Top 20 Plant-Based Diet Books

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These plant-based diet books will help empower you with a wealth of information to take control of your life and possibly prevent and even reverse chronic health conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

plant based books stacked on white book shelf with the china study standing up

Adopting a plant-based diet lifestyle is one of the most powerful things you can do for your health.
An expanding body of scientific evidence consistently supports the notion that numerous chronic illnesses can be managed, prevented, and potentially reversed by adopting a nutritious, plant-based diet.

We’ve turned to the growing plant-based community to compile a list of the most popular and helpful books of all time from the top plant-based experts who have been advocating for this way of life for decades. These are their picks and the books that have helped them adopt and maintain a plant-based lifestyle.

These are books on nutrition and the science behind it. If you are looking for cookbooks, we have a whole list of terrific plant-based cookbooks as well.

The feature photo does not include all of the books on the list and is only the books that I have on hand and not the complete list.

What is a plant-based diet?

whole-food plant-based (WFPB) diet is similar to a vegan diet in that both ways of eating avoid meat, dairy, and eggs. However, WFPB takes it to a further level of eating closer to the plant.

Eating plant-based, whole foods means fueling your body from the following food groups.

  • WHOLE GRAINS – This group includes brown rice, millet, oats, barley, corn, bulgur, and all products made from whole grains including bread, cereals, pasta, and more. 
  • LEGUMES – This group includes beans, peas, and lentils. They are hearty, high-protein foods that are rich in calciumironcholesterol-lowering soluble fiber, and even traces of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • VEGETABLES – These foods are loaded with vitamins and minerals, are very low in fat, and like all plant foods, have no cholesterol at all.
  • FRUIT – These are vitamin-rich and have no cholesterol. They do have natural sugar but are low on the glycemic index, except for watermelon and pineapple.

Recommended foods do NOT include meat, dairy products, eggs, added oils, or most processed foods.

Can you lose weight on a vegan diet?

Plant-based diets can help you effectively lose weight when done well. In our article about plant-based weight loss, Dr. Neal Barnard, MD shares important tips for success.

If your goal is to lose weight, it’s advisable to keep your daily fat intake between 20 to 30 grams. This limit is significantly lower than the typical amount consumed by many individuals on a Standard American Diet. However, it can be easily met on a healthy plant-based diet because you are avoiding animal products and restricting the consumption of fatty foods.

In addition to avoiding animal products, here are some easy ways to cut the fat and all the calories that go with it.

  • Instead of frying in oil, try sautéing in water, in vegetable broth, or even in a dry pan (e.g., for onions or garlic).
  • Skip nuts and nut butters. Yes, peanut butter and roasted almonds are tasty, but they are very high in fat calories.
  • Top salads with nonfat dressing, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, horseradish, or seasoned rice vinegar instead of oily dressings.
  • On a sandwich, use mustard or pickle relish instead of mayonnaise. A squirt of seasoned vinegar works great on a sub.
  • On toast, there is no need for butter or margarine if you’ve bought good quality bread.
  • Top baked potatoes with black pepper, mustard, or salsa instead of butter.

Voted best all-time plant-based diet books

We reached out to people in the whole food, plant-based community to ask which plant-based diet books were most helpful to them as they got started and persevered over the years and decades. This is the list they came up with to share and inspire others.

#1 – The China Study / Author: T. Colin Campell, PhD (496 pages)

More than 30 years ago, nutrition researcher T. Colin Campbell and his team at Cornell, in partnership with teams in China and England, embarked upon the China Study, the most comprehensive study ever undertaken on the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease. What they found when combined with findings in Colin’s laboratory, opened their eyes to the dangers of a diet high in animal protein and the unparalleled health benefits of a whole foods, plant-based diet. View on Amazon

#2 – Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease / Author: Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D. (320 pages)

The New York Times bestselling guide to the lifesaving diet that can both prevent and help reverse the effects of heart disease. Based on the groundbreaking results of his twenty-year nutritional study, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn illustrates that a plant-based, oil-free diet can not only prevent the progression of heart disease but can also reverse its effects. View on Amazon

#3 – How Not to Die / Author: Michael Greger., M.D. (576 pages)

