrition Facts breaks down thousands of studies on nutrition to answer just about any question you have on eating a whole food plant-based diet. If you are a food nerd you will love how comprehensive his books are.
This book is not only about the science behind plant-based nutrition. It is also is a practical guide with daily recommendations on specific foods and why you should have them. He manages to make the science of plant-based nutrition light and interesting.
If you need to lose weight check out How Not to Diet and the companion cookbook that goes with it. Dr. Greger compiled and distilled the information in thousands of diet studies into easy to understand language. There is a companion app you can download to your phone.
The Forks Over Knives Plan by Alona Pulde MD and Matthew Lederman MD
You might have already seen Forks Over Knives, the ground-breaking documentary on the benefits of a whole-foods plant-based diet. Eating more plants is key for reversing lifestyle diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.
If you want to put all that goodness into practice the book gives you a 4-week meal-by-meal makeover.
They have included 100 recipes and make it easy and enjoyable to make the change to a healthier diet. You can start slowly by just changing up breakfast.
Then you can gradually add lunch and dinner recipes once you become more familiar with the plant-based lifestyle.
What I like about this book is that it is user-friendly if you’re a total newbie to plant-based eating.
If you want to get started quickly and have a health concern this is the fastest book for transitioning to a healthier diet. You get plenty of inspiration to stay on course with the many positive case studies in the book and on the website.
The Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn
Rip Esselstyn is an athlete and former firefighter who noticed that a lot of firefighters he worked with were overweight. They were dying of heart attacks while off-duty much more frequently than they were dying on the job.
Inspired by his father Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr. Rip took on the challenge of changing the health of the Austin City fire department.
After helping his colleagues lose weight and lower cholesterol Esselstyn turned his ideas into several books and programs.
The Engine 2 Diet is a guide to transitioning to a plant-based diet with recipes, tips for eating out, and an exercise program to help you start a new balanced lifestyle and keep the weight off and your health optimal. This is an inspirational and very simple guide to follow for fast results.
Plant-Based Nutrition, 2E (Idiot’s Guides) by Julieanna Hever
Hever is a registered dietician and the author of numerous books on nutrition. Her Dummy’s Gide is a clear, comprehensive, guide to a healthy diet. Plant-Based Nutrition covers the health benefits, and the differences between plant-based, vegan, and vegetarian diets.
This is a great book for understanding macronutrients and supplementation on a plant-based diet.
If you have questions about plant proteins versus animal proteins look no further.
Hever also has an informative section on diet controversies like soy, raw food diets, and myths about dairy products for bone density. The special considerations section talks about plant-based pregnancy, plant-based diets for kids seniors.
There is a chapter on athletes and a chapter on weight loss. With recipes, meal plans, and nutrition charts this is a first-rate education on plant-based eating.
The China Study by T. Collin Campbell
Part one of the book The China Study covers his research, Part two covers diseases of affluence Part three is a guide to how to eat a healthy plant-based diet.
The emphasis is on eating whole foods and avoiding processed foods and animal products. Part four of the book deals with the controversy he faced with the food industry when he published the first edition of the book.
Even though The China Study is based on a study done in the 1980s and 90s it has been revised and expanded along with a cookbook and a follow-up book called Whole to defend the original research and findings.
The China Study was one of the longest nutrition studies ever conducted. There were a lot of controversies when Campbell came out with his findings. He has been a leader in the plant-based movement for over 40 years. Campbell also teaches a nutrition certification online.
Campbell grew up on a dairy farm. But after researching nutrition at Cornell University he concluded that a plant-based diet was the healthiest diet for humans.
Campbell didn’t have a plant-based agenda when he first became a scientist. He was studying protein deficiency when he stumbled upon information on dairy products and links to cancerNutritiously Complete Vegan Starter Kit by Alena and Lars
Nutritiously Is an eBook publication created by a German couple. Alena is a vegan nutritionist. Their book covers everything you need to get started on a plant-based diet. I had to include this book because of the gorgeous pictures and invitingly delicious recipes. They get into the ethics and environmental concerns more than some of the other authors.
Their offerings include the main guide, meal plans, eating healthy on a budget, losing weight effortlessly, vegan meal prep, vegan transition cheat, vegan bowls, critical nutrients sheet, restaurant guide, printable worksheets, and more. If you like to be inspired by beautiful food this is the guide for you!
