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Tell VT: Best Book for a Vegetarian Newbie?

Tell VT: What’s the first book you’d recommend to a friend going vegetarian and why? Share your answer below, and see what others have to say. 

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The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II, which explains the health-protective benefits of a plant-based diet. Once you read this book, there is no going back to your old diet.

The Jungle by Upton Sinclair

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran-Foer!

Animal Liberation did it for me. Once you read what a factory farm is really like, you'll never forget. Every time you see an animal, you'll remember. More so, watch the movie Earthlings.

Farm Sanctuary by Gene Baur. It changed the entire way I view the food industry and I will never eat animal based food products again. China Study is also a great one that thoroughly explains the benefits of a plant based diet.

My first reading of vegetarianism was not a book, it was Vegetarian Times Magazine. The second piece of knowledge was the programs on PBS with many notables then various recipe books. The Campbell book of The China Study was also mixed in there. The logic of it all is apparent.

May All Be Fed by John Robbins is compassionate, informative and inspiring. It never talks down, and is never unnecessarily critical. Another good one is Food For Life by Neal Barnard. Both books give compelling arguments for the vegan choice and are absent the smug righteousness that some books employ. Also, both have great recipes.

Eat To Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman

Mark Bittman's Food Matters was the first book I read that really challenged me and got me thinking. This led to our family of five eating a reduced meat diet which eventually became meat-free because we felt so great!

Alicia Silvertone's The Kind Diet. This book is so informative on many levels. It teaches being kind to our bodies with our food choices and kind to the planet with our choices as well. The book educates about global and personal issues as related to eating a plant based diet. The best part is that book gives guidance on how to simply "dabble" in the vegetarian lifestyle, how to go the full vegetarian route or to take it full throttle as a vegan. Great recipies to help you get started. Written with facts, humor and passion to encourage a healthy lifestyle to benefit your body and our planet.

I would start them with a nutrition book. I read " Nutrition for Dummies". It gave me a good understanding of what my body really needs and why it needs it. I never had to wonder if I was getting enough protein or iron.

Diet For a Small Planet - by Frances Moore Lappé - I gave this book to my husband (then BF) when we were 17 and it's still one of our favorites.

The absolute best book for a person considering going vegetarian or vegan is Skinny Bitch. It is filled with down to earth advice backed up with scientific research.

Forget the preachy books on being vegetarian (or cutting down on meat), instead I would recommend the cookbook Passionate Vegetarian. It reads like a steamy romance novel to vegetables and is loaded with gourmet-esque, global and comfort foods. It is my favorite food read of all time. The only drawback is there are no photo shots of the recipes and meals.

I really love "The Kind Diet" by Alicia Silverstone. It has great advice for those that are just starting out all the way to those wanting a full raw vegan diet. It also teaches us how to be kind to our planet and our bodies. Super great book. I tell everyone about it.

This Crazy Vegan Life by Christina Pirello. I have been back and forth between vegetarian, pescetarian, and vegan for the past three years (feeling amazing when sticking to a completely plant-based lifestyle). I had fallen off the vegan wagon for a few months and I visited my brother. When I was going to bed I saw this book on the nightstand, that as it turns out, he saw and thought of me so he picked it up. It was just what I needed to get back on track. Very informative and has excellent recipes!

I really enjoyed the book "Eating Animals" by Jonathan Safran Foer. His arguments for vegetarianism are well thought out and researched. The author is entertaining and since he used to eat meat, he doesn't try to make readers feel bad if they're not already strict vegetarians.

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran-Foer - My husband calls it the book that changed his life, even though he never read it. I read it in August 2009 & we've been meat free since then.

I would recommend The China Study (T. Colin Campbell) and The Complete Idiot's Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition (Julieanna Hever.) Understanding the profound effects of food on the human body, present as well as future health and quality of life is inspirational.

If you don't have a strong circle of support among friends, family, and/or co-workers, read "Living Among Meat-Eaters" by Carol J. Adams. It gives suggestions for gracefully getting through just about every scenario.

MAD COWBOY: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won't Eat Meat by Howard Lyman I had the privilege of hearing this man speak on campus 12 years ago; it gave me the impetus to finally try it out and I've never gone back.

"The Complete Encyclopedia of Vegetables and Vegetarian Cooking" by Roz Denny is my most favorite book to gift to vegetarian friends. It contains a great detailed vegetable encyclopedia in the front and recipes that range from almost vegetarian (pescatarian) to vegan, so it's useful at all stages of a vegetarian's journey. Plus the photos are lovely and lush. It's out of print now, but sometimes a decently priced one pops up on Amazon or in a local bookstore. Keep an eye out.

I would recommend 'The Cafe Fresh Cookbook' by Mary Farrell,Dublin, Ireland, a vast array of simple seasonal recipes for a healthy vegetarian recipes.

Chloe's Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli, winner of Cupcake Wars, for fun, easy and delicious vegan recipes - especially desserts.

Eating Animals - by Jonathan Safran Foer. This book should be read by everyone. The basic questions of, "What ought I feed my family and children?" and "Where does my food come from?" provoke the reader to question their attitude towards food consumption. This book is an easy read, funny at times and heart-wrenching at others, but Jonathan Safran Foer encourages the reader to reanalyze their food choices.

