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Here is a list of 13 highly rated plant-based diet nutrition books. If you seriously want to learn about the health benefits of a plant-based diet, you should have at least one of these books!
- Vegan Starter Kit by Nutriciously
- The Plant-Based Solution
- Eat to Live
- The Engine 2 Diet
- The Starch Solution
- The Whole Foods Diet
What is a Plant-Based Diet?
A plant-based diet is quite simply a diet full of foods that come from plants.
Eating 100% plant-based means that all animal products are eliminated. No meat, eggs, dairy, or any other food that comes from an animal.
Some people eat mostly plant-based rather than 100% plant-based. This means they may incorporate small amounts of animal-based foods every so often, but a very large portion of their diet is comprised of plant-based foods.
When people are eating plant-based for health reasons, it is best to eat a whole-foods plant-based diet, which eliminates highly processed and refined foods. Some minimally processed foods are still accepted, such as plant-based milks, and occasionally tofu.
A whole-foods plant-based diet consists of the following types of foods:
- Whole grains
- Beans and legumes
- Nuts and seeds
These are the main food groups for this type of diet, but there are other ingredients you can use as well to make your food super flavorful. Check out this plant-based grocery list to help you get organized!
Why Eat a Plant-Based Diet?
Plant-based diets are becoming more and more popular these days.
Much of this popularity is due to research that has shown the various health benefits related to plant-based nutrition, including the potential to prevent and reverse certain illnesses. Some people have successfully reversed heart disease and diabetes by switching to a whole-foods plant-based lifestyle!
The plant-based diet books on this list provide nutrition information and guidelines on how to live a healthy plant-based lifestyle. This isn't just a fad diet. It's a sustainable way of eating that will allow you to remain in good health longterm.
These books are NOT cookbooks, however many of them do contain recipes as well!
Let’s take a look at these awesome plant-based diet books…
Best Plant-Based Books with a Meal Plan
The following books provide nutrition information about eating a plant-based diet, as well as recipes and meal plans. The meal plans in the following books range from 7 days to 28 days and with the recipes and information provided, you will be ready to make your own meal plans as well!
Vegan Starter Kit by Nutriciously
This comprehensive e-book is the ultimate guide to a plant-based diet. Spanning more than 200 pages, it includes nutritional information, food staples, and worksheets to keep you on track.
On top of all the information, this e-book also includes more than 40 whole foods plant-based recipes and a 14-day meal plan to help you get started!
Get instant access when you buy this e-book. No waiting for it to come in the mail, and no shipping fees!
Get the Vegan Starter Kit here.
The Plant-Based Solution
Written by cardiologist Dr. Joel Kahn, this book will teach you about the health benefits of a whole-foods plant-based diet.
Dr. Kahn has had success helping patients reverse heart disease and he provides evidence - through research and case studies - on how this type of diet can prevent and reverse various other illnesses as well. He provides evidence including case studies on how a whole-foods plant-based diet can improve and in some cases reverse diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis and more.
On top of all the scientific information, this book also includes over 60 recipes with a 21-day meal plan!
Tips on stocking your pantry and eating out are also provided, as well as real-life stories from people who have implemented a whole-foods plant-based diet.
One con to this book is that Dr. Kahn promotes a whole-foods plant-based diet which eliminates oil, however some of the recipes provided in the book include oil. This is quite contradictory. But where oil is just used for sautéing, it can usually just be replaced with water or vegetable broth.
Get The Plant-Based Solution here.
Eat to Live
This book by Dr. Joel Fuhrman includes information on how to lose weight and sustain that weight loss through eating nutrient-rich, mostly plant-based foods (he believes it’s okay to include less than 5 % animal products in your diet).
Dr. Fuhrman outlines a 6 week plan for sustainable weight loss that focuses on nutrient density. If you focus on eating more nutrient-dense foods, you will consume less calories and have less cravings for unhealthy, less nutrient-dense foods. The benefits of this will not only include weight loss, but an improvement in overall health.
The plan laid out by Dr. Fuhrman includes general rules to what you can and cannot eat, without a specific meal plan for the entire 6 weeks. This plan involves no added salt, oil, or refined sugar (not even maple syrup).
