Best vegan books for beginners

Best vegan books for beginners

Ok so you may have noticed a common theme that we reiterate throughout our posts. It’s something that we would encourage in general in all aspects of our life and that is to keep informed and educated. We get so many questions about vegan nutrition, vegan ethics, plant based nutrition, vegan recipes and of course so much more.

We would love to be able to answer all of these questions if not in person then on our blog. Maybe in the future we will but until then we thought we should put together our list of the best vegan books for beginners available today.

They are in no particular order and I absolutely recommend all of the books on the list and have read all of them bar one, some many times over. So, read through our list and hopefully you will find your best vegan book for beginners



plant based nutrition bookPlant-Based Nutrition Second Edition (idiots guide) – Julieanna Hever and Raymond J. Cronise


This is at the top of my list not simply because it was my most recent purchase but because it gives a great insight in to how and why a plant based diet is beneficial for our health. This is the second edition and co-authored by Ray Cronise whose work I have followed over the past few years.

Ray is a former Nasa scientist whose current focus is on disrupting diet and nutrition advice. He has been working with leading academic researchers to publish peer reviewed work on health span and plant based diets. His focus on nutrition started after his own type 2 diabetes diagnosis something he has reversed on a plant based diet.

Julieanna Hever is a well published registered dietitian specializing in weight management, disease prevention and sports nutrition. I absolutely love this book. Ray and Julianna have done an amazing job translating complex and scientific-based information into simple, easy to understand language.

This book really can revolutionise the way the you look at food. The book has four sections. Section one explores all of the evidence as to why it is better to eat a whole food, plant-based diet. The second section gives guidelines on how to live a plant-based lifestyle.

The third section focuses on “special considerations” such as how children, athletes and the elderly should eat. There is also a chapter about weight loss and the cutting-edge approach that they take. The final section gives a range of great recipes as well as tips for eating out and how you should stock your kitchen.

So, best vegan book for beginners, well although not strictly a vegan book if I had to recommend a single book that can explain why a plant based diet is essential for optimum health then this would be it.


vegan for life bookVegan for Life – Jack Norris and Virginia Messina


I bought this book when it was first published back in 2011 not long after adopting a plant based diet. It was one of the books that helped reinforce my understanding that a plant based in fact a vegan diet can be beneficial for health. Written by Jack Norris and Virginia Messina both registered dieticians it is a really good book to put to rest any concerns anyone may have about adopting a vegan lifestyle.

It looks at all of the myths surrounding plant based diets and scientifically debunks them. The first few chapters provide thorough explanations of the nutrients you need and why you need them. They look in detail at any areas where supplementation may be required and their explanation as to why vegans should take a B-12 supplement is one of the best I’ve read.

They also address the usual concerns such as protein levels and discuss the soy controversy. There are chapters about being vegan whilst pregnant, breastfeeding, being an athlete and a vegan food guide section in which they lay out a vegan food pyramid and give some sample menus. This section can be extremely helpful for someone just changing to a vegan diet to help them plan their meals and alleviate any concerns they may have about getting enough nutrients.

What I particularly like when I first read Vegan For Life was how balanced their view is. I would recommend this book to anyone who is newly vegan or thinking of going vegan to help them understand that eating vegan is not only healthy its actually pretty easy.


The china study bookThe China Study – T Colin Campbell and Thomas M Campbell


The China Study is the result of one of the most comprehensive studies undertaken on the link between human health and nutrition. This 20-year study was started in the 1970’s by nutrition researcher T. Colin Campbell and his team at Cornell working in partnership with the University of Oxford in the UK and Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine in China.

The study analyses the long-term relationship between the diets, lifestyles and health of various cultures around the world. The results confirmed without doubt the link between a range of diseases and the consumption of a diet high in animal products. It also shows the unparalleled health benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet.

In 2005 Colin Campbell and his son Thomas Campbell a physician, shared these findings in The China Study a book which is now used to promote the unparalleled benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet. The China Study is another book that I come back to regularly for reference.

