15 Must-Read Plant-Based Diet Books (That Could Save Your Life)

These plant-based diet books should be required reading for all human beings. They will empower you with a wealth of health knowledge, and if put to use, can add many happy years to your life.
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Who doesn’t want to live longer, feel healthier, and prevent the most common diseases that afflict human beings? Reading a few plant-based diet books can be a wonderful resource for a better life.

You probably know that a plant-based diet can be extraordinarily healthy. But did you know that the food you eat can actually save your life—or end it prematurely? These plant-based diet books are the most important books you can add to your reading list this year.

Heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, gastrointestinal issues, Alzheimer’s disease, and even cancer have been found to have strong ties to diet. These books dive into how the food you eat can even prevent, reverse, or cause disease. Many of these books are New York Times bestsellers, written by highly respected and accomplished doctors, and have upwards of 20,000 5-star ratings on Amazon.

In addition to watching documentaries, listening to podcasts, and learning the basics of plant-based nutrition, reading these books is one of the most valuable gifts you can give to yourself.

There are tons of free vegan lifestyle guides available online to help kickstart your plant-based journey right away! If you’re just starting your vegan journey here’s the ultimate guide to how to become a vegan. Don’t forget to check out how to answer common vegan questions—you’re bound to get asked one of these! There are even vegan kids books that range from teaching kindess, empathy and compassion.

Vegan holding out Simon Hill's book The Proof is in the Plants.

Cut Out the Confusion

Switching to a plant-based diet can be exciting, inspiring, and deeply gratifying, but also incredibly confusing. Increased mainstream awareness has given rise to a wealth of new resources for anyone curious about embarking along the path to veganism, along with an unfortunate trove of fresh misinformation.

It’s often difficult to pick apart true wisdom from hearsay and personal anecdotes, especially as anyone can take the guise of an expert online. Cut through all the noise and get to the heart of the matter with the top plant-based diet books to act as your trustworthy guides.

Vegan cookbooks have seen a similar boom in popularity as interest in cruelty-free alternatives continues to grow. These options only address the question of what to eat, leaving many critical questions about nutrition, eating out, grocery shopping, and so much more. Get a complete picture of what it takes to enjoy a happy, healthy plant-based lifestyle by consulting a comprehensive reference.

The Best Plant-Based Diet Books

Whether you’re vegan-curious or a total convert, it’s always a good idea to seek advice from the experts. Make sure your meal plans measure up, your ethics are on point, and science can support your choices with these top plant-based lifestyle books on your side.

You’ll also find podcast episodes with many of the authors below the book, which provide a nice synopsis of their work, research, and findings.

Top 10 Vegan Cookbooks.

How Not To Die by Dr Michael Greger, MD, FACLM

This New York Times Bestseller uncovers the groundbreaking scientific evidence behind the only diet that can prevent and reverse many causes of disease-related death.

Topics are arranged to specifically address common health concerns and how preventative medicine can have a tremendous impact, citing specific research and medical studies that support those findings. Get simple strategies for implementing changes in your own diet right away to stop this cycle of sickness. It’s just what the doctor ordered!

Book cover for How Not To Die by Michael Greger, M.D., FACLM.

Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., MD

The results of a revolutionary twenty-year study clearly demonstrate that a plant-based, oil-free diet can not only prevent the progression of heart disease, but even reverse the effects for anyone already diagnosed.

This book provides all the tools you need to embark on that same path towards fundamental, lasting wellness. Thousands have already found success reducing cholesterol, blood pressure, and body weight thanks to this science-based approach.

Book cover for Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. M.D.

The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, PhD, and Thomas M. Campbell, MD

Quite possibly the single most cited books on the effects of a plant-based diet, The China Study was a pioneer in the field, making waves over thirty years ago. Before most people had even tasted soy milk, this father and son team was uncovering the unmistakable link to diet and health.

It’s been revised numerous times since then to reflect the latest research, accommodating for the ever-changing medical system and innovative alternative treatments.

The China Study book cover by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell.