Dr. Fuhrman also recommends limiting alcohol, caffeine, and grains (whole grains are still good, but he suggests not having too many). The main foods of this way of eating are vegetables, fruit, beans, and nuts.
This book is largely informational, but to help with meals, some recipes are included along with a simple 7 day meal plan.
Dr. Fuhrman also has an Eat to Live Cookbook if you are looking for more recipes.
The Engine 2 Diet
This book is written by Rip Esselstyn, professional athlete turned firefighter. The Engine 2 Diet outlines a 28-day plan to lose weight and improve health, most notably lower cholesterol.
Esselstyn created this program for his fellow firefighters who were in poor physical condition and struggling with high cholesterol levels. The program succeeded in helping everyone lose weight and lower their cholesterol!
The eating plan outlined in this book involves eating a whole foods plant-based diet which completely eliminates animal products. Foods to eat include whole grains, fruit, vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts, and seeds. Esselstyn also includes tips on stocking your pantry and eating out.
Also included in this book is Esselstyn’s firefighter-inspired exercise program to help you lose weight.
Additionally, you will get tips for staying on track when eating out and how to stock your pantry so you don’t fall off the diet when you have cravings.
This book does include plenty of recipes, but Rip Esselstyn also has an Engine 2 Diet Cookbook with even more recipes!
The Starch Solution
This book by Dr. John A. McDougall outlines a way of eating that helps people lose weight while eating plenty of carbs!
Dr. McDougall explains how eating a starch-rich, low-fat diet can promote weight loss, prevent illnesses, and improve overall health. He debunks the common misconception that carbs are the enemy of health and weight loss.
Throughout this book, Dr. McDougall touches on protein, calcium, supplements, and more.
This book includes a weekly menu planner and plenty of recipes to get you started with this way of starch-rich eating filled with whole grains, potatoes, and legumes. Dr. McDougall recommends eating when hungry and not restricting calories, as long as you are eating compliant foods.
The menu planner can help you plan out your own meals using the recipes provided in the book, but there is also a 7 day plan laid out if you’d prefer to have it ready to follow!
The Whole Foods Diet
This book is written by the co-founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market, John Mackey, along with MDs Alona Pulde and Matthew Lederman. This book provides plenty of information about the health benefits of a whole foods plant-based diet, with the inclusion of little to no animal products.
On top of nutritional information, this book also includes plenty of testimonials from people who have lost weight and improved or reversed chronic illnesses from eating a whole foods plant-based diet.
There is a section at the end of this book with recipes to help you get started with a whole foods plant-based diet.
What’s especially helpful is that this book also includes a section on how to throw together some staple meals. This includes outlines on how to make smoothies, wraps, salads, and grain bowls with whatever ingredients you have on hand.
This book makes starting a whole foods plant-based diet super easy with a 28 day meal plan that outlines what to make for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Get The Whole Foods Diet here.
Best Plant-Based Diet Books (Without a Full Meal Plan)
The following plant-based diet books focus more on the science behind plant-based diets and how they affect health. Some of these books have recipes, but they do not include any laid out meal plans.
How Not to Die
This is definitely one of the most popular books in the plant-based community. Michael Greger is a medical doctor with extensive knowledge on health and nutrition.
How Not to Die will open your eyes to the ways in which foods affect our physical health, and you will learn how to nourish your body in a way that has the potential to reverse certain illnesses.
I like the way that this book is divided into chapters by illness, covering the top 15 causes of premature death in America. So there is a chapter called, How Not to Die from Heart Disease, How Not to Die from Lung Diseases, etc. Dr. Greger refers to scientific studies to explain how these chronic illnesses can often be prevented and even reversed through diet.
Dr. Greger also discusses how doctors are often good at dealing with acute illnesses, but not good at preventing chronic disease.
This is not a recipe book, but Dr. Greger includes his “Daily Dozen” which are 12 foods that he recommends we eat every day. He also has a separate book called, How Not to Die Cookbook, which has plenty of recipes.
The Forks Over Knives Plan
Forks Over Knives is a documentary that looks at the positive health effects of a whole-foods plant-based diet, backed by doctors and researchers. The documentary is a real eye opener and this book will give you some more insight into the benefits of a whole-foods plant-based diet.