In How Not to Die, Dr. Michael Greger, the internationally-renowned nutrition expert, physician, and founder of, examines the fifteen top causes of premature death in America–heart disease, various cancers, diabetes, Parkinson’s, high blood pressure, and more–and explains how nutritional and lifestyle interventions can sometimes trump prescription pills and other pharmaceutical and surgical approaches to help prevent and reverse these diseases, freeing us to live healthier lives. View on Amazon

#4 – The Starch Solution / Author: John A. McDougall, M.D. (576 pages)

Bestselling author John A. McDougall and his kitchen-savvy wife, Mary, prove that a starch-rich diet can actually help you attain your weight loss goals, prevent a variety of ills, and even cure common diseases. By fueling your body primarily with carbohydrates rather than proteins and fats, you will feel satisfied, boost energy, and look and feel your best. View on Amazon

#5 – Fibre Fuelled / Author: Will Bulsiewicz, LI (368 pages)

The benefits of restrictive diets like paleo and keto have been touted for more than a decade, but as award-winning gastroenterologist Dr Will Bulsiewicz illuminates in this groundbreaking book, the explosion of studies on the microbiome show that elimination diets are hazardous to our health. What research clearly indicates is that gut health is the key to boosting our metabolism, balancing our hormones, and taming the inflammation that causes a host of diseases. And the scientifically proven way to fuel our guts is with dietary fibre from an abundant variety of colourful plants. View on Amazon

#6 – Program for Reversing Heart Disease / Author: Neal D. Barnard, M.D. (288 pages)

Revised and updated, this latest edition of Dr. Barnard’s groundbreaking book features a new preface, updates to diagnostic and monitoring standards, recent research studies, and fresh success stories of people who have eliminated their diabetes by following this life-changing plan. View on Amazon

#7 – Forks Over Knives / Author: Alona Pulde, M.D. & Matthew Lederman, M.D. (352 pages)

The trailblazing film Forks Over Knives helped spark a medical and nutritional revolution. Backed by scientific research, the film’s doctors and expert researchers made a radical but convincing case that modern diseases can be prevented and often reversed by leaving meat, dairy, and highly refined foods off the plate and adopting a whole-food, plant-based diet instead. Now they show you how to put this life-saving, delicious diet into practice in your own life. View on Amazon

#8 – The Pleasure Trap / Author: Douglas J. Lisle, PhD. & Alan Goldhamer, D.C. (225 pages)

A wake-up call to even the most health-conscious Americans, this book challenges conventional wisdom about sickness and unhappiness in today’s contemporary culture and offers ground-breaking solutions for achieving change. Inspired by stunning original research, comprehensive clinical studies, and their successes with thousands of patients, the authors construct a new paradigm for the psychology of health that offers fresh hope for anyone stuck in a self-destructive cycle. View on Amazon

#9 – The Blue Zones / Author: Dan Buettner (336 pages)

Bestselling author, longevity expert, and National Geographic Explorer Dan Buettner reports on health, fitness, diet, and aging, drawing on his research from extraordinarily long-lived communities–Blue Zones–around the globe. Buettner has launched a major public health initiative to transform cities based on principles from this book, an updated and expanded edition of his bestselling classic on longevity. His prescriptions for lifestyle, nutrition, outlook, and stress-coping practices will add years to your life and life to your years.  View on Amazon

#10 – Eat To Live / Author: Joel Fuhrman, M.D. (400 pages)

This is a book that will let you live longer, reduce your need for medications, and improve your health dramatically. It is a book that will change the way you want to eat. Most importantly, if you follow the Eat To Live™ diet, you will lose weight faster than you ever thought possible.  View on Amazon

#11 – The Food Revolution / Author: John Robbins (400 pages)

A book from the over-one-million-copies-sold author who made popular the connections between diet, physical health, animal cruelty, and environmentalism. A revolution in food-politics. When John Robbins released an early version of this book in 1987, he took the first steps in the food revolution. His insight into the harm caused by America’s eating habits was a wake-up call for many. View on Amazon

#12 – Protein Aholic / Author: Garth Davis, M.D. (400 pages)

Whether you are seeing a doctor, nutritionist, or a trainer, all of them advise to eat more protein. Foods, drinks, and supplements are loaded with extra protein. Many people use protein for weight control, to gain or lose pounds, while others believe it gives them more energy and is essential for a longer, healthier life. Now, Dr. Garth Davis, an expert in weight loss asks, “Is all this protein making us healthier?” The answer, he emphatically argues, is NO. Too much protein is actually making us sick, fat, and tired, according to Dr. Davis. If you are getting adequate calories in your diet, there is no such thing as protein deficiency. View on Amazon