For me it is a must for any vegan or for any one on a plant based diet who wants scientific facts about the benefits of their diet. It isn’t always the easiest read and for that reason I recommend reading slowly and coming back to revisit sections.


how not to die bookHow not to die – Michael Gregor MD


Well if nothing else this book probably has the most stand out title of any on my list of best vegan books for beginners!  Dr. Michael Greger, is both nutrition expert and physician. Notably he is the founder of the NutritionFacts.org website the first science-based, non-commercial website that has up-to-date and sometimes ground-breaking information on nutrition.

In How Not to Die he looks at the fifteen top causes of premature death in America and explains how nutrition and lifestyle play a major part in their development. He explores how a change in diet and lifestyle can help prevent and reverse these diseases. He includes an interesting list of foods that he calls the “daily dozen” that we should all be consuming on a daily basis for optimal health.

As you would expect the information is science based, up to date and importantly it’s easy to read. What I really like about How Not To Die is that it gives practical, actionable advice and is must-read for anyone wanting to understand the relationship between food and health.

Proteinaholic bookProteinaholic – Garth Davis MD


I had to include Proteinaholic on my list of best vegan books for beginners. I know when I first told my friends, particularly those at the gym, that I was thinking of adopting a 100% plant based diet, all I was asked is, but where will you get your protein from?

This protein obsession continues unabated. Not just with gym goers but also doctors, personal trainers, chefs and of course in the media. Protein had become an industry to itself.

Proteinaholic is written by Dr Garth Davis the medical director of the Davis Clinic at Houston’s Methodist Hospital.  Working on a daily basis with large numbers of sick and overweight patients it wasn’t until he had his own health scare that he started to explore the root causes of the problem.

Utilising his years of experience with patients and combing it with science-backed studies of the longest-living populations, Proteinaholic shows us that excess protein not only isn’t beneficial for our health it could actually be making us sick.

This is a great book for all those concerned about protein (and a great gift for sceptical friends!). It includes a wealth of scientific data and research as well as a personal narrative that creates a compelling expose of one of the biggest nutritional lies we are told today.



becoming vegan bookBecoming Vegan – Brenda David and Vesanto Melina


I have heard Becoming Vegan called the “Encyclopaedia” of vegan nutrition. Certainly, Becoming Vegan provides everything you need to know about staying healthy on a vegan diet. Written by dietitians Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina Becoming Vegan really is a single source for all of the nutritional aspects of veganism.

The opening chapter however is different from the rest of the book as it focuses on the impact of animal agriculture on the environment, and looks at many of the unethical practices that occur in the industry. The remainder of this 604-page book dedicates itself to the exploration of the health benefits of a vegan diet compared to other dietary choices.

This is something that it does comprehensively, citing studies and looking at just about every nutrient there is and how it effects your body. Nutritional guidelines are provided for all ages and a section is devoted to how to achieve and maintain exceptional fitness on a vegan diet.

There are excellent tables and graphs that illustrate each section making them easy to understand as well as a daily eating plan and sample menus. If you want a single source that will help you understand the nutritional needs of your body and that can be used as a handy reference at any time throughout your vegan journey then I thoroughly recommend Becoming Vegan.


The forks over knives plan bookThe Forks over Knives Plan – Alona Pulde and Matthew Lederman


I loved Forks over Knives it is one of my favourite documentaries. Then I saw that doctors Alona Pulde and Matthew Lederman, two of the creators of the documentary, were writing a plan to help transition to a whole-foods, plant-based diet in just twenty-eight days. I thought it would be the perfect gift for a close friend just about to embark on her vegan journey and so it proved to be.

In The Forks Over Knives Plan they have created an easy-to-follow, step-by-step meal makeover plan to make the transition to a plant based lifestyle simple and easy. You start with a whole food plant based breakfast the first week. You add a whole food plant based lunch in week two and a whole food plant based dinner in week three.

There are simple recipes, meal plans and shopping lists and even tips on how to eat and snack healthily on the go. They don’t worry about individual nutrients but place far greater importance on variety and abundance ignoring common fads like counting macros and calories.

I really dislike diet plans but the Forks Over Knives Plan is a superb resource to help guide you towards a new lifestyle. If you are already vegan and experienced then there may be other books that I would recommend first. However, for anyone just starting their journey then the Forks Over Knives Plan has to be on my list of best vegan books for beginners.