This book includes information on how to transition to a healthy plant-based diet and it also includes a 4-week meal guide created by doctors, along with over 100 recipes. The meal guide doesn’t lay out specific meals to eat each day, but rather it teaches you how to plan your own breakfast, lunch, and dinner so that you can sustain this lifestyle.
So although this book is called a “plan,” note that it does not lay out exactly what meals you should eat each day.
This eating plan completely eliminates animal products as well as highly refined and processed foods.
You will learn what foods to buy, how to deal with cravings, and it comes with a bunch of recipes as well. This book is perfect for beginners who are having a hard time getting started with the whole-foods plant-based lifestyle!
Get The Forks Over Knives Plan here.
In this book, registered dieticians Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina go through the various health benefits of a plant-based diet. The book begins with information on animal agriculture and the negative environmental impact of eating a non-vegan diet, before discussing the health implications.
The authors include nutritional guidelines for various age groups, which sets it apart from many other plant-based nutrition books. They even give information on how to eat a healthy plant-based diet while pregnant and breast-feeding.
They also go into specific nutrients, explaining how much you need and the best sources for each.
You will learn how easy it is to get enough protein, calcium, and other important nutrients without eating meat, eggs, or dairy.
This is a great book for those who want to learn how to be a healthy vegan!
Registered dietitian Julieanna Hever, and scientist Raymond J. Cronise teamed up to write this incredibly comprehensive book about the scientifically proven benefits of a whole-foods plant-based diet.
This book includes a new perspective on macronutrients, how to categorize various foods, and provides information on weight loss.
They discuss how to get all the macronutrients you need as well as vitamins and minerals. They also touch on exercise, whether or not you need supplements, and plant-based eating for babies, kids, seniors, and athletes.
The authors include their own food triangle and tips on how to stock your pantry and dine out as well.
Also included are recipes and tips to help you maintain a whole-foods plant-based diet. There is also a sample menu to help you get started.
Get Plant-Based Nutrition here.
The China Study
In this book, Dr. Colin Campbell and his son, Dr. Thomas M. Campbell II, share the findings from the most comprehensive study ever of how diet relates to developing diseases.
This study was called the China Project, and was conducted by the Chinese Academy of Preventive Medicine, Cornell University, and the University of Oxford. The research was based on people in various regions of China.
In the 1980s when the study began, people in China tended to live in one area for the duration of their lives and they ate the same diet which was low in fat and high in dietary fiber and plant material. This gave researchers the opportunity to compare the plant-focused rural Chinese diet with animal-based diets of Western countries.
The findings of this study revealed the risk of consuming animal protein, and the benefits of a whole-foods plant-based diet. This book summarizes the findings, and the expanded edition includes even more evidence of how a plant-based diet can improve your health.
This book does not contain recipes or meal plans.
This is another book written by Dr. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study. Whole goes further into more current nutritional science relating to a whole-foods plant-based diet.
Dr. Campbell also addresses our society’s lack of adoption and even consideration of implementing a plant-based diet, despite all of the evidence of its benefits. This book will open your eyes to the profit-driven food and health industries.
This book does not include any recipes or meal plans.
It is a great book for those who want to learn about why it is beneficial to eat whole foods and for those who want to understand why the food industry does not advocate for a plant-based diet.
How Not to Diet
This is another book by Dr. Michael Greger that focuses on how to lose weight permanently through a healthy whole foods plant-based diet.
Dr. Greger’s other very popular book, How Not to Die, touches on reversing multiple illnesses with a whole foods diet, whereas this book focuses particularly on obesity.
This book explains how to lose weight by teaching the reader about calorie density, the insulin index, and how foods impact our gut microbiome. Dr. Greger refers to multiple scientific studies to back up his advice for sustainable weight loss.
Dr. Greger goes over what is required for ideal weight-loss, such as food high in fiber, low in added fat, low in meat, and more. He also includes 21 weight-loss accelerators.
If you want more help starting a plant-based diet, you can check out this free plant-based grocery list and this list of tips on how to lose weight on a plant-based diet.