- July 20, 2022
- by Amy Gorin, MS, RDN
- 2 Comments
The 13 Best Plant-Based Diet Books
These plant-based diet books are perfect for helping you transition to a nutritious, whole foods diet! Discover cookbooks and nutrition books.
Every year, new diet trends make their way to the mainstream, only to fizzle out a few months later. Some people may have thought the plant-based diet would be yet another passing trend. But boy, were they wrong! It has true staying power.
From grocery store shelves to restaurant menus, the plant-based diet trend has increased in popularity in recent years.
If you’re looking to make this way of eating part of your lifestyle, it helps to have guidance from some of the top plant-based diet books and cookbooks—all written by the pros.
Take your pick from the plant-based diet book list below to make the transition to the eating style much easier. Which of these books on plant-based diets will you read first?
What is a plant-based diet?
Despite its popularity, a plant-based diet doesn’t have a single definition. However, many experts agree on one basic principle.
Plant-based diets consist of mostly plants (fruits, vegetables, beans and legumes, nuts, and seeds), with the caveat that eating a plant-based diet doesn’t require being a strict vegan or vegetarian.
Simply put, if you choose to eat a plant-based diet, then you’re committing to adding more plants to your plate.
There’s no doubt about it: Emphasizing your intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, and seeds in will increase fiber and heart-healthy fat intake.
Plants also provide many antioxidants and phytonutrients known to boast health benefits.
Plus, eating more plants may lead to replacing foods higher in saturated fat and sodium with ones lower in these nutrients. This type of diet change has shown to be beneficial for health.
A plant-based diet may help in:
- Lowering total saturated fat intake, which is beneficial for heart health.
- Reducing risk of chronic disease—including heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers.
- Keeping cholesterol and blood sugar levels within normal ranges.
- Lowering blood pressure.
- Maintaining healthy gut bacteria.
What’s the difference between a plant-based diet and a vegan diet?
It’s easy to confuse a plant-based diet with a vegan diet or vegetarian diet. But important differences exist. Vegan diets eliminate all animal products—including meat, fish, poultry, dairy, and eggs. Vegetarian diets cut out meat, fish, and poultry—but still allow for inclusion of dairy and eggs.
Unlike vegan and vegetarian diets, plant-based diets have more flexibility and place the focus on what to add to the diet (fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, and whole grains), versus what to eliminate. This allows for the inclusion of animal products, if desired.
Best plant-based diet books about nutrition
Now, let’s take a look at the best plant-based diet books to help you start on your plant-based-eating journey.
1. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan
Curious about how an investigative journalist answers the question of what to eat for dinner? Then look no further than this informative read by Michael Pollan.
He explores the origins of the meals he eats and, in the process, provides an unforgettable look into how food makes it to our plates.
Kristina Todini, RD, founder of the sustainable food blog Fork in the Road, says The Omnivore’s Dilemma is a must-read history of food and agriculture.
“This book beautifully blends history, sustainability, food philosophy, and a reverence for food and where it comes from,” she says.
“I highly recommend The Omnivore’s Dilemma as a starting point for people who want to learn how to eat in a way that is not only good for health but also for the health of the planet.”
2. Plant-Based Diet for Dummies by Marni Wasserman
If you’ve read any of the Dummies books, then you know they help make difficult concepts easy to understand. That’s exactly what Plant-Based Diet for Dummies accomplishes.
Wasserman shares the basics of eating plant based by providing simple solutions, such as a shopping guide and tips for plant-based eating away from home.
3. Eat for the Planet by Nil Zacharias and Gene Stone
The environmental impact of how we eat has been hotly debated in recent years. Looking to dive deeper into this topic while also learning more about plant-based diets? Then look no further than Eat for the Planet.
Molly Chanzis, MS, RD registered dietitian and founder of the Instagram handle @sayyestothefresh, says she loves this book because of its focus on eating for the health of ourselves and the planet.
“Eating for health and eating for sustainability of the planet are undeniably related,” she says. “This book provides rationale and guidance for how to make manageable dietary changes to help both.”
