Learn how to eat a plant-based diet with a few of my recommended plant-based diet books, recipes, and documentaries. These are the resources that helped us switch to a plant-based diet!
Welcome to the third post in my “miniseries” about eating a plant-based diet! Part 1 was about why we switched to a plant-based diet, and what it is, exactly. Part 2 was a reflection on the Weston A. Price Foundation diet that I used to esteem highly, and some problems associated with that diet.
Finally, this last part is a resource post with book recommendations, websites, and recipes for anyone who’s curious about plant-based eating (or is already there but wants more inspiration!)
I have no interest in explaining to anyone the health benefits of eating a plant-based diet, because these books and documentaries do a much better job of that than I could! Please read/watch/listen, and at the very least you’ll come away inspired to eat more veggies!
Books About Eating a Plant-Based Diet
These are the first books I checked out on plant-based eating, and I found them all fascinating!
- Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn
- The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell
- Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman
There are lots of other books in the plant-based diet genre; just poke around on the listings I linked to above and you’ll see other books pop up on the “related products” suggestions. Another good one would be How Not to Die by Michael Greger. Nourish by Reshma Shah and Brenda Davis looks good, too. Content-wise, there can be a lot of overlap in plant-based diet books, so just pick one or two that sound good to you and then every other year or so read another if you need more motivation!
Documentaries, Podcasts, and Websites on Plant-Based Living
Forks Over Knives – This is my top recommendation for a plant-based diet documentary. See if your library has a copy!
The Game Changers – This one focuses on athletes and busting the myth that you can’t eat enough protein on a plant-based diet. It’s currently streaming on Netflix, or you can rent it on Amazon for $1.
There are tons of other documentaries on related topics such as veganism, animal welfare, and the socio-environmental issues of the animal product industry. Just do a bit of Googling and see what comes up.
Chris Beat Cancer – This site is authored by a cancer survivor with a passion for plant-based living. Although there’s a helpful blog component, the most interesting thing in my opinion are his video interviews with cancer survivors and health experts. The videos cover a range of health topics including autoimmune disease, hormones, sleep, and heart disease, as well as lifestyle issues. Interesting to listen to while you’re doing housework!
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine – This site has great organization! Click the dropdowns in the menu bar to pull up all kinds of topics. Includes podcast episodes, too.
T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies – Lots of info and resources here.
We are still just a few years in to plant-based eating and there are still tons of foods and preparation methods we haven’t tried. Jackfruit, for instance. Because of its texture and ability to soak up flavors, people use it as a meat substitute in dishes like vegan pulled pork and barbecue! Unfortunately, it’s still a specialty food and harder to come by.
Although we’ve found plant-based recipes all around the internet, there are a couple of sources that we’ve come back to again and again. These are Nora Cooks, A Couple Cooks, and The New York Times Cooking (some of the recipes on NYT Cooking require a subscription, though). Here are a few of our favourite recipes from these sites and others.
Many of these have actually become some of our favourite comfort foods!
> Garlic Herb White Bean Dip – Good for spreading on sandwiches, too.
> White Beans with Garlic and Lemon – So good!! We often skip the Parmesan, and we don’t put anything in the blender…just stir the garlic oil into the beans before serving.
> Red Lentil Dal – I skip the soaking step on this, and use plenty of smoked paprika! I also make a dal recipe from an old cookbook. It’s similar, but uses brown lentils and no tomatoes. The spices are a little different, too: cumin, salt, turmeric, garlic cloves, and cardamom seeds.
> African Peanut Stew – We make this in the crock pot, use lots of sweet potatoes and carrots, and make with extra chickpeas instead of meat.
> Chickpea Curry – One of my favourites!
> Chickpea Quinoa Bowls with Tahini Sauce – Tahini takes a while to stir when you first open a jar, but you won’t have to stir it much subsequently. This recipe is great with couscous, too!
> Marinated Tofu – This post also gives you instructions for how to press tofu, a step which makes pretty much any tofu recipe better!
> Tofu Taco Crumbles – The recipe says not to press the tofu, but it’s better when you do.
> Vegan Nacho Sauce – This is a recipe that the kids especially like. We put it on sheet pan nachos with lots of different toppings.
> Risotto, similar to this. We skip the vegan cheese or put in a few tablespoons of nutritional yeast instead. I added a bunch of sautéed Portobello mushrooms the other day and it was the ultimate comfort food!
> This 28-Day Plant-Based Diet Meal Plan is also a good place to start!
Other plant-based favourites we like but don’t have a recipe to link to include split pea soup; homemade pizza; and beans and rice with slaw, bell peppers, cilantro, guacamole, or any other toppings. Also lots of roasted broccoli, raw fruits and veggies, green smoothies, and overnight oatmeal.
We also love the soup cookbook Ladled, although I’m not sure if it’s in print any more. You can find used copies or get the Kindle version. Soups are often light on meat, or the meat can be eliminated altogether. For one of our favourite recipes in the book–cream of vegetable soup–I sometimes add a can or two of drained, rinsed white beans to add protein.
In my opinion, the secret weapon in plant-based eating is beans. Beans and more beans. And here’s why: beans are one of the healthiest things you can eat, they’re extremely versatile, high in protein, and cheap.
When you cut back on animal products, you’re going to need to make up the protein somewhere. While fruits and veggies contain small amounts of protein, they’re not going to be a primary source. Nuts and seeds have lots of protein, but they’re expensive and high in fat (you don’t want to have cashew cream sauce every day!). Tofu is tasty, versatile, and relatively cheap, but still can’t scale as well as beans.
So make friends with beans. Your plant-based life will be so much easier. Buy them dried so you can cook cheaply in large amounts, and buy them canned for the convenience factor of quickly adding to soups, salads, burritos, etc.
If you find that you experience gas and bloating when eating lots of beans, take heart because this will most likely get better over time. As you eat an increasingly fiber-rich diet with fruits, legumes, and vegetables, your gut will love it and will get healthier, and you’ll find that the whole digestive process goes more smoothly.
Where we get plant-based ingredients
While any local grocery store will supply you with fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains, I just want to do a quick plug for Aldi because they have made the plant-based transition so much easier for us! Aldi’s main claim to fame is that they are simpler than regular grocery stores and cheaper.
A few of our plant-based favourites to buy there are organic, extra-firm tofu (in our store it’s near the sausages and canned biscuits); unsweetened almond milk; raw cashews; chia seeds; ground flax; and dried and canned beans. Now I’d really be happy if they also regularly carried lentils, split peas, and canned coconut milk…but perhaps someday!
Aldi also has an increasing amount of vegan convenience food like veggie burgers, “meat”balls, and noodle bowls. These are nice for a treat but you wouldn’t want to eat them regularly–actual fruits and vegetables are best! For the record, my favourite plant-based treat is Beyond Meat burgers, which our local Publix carries.