Fiber Fueled by Dr. Will Bulsiewicz, MD, MSCI

Renowned gastroenterologist “Dr. B” focuses in on utilizing fiber-rich fruits, vegetables, whole grains, seeds, nuts, and legumes to heal the microbiome, which effectively boosts the metabolism, balances hormones, and reduces inflammation. It all starts in the gut with plant-based whole foods!

Along with the full explanation of how and why this works, you’ll get a convenient 28-day jump start program with menus and over 65 recipes to make positive changes right away.

The book cover for Fiber Fueled by  Dr. Will Bulsiewicz.

Mastering Diabetes by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD, and Robby Barbaro, MPH

Diabetes is an increasingly common diagnosis worldwide, with an estimated 34.2 million adults in the United States alone struggling with the illness. An additional 88 million adults have prediabetes, just one step away from needing more extreme corrective measures. That may sound like a veritable death sentence, but it doesn’t have to be!

In fact, the solution quite simple: Eat a low-fat, plant-based, whole-food diet, to reverse insulin resistance in all types of diabetes, including type 1, type 1.5, type 2, prediabetes, and gestational diabetes. By following this delicious regimen, anyone can decrease their blood glucose, oral medication, and insulin requirements over time.

The book cover for Mastering Diabetes by Cyrus Khambatta, PhD, and Robby Barbaro, MPH.

The Sprout Book by Doug Evans

More than just fibrous sandwich filler, sprouts offer an untapped wealth of nutrients in a compact, accessible, and affordable package.

Arguably better than synthesized multivitamins, sprouts naturally contain:

  • 20 to 30 times more phytonutrients than other vegetables and 100 times those of meat
  • Antioxidants that fight cancer, cardiovascular disease, and more
  • Improve digestion
  • Regulate insulin levels

Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you can easily grow your own sprouts and take your health back into your own hands.

The book cover for The Sprout Book by Doug Evans.

Blue Zones: 9 Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest by Dan Buettner

National Geographic Explorer Dan Buettner has traveled the globe and seen the impact of diet on longevity first hand. Taking wisdom from Costa Rica to Sardinia, Italy, to Okinawa, Japan and beyond (AKA, The Blue Zones), he uncovers the secrets to living a longer, happier life.

Beyond just the food, there’s incredible power in creating small healthy habits. With the support of a community, it’s much easier to instantly enhance your well being at any age.

The book cover for The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner.

The Alzheimer’s Solution: A Breakthrough Program to Prevent and Reverse the Symptoms of Cognitive Decline at Every Age by Dr. Dean and Dr. Ayesha Sherzai

If someone says that all your problems are in your head, they’re not entirely wrong. Alzheimers, a degenerative disease that causes a drastic mental decline in old age, affects over 47 million people. It doesn’t have to be that way, though; roughly 90 percent of Alzheimer’s cases can be prevented.

The key is addressing it through nutrition, exercise, stress management, sleep, and engagement. This five-part program will help create a personalized blueprint to stop Alzheimer’s disease in its tracks.

The book cover for The Alzheimer's Solution by Dr. Dean and Dr. Ayesha Sherzai.

Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss by Joel Fuhrman, MD

Focused on fast, safe, and sustainable weight loss, over 10,000 patients have found success with Dr. Fuhrman’s revolutionary 6-week meal plan built upon a foundation of plant-based foods.

The secret is to emphasize nutrient-rich dishes without the use of inflammatory animal products to stop junk food cravings in their tracks. Anyone who’s tried and failed to drop excess pounds or continues to endanger their health through poor diet choices will find the support they need to finally make lasting change, along with countless success stories to stay inspired.

The book cover for Eat To Live by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.

The Proof is in the Plants: How Science Shows a Plant-Based Diet Could Save Your Life by Simon Hill

Combining the wisdom gleaned from his master’s degree in nutrition and hundreds of hours recording The Proof Podcast, Simon Hill debunks the myths of a plant-based diet in this no-nonsense guide. This includes the impact on not just personal health, but also environmental and animal welfare as well. For all the questions you didn’t know who to ask, this is you judgement-free confidant and new best friend. It’s the complete know-how, -why, -what, and -where for unlocking the power of plants.

The book cover for The Proof is in the Plants by  Simon Hill.

Forks Over Knives by T. Colin Campbell and Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr.