4. Becoming Vegan: Comprehensive Edition by Brenda Davis, RD and Vesanto Melina, MS, RD
Add the book to your collection if you’re planning to skip a flexible plant-based diet and go straight to becoming a full-fledged vegan.
Because Becoming Vegan was written by two registered dietitians, you can consider it a reliable source for answers to questions about vegan eating.
However, don’t expect a light read when you pick up this book. Todini considers Becoming Vegan a reference manual for all things vegan diets and plant-based nutrition.
Best plant-based-diet cookbooks
Now that you understand the basics of following a plant-based diet, it’s time to dive into preparing tasty plant-based recipes. Grab a few—or all!—of these best plant based books for cooking.
5. Saladish: A Crunchier, Grainier, Herbier, Heartier, Tastier Way with Vegetables by Ilene Rosen
If you want a cookbook that shares the basics of cooking with plants, pop open Saladish by Ilene Rosen. Laura Geraty, MS, RD, a culinary dietitian and nutrition coach, considers this book a must for plant-based eaters.
“Saladish is packed with recipes for vegetables just how I want to eat them—with bright, fresh flavors, contrasting textures, and tons of global influence,” she says.
Additionally, she notes that she enjoys the book’s prep techniques—skills even the most seasoned chefs can put into practice—such as how to remove corn kernels from the cob without them flying all over the counter.
Plus, if you don’t have all the ingredients you need for a recipe, Rosen has you covered. “I love how she shares how to alter a recipe according to what you’re craving or what ingredients you have on hand,” says Geraty.
6. Vegetable Literacy by Deborah Madison
Vegetable Literacy is more than just a basic cookbook for vegetarian meals.
The book includes over 300 recipes broken down by plant families and provides details on edible flowers and herbs, as well as the veggies commonly seen on grocery store shelves.
“Vegetable Literacy is the cookbook to gift someone who grows their own vegetables or religiously shops at farmers’ markets,” Geraty says.
“Madison’s recipes are simple. But if you are working with vegetables recently pulled from the ground, they should be.”
7. Bad Manners: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck: A Vegan Cookbook by Michelle Davis and Matt Holloway
If you don’t mind your cookbook featuring some salty language, this book is for you. The origins of Bad Manners are in the blog Bad Manners (previously known as Thug Kitchen), which prides itself in taking an unpretentious approach to cooking.
The cookbook is no different and provides real-world tips for eating on a budget, while also offering approachable plant-based recipes for cooks of all skill levels.
8. Vegetable Kingdom: The Abundant World of Vegan Recipes by Bryant Terry
Here’s another book by Bryant Terry that isn’t to be missed. Tara Mardigan, RD, a registered dietitian in New York City and author of Real Fit Kitchen, loves this book because of its ability to bring you a full cooking experience in a unique way.
“Each recipe in Vegetable Kingdom paired with a song,” Mardigan says.
“I was introduced to fonio, one of Africa’s oldest grains, from Terry’s baked fonio and kale balls while paired with Guru’s Le Bien, Le Mal from Jazzmatazz, Vol 1. That’s a favorite album of mine, and now fonio is a favorite, too.”
Grab this book, open your favorite music streaming service, and make a night of it!
9. Vibrant Food: Celebrating the Ingredients, Recipes and Colors of Each Season by Kimberley Hasselbrink
Here’s one of the top plant-based diet books to add to your bookshelf. Kimberley Hasselbrink’s book focuses on the colorful aspects of eating more plants while honoring the seasonality of eating.
The idea of eating the rainbow is one many dietitians embrace, and this is one of the reasons why Mardigan loves Vibrant Food.
She describes the cookbook as approachable with flavorful recipes that live up to the celebratory title.
“I’ve always loved a visual approach to eating and often use #paintyourplate on my social media messaging,” Mardigan says. “The more color, the better.”
