There is a wonderful array of plant-based eating resources from which to draw, not only information, but inspiration. I think inspiration is so important because it can help motivate us to take the next step. We can be inspired by someone’s journey from sickness to health, by someone’s athletic feats, or by super-gorgeous food photos. They put the science and information into context, and give us hope.
I here present to you my “Top 3” documentaries, books and websites that have helped inspire me and keep me on the path toward my goal of whole-food plant-based eating. I’ve experienced over the years so much peace and joy simply by changing my food choices. I’ve focussed here on health, but there are many other significant benefits to this lifestyle! I hope you too are inspired.
THE DOCUMENTARY FILMS
Forks Over Knives is a classic! I know this film has impacted many people, my husband included. It’s one of the earlier documentaries on the subject of plant-based eating that gained widespread access through Netflix. (Stream it for free here.) This one focuses on the link between our diet and health.
The Game Changers is a newer, long-awaited film that busts the myth that we need to eat animal products for strength and stamina. It features elite, professional athletes who enhanced their performance after switching to eating plant-based. I like that this film dips into the topic of what humans were likely designed to eat for optimal health, and also the impact of our food choices on the environment. It’s available on Netflix and also for online rental.
What the Health is a second film by the creators of Cowspiracy. This time, they seek to reveal how the American government and a variety of health-related industries are biased against supporting citizens to eat a healthy diet. It includes many interviews with physicians who advocate plant-based eating including Michael Klaper, Milton Mills, Michael Greger, Neal Barnard, Garth Davis and Michelle McMacken. It’s available on Netflix and also for online rental.
I’m a very big fan of How Not to Die! This book is a compelling, practical and an easy read that’s perfect for medical professionals and laypeople alike. The first half is dedicated to the leading causes of death in the U.S. and how they are affected by diet, according to the scientific evidence (references included). The second half covers exactly what to eat and how to go about it. Read here about other important initiatives by this book’s author Michael Greger, MD.
Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease makes my top three for a couple of reasons. One is that heart disease is the second leading cause of death in Canada and we know that it is largely preventable through diet. I spent a weekend on author Caldwell Esselstyn’s family farm for a conference years ago, and he’s the real deal. He’s shown through medical imaging of his research patients how heart disease can be reversed in a lasting way through eating unprocessed, plant-based food. Even though this book was published in 2007, it is still the book and the approach that cardiologist Joel Kahn recommends to his patients with advanced heart disease.
I find that Becoming Vegan is an amazing resource in a textbook format. Published in 2014 and co-authored by Brenda Davis, Canadian Registered Dietician extraordinaire, it has an extensive index that makes everything you ever wanted to know about nutrition easy to find (plus thousands of references to support it). Chapters include proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins, along with other chapters related to various stages of life (e.g. expectant mothers, kids and seniors). The book also has chapters that cover weight loss and vegan athletes. Becoming Vegan is my go-to book for easy-to-find, evidence-based information from a trusted expert.
++ Honourable mention goes to Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman, MD (for weight loss), along with Neal Barnard, MD’s Power Foods for the Brain and Brenda Davis, RD’s The Kick Diabetes Cookbook. The information in these books can not only change lives, but also save them. (See here what happened after my friend Martin read Eat to Live.) If you, like many, are concerned that plant-based eating will be too expensive, Plant-based on a Budget by Toni Okamoto is an excellent resource.
There are now many, many online sources of delicious plant-based recipes to explore. Oh She Glows is one that is simply amazing! Finding recipe creator Angela Liddon’s website (with over one million followers) and cookbook about a year into our plant-based journey was a game-changer. Recipes generally call for unprocessed ingredients that are easy to find in stores. On the whole, they are easy to make and not too time-consuming. I wholeheartedly recommend this website to anyone wanting to make delectable dishes that are enjoyable to all types of eaters.
Minimalist Baker features almost a thousand plant-based recipes online (not to mention the ones printed in a beautiful plant-based cookbook). This brand specialises in recipes requiring 10 ingredients or less, one bowl, or 30 minutes or less to prepare. I’ve tried many of these recipes and have found almost every single one of them to be completely delicious! As with Oh She Glows, the recipes also tend to call for unprocessed ingredients, which is ideal.
NutritionFacts.org is a phenomenon! It is such a treasure trove of evidence-based information about healthy eating. The core of the website is 5-minute videos on a wide variety of topics. Whatever your concern or interest, website founder Michael Greger, MD is sure to have you covered. You can search by typing your topic into the search bar at the top, or by clicking the “view all topics” button half way down. When you access a topic through the “view all topics” option, you’ll often be rewarded with a topic overview (here’s an example for the ketogenic diet). Each video has a transcript tab so you can read what is said in the video, and also a “sources cited” tab so you can see the reference articles upon which the video is based.
++ Honourable mention goes to Food as Prevention (I love how the homepage guides us where to go next on the site based on our starting point) and the World Cancer Research Fund International. Did you know cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada, and that around 40% of cancer cases are preventable? Check out the WCRF site to learn more.
I’m so excited for the plant-based eating movement. I think of it as the future of food! There’ll be so many more sources of inspiration to come. We’ve only just begun.