08 December 2011

Ready to go vegan? Here's a list of the top books to start your journey

So you’re thinking about going vegan. First of all, congratulations! You’re about to embark on a compassionate journey, paving the way to a healthy, sustainable, ethically sound lifestyle. Forgoing animal products seems like a daunting endeavor, but it truly doesn’t take much effort once you get your bearings. Discovering your motivations and learning to lead a healthful lifestyle are the keys to being a happy vegan and there are several books that helped me through my days as a vegan newcomer.

For a comprehensive work on why a vegan lifestyle is crucial to our health, the well-being of animals, and the future of our planet, pick up Diet for a New America: How Your Food Choices Affect Your Health, Happiness, and the Future of Life on Earth by John Robbins. Robbins’ compelling tone depicts the horrific conditions experienced by animals raised for food, antagonizes the myth that animal products are necessary for health, and exposes the ecological crisis caused by our demand for and consumption of animals for food. If his words alone weren’t compelling enough, Robbins interweaves bits and pieces of his childhood as a dairy lover of Baskin-Robbins fame and explains the necessity he felt to refuse control of the company as an adult.

Maybe you’re health-oriented and you want more concrete proof of health benefits of a vegan diet. The China Study: The most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted and the startling implications for diet, weight loss, and long term health by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. should have no problem convincing you that a whole foods diet devoid of animal products is not just equivalent to, but actually superior to a diet containing such foods. The results of Dr. Campbell’s incredibly widespread epidemiological study of hundreds of variables relating diet to disease clearly highlight an unmistakable link between the standard American diet and diseases of affluence. In addition, he presents evidence of reversal of these diseases with a whole foods, plant-based diet and exposes the politics that continually mask this knowledge from the public.

For a brilliant synthesis of fact and philosophy that challenges an omnivorous lifestyle on ethical grounds, look no further than Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. Foer uses his own journey to vegetarianism to exhaustively explore the moral implications of consuming animal products. He refrains from outright advocating vegetarianism; rather he presents his process and leaves the decision in the hands of the reader. After swallowing Foer’s words it becomes much less of a decision and more of an obligation.

Perhaps you’re concerned about implementing such dietary changes healthfully and need advice on proper nourishment once you cut out animal products. In Becoming Vegan: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Plant-Based Diet registered dieticians Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina provide such advice. They explore chronic illness prevention, the ever-elusive question of where vegans get their protein, proper supplementation, special considerations for all stages of life from infancy to elderly, and weight and eating disorders along with a multitude of other topics. They even provide a version of the famed Food Guide Pyramid, updated for vegans. Both a Bible and an encyclopedia, I suggest this book to seasoned vegans and those new on the scene.

Of course, no vegan lifestyle is complete without lots of delicious, home-cooked food and for that you need a couple of awesome cookbooks. The holy grail of vegan cookbooks has to be Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. The book is heavily loaded with easy, tasty, user-friendly recipes that will prove to anyone on the fence that vegan food is anything but bland. You’ll be amazed at the flavorful and filling dishes emerging from your kitchen, all made entirely of plants. And while you’re at it, pick up Isa Chandra’s newest book Vegan Pie in the Sky, because your life is not complete until you’ve successfully made and devoured a vegan pie.

Kaitlyn Miklinevich | Facebook | Twitter
Kaitlyn leads a double life as a graduate student in biochemistry and a vegan blogger, environmentalist, and budding animal rights activist. In her spare time she's been known to lift a weight or two, sport a tie dyed shirt, and put in some work behind her camera. Follow her vegan journey through her blog The Tie Dye Files.

Photo credit: SXC shecat | Disclosure: Amazon affiliate links included