Many people were first introduced to Forks Over Knives though the groundbreaking plant-based documentary movie. This amazing movie advocates a low-fat, whole foods, plant-based diet to avoid or reverse disease. It’s since grown to become a movement in and of itself, complete with multiple guidebooks, cookbooks, online courses, and even frozen meals.

The original title, first released in 2011 and perpetual top seller since then, is still an excellent place to start. Forks Over Knives covers all the nutritional fundamentals and over 125 recipes to put them into action right away.

The book cover for Forks Over Knives by T. Colin Campbell and Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr.

The Plant Based Athlete by Matt Frazier and Robert Cheeke

Think you still need meat to gain muscle mass and strength? Think again. Plants can help optimize your athletic ability in any sport, whether that’s swimming, weight lifting, cycling, or just power walking with your dog. Examples of exercise routines and meal plans by genuine plant-based pro-athletes show you exactly how to get started at your own pace. You don’t even need to compete to feel like a winner!

The book cover for The Plant Based Athlete by Matt Frazier and Robert Cheeke.

Becoming Vegan: The Complete Reference to Plant-Based Nutrition by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina

Originally printed in 2000, this comprehensive tome covering all aspects of vegan nutrition has been continuously updated and reprinted to account for the latest developments in an ever-changing world. Co-authors Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina are both registered dietitians that have been thriving on a plant-based diet for well over two decades. They are dedicated to sharing that knowledge with anyone hungry to learn. Here, you’ll get in-depth answers to complicated questions, such as:

  • The impact of plant foods on cancer, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses.
  • How to obtain essential protein without meat, eggs, or dairy products
  • How to create a nutritionally balanced diet for everyone, including infants, pregnant women, athletes, and the elderly.

It’s already sold over 700,000 copies and is available in eight different languages.

The book cover for Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina.

Nourish: The Definitive Plant-Based Guide for Families by Reshmah Shah, MD, MPH, and Brenda Davis, RD

Making sure picky eaters get the nutrition they need is already a difficult task. Approaching it from a plant-based perspective can seem like a herculean undertaking. The solution to deciding how to best feed your family is finally at hand with Nourish. From pregnancy and breastfeeding all the way through adolescence, you’ll get all the advice and irresistible recipes you need for kids of any age to thrive.

The book cover for Nourish by Reshmah Shah, MD, MPH, and Brenda Davis, RD.

The Plant-Based Baby and Toddler by Alexandra Caspero and Whitney English

The earliest days of a baby’s life are some of the most critical, setting the stage for a lifetime of health and wellness, if everything goes right. Addressing the best way to raise kids on a plant-based diet the right way, from infancy and beyond, no question is too tough to tackle. For example:

  • Is a vegan diet healthy for kids?
  • How do you meet their needs for critical nutrients such as iron and B Vitamins?
  • Are traditional fruit and vegetable purees okay as their first solid foods? How do you encourage a baby-led weaning/feeding approach?
  • How do you deal with picky eaters when animal products are off the table?
  • Do children really need milk and other dairy products to build strong bones?

Kids of all ages will devour the 50+ plant-based recipes specifically designed for sensitive tummies and growing appetites.

The book cover for The Plant-Based Baby and Toddler by Alexandra Caspero and Whitney English.

Tips For Finding The Best Plant-Based Diet Books

The greatest resources in the world are useless unless you can find them, which makes this age of connectivity a boon to anyone hungry for knowledge. While conventional brick-and-mortar bookstores are still fine options for purchasing in person, it can be tough to even know where to start looking. Start your research at home to make the most of your time.

  • Be wary of new releases. It’s hard to tell if newer books will hold up to scrutiny the way that older, more vetted options have.
  • Don’t be swayed by blurbs. Seeing a familiar name singing the praises for an unknown author to help convey accountability, but it may or may not carry any real weight. They may just be friends in real life.
  • Check the reviews. It doesn’t have to have five stars to be a winner. Read the worst reviews first to see if they carry any weight or are largely nonsensical. There’s no accounting for that person who got their book delivered with the cover torn off and wants to blame the author for it.
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  1. Love the wide variety of options

  2. Andrea White says:

    so many great books! the china study was so eye-opening. can’t wait to read all on this list!

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