#13 – Mastering Diabetes / Author: Cyrus Khamatta, Ph.D. & Robby Barbaro, MPH (400 pages)

Current medical wisdom advises that anyone suffering from diabetes or prediabetes should eat a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet. But in this revolutionary book, Cyrus Khambatta, Ph.D., and Robby Barbaro, MPH, rely on a century of research to show that advice is misguided. While it may improve short-term blood glucose control, such a diet also increases the long-term risk for chronic diseases like cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, chronic kidney disease, and fatty liver disease. The revolutionary solution is to eat a low-fat plant-based whole-food diet, the most powerful way to reverse insulin resistance in all types of diabetes: type 1, type 1.5, type 2, prediabetes, and gestational diabetes. View on Amazon

#14 – Undo It! / Author: Dean Ornish, M.D. & Anne Ornish (528 pages)

NATIONAL BESTSELLER • By the pioneer of lifestyle medicine, a simple, scientific program proven to often reverse the progression of the most common and costly chronic diseases and even begin reversing aging at a cellular level! Long rated “#1 for Heart Health” by U.S. News & World Report, Dr. Ornish’s Program is now covered by Medicare when offered virtually at home. View on Amazon

#15 – The Cheese Trap / Author: Neal D. Barnard, M.D. FACC (320 pages)

In The Cheese Trap, Dr. Neal Barnard presents a comprehensive program to help readers break free of their cheese addiction so they can lose weight, boost energy, and improve their overall health. This easy-to-follow diet features a treasury of healthy recipes that will tame even the toughest cravings-from pizza, to lasagna, to ice cream and cheesecake. View on Amazon

#16 – Becoming Vegan / Author: Brenda Davis, RD & Vesanto Melina MS, RD (611 pages)

Internationally acclaimed dietitians Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina specifically designed this fully referenced, comprehensive edition to meet the needs of health professionals, academic librarians, and curriculum developers as well as lay readers with a deep interest in nutrition. View on Amazon

#17 – Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition / Author: T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. & Howard Jacobson, Ph.D. (352 pages)

In The China Study, T. Colin Campbell (alongside his son, Thomas M. Campbell) revolutionized the way we think about our food with the evidence that a whole food, plant-based diet is the healthiest way to eat. Now, in Whole, he explains the science behind that evidence, the ways our current scientific paradigm ignores the fascinating complexity of the human body, and why, if we have such overwhelming evidence that everything we think we know about nutrition is wrong, our eating habits haven’t changed. View on Amazon

#18 – The Alzheimer’s Solution / Author: Dean & Ayesha Sherzai M.D. (368 pages)

Based on the largest clinical and observational study to date, neurologists and codirectors of the Brain Health and Alzheimer’s Prevention Program at Loma Linda University Medical Center, Drs. Dean and Ayesha Sherzai, offer in The Alzheimer’s Solution the first comprehensive program for preventing Alzheimer’s disease and improving cognitive function. View on Amazon

#19 – Your Body in Balance / Author: Neal Barnard M.D. (352 pages)

This nationally bestselling book explains the shocking new science of how hormones are wreaking havoc on the body, and the delicious solution that improves health, reduces pain, and even helps to shed weight. View on Amazon

#20 – The Plant-Based Athlete / Author: Matt Fraizer & Robert Cheeke (352 pages)

The only research-based guide for connecting a plant-based diet with peak athletic performance, featuring interviews with professional athletes who’ve made the switch from meat to plants. The book reveals the incontrovertible proof that the human body does not need meat, eggs, or dairy to be strong. Instead, research shows that a consciously calibrated plant-based diet offers the greatest possible recovery times, cell oxidation, injury prevention, and restorative sleep, and allows athletes to train more effectively, with better results. View on Amazon

More plant-based diet resources

For those of you new to the whole food plant-based lifestyle, we’ve created a FREE 7-Day Plant-Based Menu Planner to help you get started!

About Terri Edwards

Hi guys! I am the content creator behind EatPlant-Based and a licensed Food for Life instructor with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. I am passionate about sharing healthy recipes and tips to empower others to get healthy.  I’m so glad you’re here! Read More…

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