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A Vegan Starter Resource Guide: Books, Films and Cooking

A friend emailed me last week for a list of books and films she could pass along to a friend who was interested in becoming vegetarian. It was just the kick in the butt I needed to finish this post of vegan resources that I'd been mulling over for some time. If you're thinking about giving veganism or vegetarianism a shot, I've got a few suggestions for a smooth transition.

Books

1. Veganist: Lose Weight, Get Healthy, Change the World by Kathy Freston

 

You may have seen Kathy on Oprah or Ellen promoting this book or her latest book The Lean: A Revolutionary (and Simple!) 30-Day Paln for Healthy, Lasting Weight Loss.

She knows her stuff about health, and her writing style is super accessible. I like Kathy. I like what she stands for. I like how she presents information. Her books consistently land on the NY Times best-seller lists. One caveat: If you enjoy a more, shall we say, sophisticated read, or if you are already well-versed in veganism, this may not be for you. Try The China Study instead.

If you prefer books like Veganist or The Lean, also try The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone and Skinny Bitch by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. Both are very good.

2. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

 

Once again, you may have seen Johnathan on Ellen. He's a young novelist best known for his fiction books Everything is Illuminated and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (made into a Sandra Bullock/Tom Hanks movie). Eating Animals is his first nonfiction book. More about factory farming than health, Jonathan weaves personal stories throughout, such as why he became a vegetarian and what brought him to writing this book. Man, he's such a brilliant writer. It reads like a novel. I wanted to throw in the writing towel after reading this. Just great.

3. Becoming Vegan: The Complete Guide to Adopting A Plant-Based Diet by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina

 

Written by a registered dietician, this book is about health--what you should be eating and why. It's impressive, so well-written and researched, yet easy to comprehend. You'll know everything you need to know about veganism and health after reading this book.

4. Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness by Scott Jurek, Steve Friedman

 

This book is for the athlete (and anyone else) concerned about whether a plant-based diet can sustain you. The answer is a resounding YES! And according to Scott Jurek, it's a superior diet. Scott is famous in the running world and the vegan world. I've been hearing about him for years. He's the dominant runner in a grueling sport called ultrarunning. This was one of Amazon's "Best Books of the Month." I confess I haven't read it yet, but having just bought hiking boots, it's next on my list! Reviews say it's a great read: uber-inspiring and nutritionally informative.

Films

5. Forks over Knives

 

 

Compelling, influential and smart

The late great Roger Ebert said about this movie, "A film that can save your life." Read his review here.

This documentary examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the so-called "diseases of affluence" that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting our present menu of animal-based and processed foods. It's based on the book The China Study. I know more people that became vegan after watching this movie than any other. (No animal cruelty footage.) Watch it now on iTunes, Netflix, or Amazon.

6. Vegucated

Entertaining, insightful and inspiring 

I LOVED this movie. Vegucated is a guerrilla-style documentary that follows three meat and cheese loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks and learn what it's all about. (Very little animal cruelty footage, a few shots.) Watch it now on iTunes, Netflix, or Amazon.

7. Got the Facts on Milk

Playful, hard-hitting and informative

This often funny documentary dares to question the conventional wisdom of the much publicized health benefits of milk and dairy products. Ed Begley, Jr said, "This film is brilliant." It's a cool film (great graphics and animation, young, hip filmmakers and shooters) but it's also hard-hitting. (Very little animal cruelty footage, maybe a shot or two.) Watch it now on their website.

8. Earthlings

Intense, eye-opening and game-changing

Narrated by actor Joaquin Phoenix ("Of all the films I have ever made, this is the one gets people talking the most.") and music by Moby, this documentary explores humanity's exploitation of animals not just for food, but for clothing, experimentation, etc. My fiance went vegan after watching this film. Movies like this are hard to watch, but it's the least we can do to gain insight into cruelty that animals endure behind closed doors. Suck it up and watch it, or just listen to the information. We owe animals that much. Watch it now for free in the above video. (Animal cruelty footage.)

Food

9. Vegan Cooking for Carnivores Cookbook by Roberto Martin

 

What can I say about my favorite cookbook that I blog about all the time, except that I am obsessed? Five days a week my fiance makes me something from this cookbook--Mac and "Cheese," Tofu "Egg" Salad, Risotto. How lucky am I?! Written by Roberto Martin, who is Ellen and Portia's personal chef. I wish he'd just hurry up and open a restaurant in LA so all of us can partake in the glory of his delicious creations.

10. Post Punk Kitchen: Recipe Site

 

This is the recipe site of author/chef extraordinaire Isa Chandra Moskowitz, who, by the way, now lives in Omaha (my birthplace, and a city that craves more vegan businesses). I have her cookbooks Veganomicon (chickpea cutlets!) Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. Her chocolate chip cookies are the best I've ever tasted and made. I also bake the Banana Bread from her site on a regular basis. (PS. with 1/2 cup of Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips added, of course).

11. Happy Cow: Veg and Veg-friendly Restaurant Guide Site

 

Happy Cow was created as a public service to assist travelers and people everywhere find vegan, vegetarian, and healthy food. The Happy Cow app has saved me from eating gross food many times while traveling.

Other resources:

Vegan Starter Kit

I really like this guide. It has loads of great information on vegan products from food to clothing to products.

How to Go Vegan

An online guide that shows you what to buy, what to make, and where to eat.

This blog: Search this blog for "Meatless Monday" and you'll find numerous easy vegan recipes of meals that my fiance and I make regularly. Also, a search for "Favorite Vegan Things" will provide lists of various vegan foods, as well as vegan cosmetic, household, and clothing products that I've found and use regularly.

 

It wasn't easy narrowing down all of the books, films, and sites. And that's a really good sign. Veganism is the future, and it is coming on strong and fast!

I'd love to hear your favorite vegan resources. Pass them along!