The reason my copy of The Vegetarian Epicure, Vol. 2, by Anna Thomas is falling apart is because it taught me how to cook, as well as supplying me with great vegetarian recipes from various international cuisines. Plenty of cheese, eggs, butter, and cream for lubricating my transition to vegetarian. There are other, 'greater' books, but this is the one that I wore out.

The New Becoming Vegetarian: The Essential Guide To a Healthy Vegetarian Diet by Vesanto Melina and Brenda Davis is one I would definitely recommend. It helped me make the transition to a veg diet with nutrition information and social guidelines. It answered my questions and helped me to answer questions of others related to my eating choices. It also helped me make sure I was making balanced choices and offered some recipes to get started. I still use it as a reference for nutrition information and I've been veg for years now.

"The Quantum Wellness Cleanse," by Kathy Freston did it for me. This book is inspiring and the recipes delicious.

Engine No 2 cookbook. Great info and recipes.

The Vegetarian Epicure (my original bible; I'm on my third copy). Laurel's Kitchen introduced me to nutritional yeast and several other then-exotic treats. I recently purchased Mark Bittman's How To Cook Everything Vegetarian. This was a birthday gift for my niece, but I made a few copies before Chelsea received it. She's a newbie, and I'm having a wonderful time being her mentor.

Being Vegetarian FOR DUMMIES, by Suzanne Havala.

I always think you win people's hearts to vegetarianism through their stomachs so I would recommend a really inspiring and delicious cookbook like Super Natural Everyday by Heidi Swanson because it has gorgeous photos of the recipes and the food is so yummy who could resist?

mark bittman's food matters. a great "gateway" book for meat-eaters, emphasizing reduced meat and vegetarian meals.

The Vegetarian Female by Anika Avery-Grant, RD

Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen, Copyright 1977, 1992. I bought this as a University student for $25 in 1992 which was a huge chunk of my budget. It has paid for itself a hundred times over.

"When Elephants Weep: the emotional lives of animals," I think everyone should read this book, you will never think about animals in the same way again. Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson and Susan McCarthy explore the emotions and personalities of animals as well as the inner workings of their social and family lives. I can't recommend it enough.

Forks Over Knives

How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. It's fantastically easy to use, has literally everything you can imagine and I use it all the time.

Beside your great magazine, I would recommend Mollie Katzen's, THE NEW MOOSEWOOD COOKBOOK. It has anything from simple to more complex recipes that always seem to turn out well.

The Passionate Vegetarian by Crescent Dragonwagon This book is full of so much adventure and creative and exotic taste that a person beginning vegetarian eating would feel a gain in options rather than any loss.

Without a doubt, I recommend Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian"- it is a tome that takes you from the basics of how to select each ingredient to how to prepare dishes with infinite varieties and even has recipes for preparing from-scratch cheeses, tofu, and sour-dough. It's great for a cooks of all levels and will lead you down a rabbit hole of vegetarian experimentation.

The first book I'd recommend is "The Vegetarian Table" by The Pampered Chef. It has easy meatless and vegan recipes that are very easy to prepare and use everyday ingredients. This was my first cookbook when we decided to try more vegetarian dishes and I love it!

Supermarket Vegan by Donna Klein is wonderful. This is food for real people that can easily be found in any grocery store. Her watermelon gazpacho on page 27 is superb. In fact I have a long list of recipes I want to try...haven't been disappointed yet!

"Walden" by Henry David Thoreau- the original vegetarian hipster. He talks about his life living in the woods, observing nature, and eating food that he grows himself. He also makes an argument that vegetarianism is the diet of geniuses.

Vegetarian cooking for everyone by Deborah Madison. I have referred to this book on many occasions. I have cooked for meat and non meat eaters alike and everyone have enjoyed the recipes. Plus, not only does the book provide recipes, but also educates you on different foods.

Twenty-five years ago I read "The Philosophy of Vegetarianism" by Daniel Dombrowski and was inspired to stop eating all flesh foods. At 73 years of age I take no medications, am the same weight I was in high school, teach dance, and have abundant energy. I didn't do it for my health, but for the health of the animals. It's karmic that it affected me in such a positive way.

Veganomicon by Moskowitz and Romero is my bible. It's the best! It's easy cooking and the witty authors make it fun to read. We love the recipe for "Snobby Joes", a vegan version of sloppy joes. Even my grandkids love it. Yum!

I would highly recommend Michael Pollan's "In Defense of Food". While it may not advocate for a 100% vegetarian diet, it certainly will educate someone about just what is going into the food that they are eating, and why returning to a non-processed, balanced, and mostly vegetarian diet is the best thing for your health and the planet!

The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner. A motivational book that sums up a study of longetivity and health in specific regions of the globe. Results show that health is no accident and those who live long healthy lives eat a whole foods plant based diet. A wonderful book, easy to read and inspirational.

I would recommend Anna Thomas' Love Soup because it is comprehensive, seasonally organized, with absolutely delicious recipes. It goes well with a trip to the farmer's market, giving great ideas for what to do with an abundance of seasonal local produce after you come home. Her soups are so delectable that one could easily be seduced away from an animal-based diet. I am in my fifties and have been interested in healthful, vegetarian food since I was 21 and read Diet for a Small Planet, which made me rethink my choices from square one. But while a good philosophical book can change your thinking, a great cookbook makes it happen on the way to your table and taste buds.