Straight Up Food BookStraight Up Food – Cathy Fisher


I knew that I should include at least one cookbook on my list of best vegan books for beginners, but which one to choose?. I am very lucky in many respects, in the first instance Ivonne is a great cook and my role is to eat the food and clear up afterwards! Also, we have a range of great vegan and plant based cookbooks so to choose one in particular isn’t easy.

In the end, I have gone for Cathy Fishers Straight Up Food as it is the one cookbook I use when allowed in the kitchen. Cathy has thrived on a plant based diet since 1999 and teaches cooking classes at TrueNorth Health Centre and the McDougall Program. All of the recipes in Straight Up Food are 100% vegan and gluten and “SOS-free” (made with no added salt, oil, or sugar).

This is not one of those beautifully illustrated but overly complicated gourmet cookbooks that sits on your shelf and never gets used. What it is, is an easy to follow guide on how to make homely, tasty and healthy vegan food. The recipes cover many of your favourite meals that both children and adults will love, such as ‘beef’ stew, caesar salad, pancakes, minestrone soup and blueberry muffins.

In the back of the book there are additional sections that give guidance on how to change to a plant-based diet, to do menu planning as well as tips for traveling and eating out. This is my go to recipe book and if I can create a great meal from it then it definitely deserves a place on my list of best vegan books for beginners.


Finding Ultra vegan BookFinding Ultra – Rich Roll


Ok so I’ve include one cookbook on my list so now to choose one for athletes. Again, there are so many to choose from but having just finished re reading Finding Ultra by Rich Roll it was an easy choice. Finding Ultra tells the story of Rich Roll, who on the eve of his 40th birthday finds himself almost 25 kilos overweight and unable to climb a flight of stairs without stopping.

Deciding he had to make drastic lifestyle changes Rich dove straight in changing to a plant-based lifestyle and incorporating daily training. Finding Ultra tells Rich’s remarkable journey from overweight meat eating couch potato to the finish of the EPIC 5 which is five Ironman distance triathlons, each on a different Hawaiian island, all completed in less than a week.

Over the past 10 years Rich has become one of the world’s most recognized advocates of plant-based living. In the latest edition of Finding Ultra he shares the tools, techniques and practices that he uses for optimal performance, longevity, and wellness, including diet and nutrition protocols.

Rich has written this book in such a way that it pulls you straight in to his story. It is not just a book about running or diet but a book about living life to the full. For any athlete questioning the validity of a vegan diet I urge you to read Finding Ultra. You may also like to listen to Rich on his podcast at richroll.com


vegan childrens bookAnd that’s why we don’t eat animals – Ruby Roth


The last book on my list is the only one that I don’t own but I want to finish on a book for children and having recently seen an interview with Ruby Roth where she was grilled for 15 minutes by a particular aggressive tv presenter I was really impressed by how articulate she was and how well thought out the book was.

Beautifully illustrated and cleverly thought out, That’s Why We Don’t Eat Animals is a book written for children ideally between about 6-10 years to learn more about veganism. The animals in the book are shown in both their wild, free and natural state playing and bonding with each other and in the terrible conditions of the factory farm.

The book also explains the negative effects that eating meat has on the environment.  Ruby Roth does a brilliant and at the same time brave job of highlighting these important issues in a way children can understand.


So, there you have my list of 10 best vegan books for beginners. There are so many more that I could have added to the list. Have you read any of these books or are they on your wish list? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below and if you are looking for a specific read tell us and we will let you know if we have read it. Until then happy reading.

2 thoughts on “Best vegan books for beginners”

  • Thank you for these awesome book recommendations. I definitely could use a change in diet considering my weight ballooned over 25 pounds during the holiday seasons. 

    I have heard of the benefits of going vegan and did try but really struggled and eventually gave up. I guess I didn’t have enough variety of foods in my diet. I really want to give it a go again and am hopeful that some of these books can help

    • I would recommend going for the idiots guide to plant based nutrition for a really good overview of the health benefits and then choosing one of the recipe books to help get you started. Good luck, let us now how you get on

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