The Plant-Based Solution: America’s Healthy Heart Doc’s Plan to Power Your Health by Joel Khan, MD
Dr. Khan is a cardiologist who has been vegan for over 30 years. The Plant-based Solution is an evidence-based guide with over 60 recipes that are easy to make without too many ingredients.
The first half of the book is about the health effects of leaving animal products out of your diet. The research is dense so you will love it if you are a science nerd. But there are plenty of testimonials to give you hope if you are just starting a new diet.
There are sections on cardiovascular disease, lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol, reversing cancer, autoimmune diseases, GI, and kidney systems, better aging, and more. He also covers sex drive and global warming before you even get to the recipes. The second half includes a 21-day guide to getting started. It is easy to follow and all you really need to switch to a plan
Eat for Life by Joel Fuhrman MD
Eat for Life is one of many great nutrition books by Dr. Fuhrman. He coined the term Nutritarian and came up with a system for finding and eating the most nutritious foods available. Fuhrman preaches that the foods with the highest micronutrients per calorie are veggies. He emphasizes a lot of raw salads on a daily basis as well as beans. His books focus on whole foods and staying away from processed foods.
He has developed a lot of good coping mechanisms for overcoming processed food addiction so you can stay on a healthy diet. If you find that you keep falling off the wagon and going for junk food I recommend reading Dr. Fuhrman’s books.
His recipes are simple and delicious. Fuhrman uses more nuts and seeds than some people recommend. But he has an explanation for why he includes each ingredient in his diet.
The Starch Solution by John McDougall MD
The Starch Solution is an oldie but goodie. Dr. McDougall is easy to read and understand and grounded in research. McDougall has a gift for making it easy to stick to a plant-based diet by making sure you eat enough high-quality whole foods including potatoes, rice, beans, and other starches. This is a low-fat diet like most plant-based diets.
The recipes are delicious and fast and easy to prepare. The book has three sections. The first section is about healing with a plant-based diet. The second section is about FAQs people have about plant-based diets. It covers protein, calcium, the fat vegan, supplements, salt, and sugar. The third section of the book covers the nuts and bolts of living a plant-based lifestyle.
Undo It by Dean Ornish MD
No top ten list for plant-based diet books can get by without mentioning Dean Ornish. Ornish runs the Preventative Medicine Research Institute. He treats medical conditions with diet and lifestyle and has done ground-breaking research on plant-based nutrition and disease reversal.
The Ornish Intensive Cardiac Rehabilitation Program is the first plant-based program ever to be covered by Medicare and other private insurers. Undo It covers lifestyle changes to reverse many chronic diseases rapidly. The book includes 70 recipes and 4 sections on lifestyle changes from food to exercise to stress, and relationships.
Just get started and don’t be afraid to make a mess
It doesn’t take long to learn to cook delicious plant-based meals. If you are new to cooking at home you will probably need to get a few items you don’t have around the kitchen. You don’t have to get a lot of expensive items all at once. You just need a few basics to get you started:
- A good knife and cutting board for chopping veggies
- A good stainless-steel pan for water sauté
- Various Pyrex baking dishes
- A stainless steal steamer basket and pot for whipping up fresh veggies
- A blender, Cuisinart, or food processor for making ice creams, and sauces and smoothies
- An instant pot is a great tool for making stapes like beans, rice and soups quickly and painlessly
Don’t be afraid to experiment with new recipes and exotic ingredients you haven’t tried before. Sometimes trying a new recipe can be a disaster but most of the time you will be pleasantly surprised by the results! It isn’t easy to step out of your comfort zone when it comes to food.
If you are new to plant-based eating it will be less of a shock to your system if you try one or two new recipes per week until you have a whole repertoire of menus to choose from. Try mixing and matching entrees with different side dishes until you find the most pleasing combinations.
You can experiment with adding or substituting ingredients once you have mastered a recipe.
A plant-based diet can be an extremely healthy diet if you leave out refined foods. Make sure you get enough protein and nutrients that can be lacking on a vegan diet. Most doctors recommend that you supplement B12, D3, and essential fatty acids if you don’t eat animal products.