Since becoming ‘vegan’, I have gone through TONS of books and web sites. There seems to be a commonality between vegan chefs and foodies as most are pretty food obsessed. In spite of many tasty recipes, I have found that just because it is vegan does not make it healthy. For example, many vegan cookbooks use lots of sweeteners and oils. Another downfall of many vegan cookbooks is using pre-made vegan substitutes for cheeses, meats and other ingredients. What I strive for now are the smaller niche of ‘whole-foods plant-based’ resources. In some ways these recipes are even easier to follow since you are using whole food ingredients, but most importantly, you are getting foods the way your body was designed to ingest them. Since this is counter to the way most of use have learned to cook and eat, here are a list of resources I think should be helpful.
Forks over Knives Gives an overview of of the whole-foods plant-based diet. It gathers information from many sources (many listed here) and provides a basic introduction through the web page, book and movie. I think the movie is a great starting point for anyone who wants to know the whats, whys and hows. The web site and book introduce the main ideas from the biggest names in the whole-foods plant-based movement: Esselyton, Barnard, McDougall, etc. The web site also has some recipes and tips on how to get started including a good resource list (which I will try not to repeat here).
‘World’s Healthiest Foods‘ great reference for nutritional data and some recipes with super healthy foods.
Organic Lifestyle Magazinehas a great chart comparing sweetners.
The China Study by Campbell is the most exhaustive source for giving scientific evidence that a whole-foods plant-based diet is the healthiest choice. Dr. Campbell is a physician who also worked for the US government and with universities on nutrition and diet issues. He was also involved in the actual China study which was the single largest nutritional study in history. Dr. Campbell reviews several studies besides the China Study and shows the connections between a multitude of diseases and diet. I find this book the most convincing argument for a whole-foods plant-based diet, but it is a big book and quite detailed, so it may not be your first choice.
Disease Proof Your Child by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, MD is one of my personal favorites (links to two of his web sites). I recommend it for anyone with children or anyone expecting children as it has lots of information for helping children to eat well. He also has a suggested menu and recipes to help you get started. I also found the introduction with the information about the disease-diet connection very similar to The China Study, but much shorter and more digestible, and that would make this book applicable for even people without children. The one word of warning I would offer is that the evidence given to the diseases which develop later in life based on childhood nutrition can be frightening to read as an adult, and you may feel that all hope is lost. Reading The China Study, or one of Dr. Fuhrman’s other books, such as Eat for Health, would give you hope that there can be miraculous benefits of adapting to this healthier way of eating at any age or stage. I completely agree with Fuhrman’s findings, however, he seems to have developed into quite a business with books, DVDs, web support subscriptions, vitamins and other food items for sale, so it is a bit of a turnoff.
Jane Brody’s Good Food: Living the High Carbohydrate Way an older book (from 70s or 80s), and I’m not sure it is still in print, but she uses lots of whole grains and veggies while limiting fat and sugar. This is where the majority of my daily food has come from over the last 20 years.
101 Miracle Foods That Heal Your Heart by Liz Applegate A nutritionists who tells me chocolate is good for me, how can you NOT like that!?!
100 – 5 Ingredients or Less, Raw Food Recipes for Every Meal Occasion by Gina ‘The Veggie Goddess” Matthews is great fun as all the recipes are so simple. After all, what can be simpler than 5 ingredients and NO cooking?!