10. Salad in a Jar by Anna Helm Baxter
When you think about plant-based diets, it’s likely that salads are the first meals that to come to mind. If you enjoy salads but are stuck in a salad rut, check out Salad in a Jar for a fresh take on this plant-based standby.
Norine Khalil, RD, co-founder of One Elephant Integrative Health Team, says she loves this book because of its many salad dressing recipes.
“The dressings in this book are simple but so flavorful and made with heart-healthy, filling fats that can help make a plant-based meal feel more satisfying,” she says.
“The salads are made with a variety of high-fiber grains and vegetables, as well as legumes that make for a protein-packed, nutrient-rich meal that can really complete a plant-based diet.”
11. The No Meat Athlete Cookbook: Whole Food, Plant-Based Recipes to Fuel Your Workouts–and the Rest of Your Life by Matt Frazier and Stepfanie Romine
Active people who lead busy lives will enjoy this cookbook for its focus on simple recipes. The No Meat Athlete Cookbook features plenty of recipes and as a bonus provides tips for what to eat before and after workouts.
If you’re an athlete and new to eating a plant-based diet, these tips can be helpful for replacing go-to meals and snacks in favor of plant-based options.
Best flexitarian diet cookbooks
Eating plant based doesn’t have too mean avoiding meat, poultry, and seafood altogether. These flexitarian diet cookbooks will help any flexitarian plant-based eater cook up a balanced menu.
12. Nourish: Whole Food Recipes Featuring Seeds, Nuts and Beans by Nettie Cronish and Cara Rosenbloom, RD
“Many people want to add more seeds, nuts, and beans to their diet but aren’t sure how,” says co-author Cara Rosenbloom, RD.
“So I teamed up with a chef to add these nutrient-dense plant foods to 100 familiar recipes that people already enjoy—such as oatmeal, minestrone soup, grilled salmon, and even dessert!
“Nourish shows readers how easy and delicious it is to add more plant-based foods to meals without drastically altering your diet.”
13. The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook: 101 Easy, Flavorful Recipes for Lifelong Health by Serena Ball, RD and Deanna Rose Segrave-Daly, RD
“The 30-Minute Mediterranean Diet Cookbook is one that I recommend often to people!” says Carolyn Land Williams, PhD, RD, author of Meals That Heal.
“I’m always looking for quick and easy recipes that can feed the whole family.”
“What I also really like is that the authors take Mediterranean beyond EVOO and pasta, even showing you how you can follow Mediterranean diet principles into a lower-carb or low-carb lifestyle.”
Eating Mediterranean cuisine, including olive oil, is a great way to reduce risk of heart disease and embrace a flexitarian plant-based lifestyle.
Whether your goal is simply to eat more plants or to make the jump to a vegan or vegetarian diet, there’s bound to be plant-based diet book or plant-based diet cookbook on this list for you.
One thing to remember: No matter what you decide, eating plants should be delicious and packed with flavor. Don’t settle for anything less!
- Kristina Todini, RD, founder of the sustainable food blog Fork in the Road
- Molly Chanzis, MS, RD, registered dietitian and founder of the popular Instagram handle @sayyestothefresh
- Laura Geraty, MS, RD, a culinary dietitian and nutrition coach
- Norine Khalil, RD, co-founder of One Elephant Integrative Health Team
- Tara Mardigan, RD, a registered dietitian in New York City and author of Real Fit Kitchen
- Cara Rosenbloom, RD
- Carolyn Land Williams, PhD, RD, author of Meals That Heal
I’d love to hear from you! Tell me which of these best plant based books you’ve tried and loved, or if there’s another plant-based diet book that you’d at to this list.
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Love the list. I haven’t read any of these but my first three choices would be:
Vibrant Food would be my first choice because it is set up by season.
No Meat Athlete- always searching for creative ways to build muscle in seniors and young athletes.
Nourish – I love eating seeds nuts beans.
I am not a Vegan but always looking for ways to increase fruits and vegetable in a tasty way.
Thanks ! Marilyn RDN
This is fantastic, thanks for sharing Marilyn! Happy reading to you!