If you’re like I was, you might not be sure why people decide to adopt vegan lifestyles. Sure, you understand that some people love animals, but you don’t have to kill animals to get dairy and eggs, right? Once you start to look into the topic, you quickly realize how much of our food system is hidden and how many issues veganism truly addresses. What follows is an overview of the ten best books on veganism. These books elucidate the ethical, environmental and health related reasons people go vegan. The only thing you’ll wish is that you read them sooner.
- Best overview of veganism
- Best Social Justice Focused Books on Veganism
- Best Health-Focused Books on Veganism
- Best Climate-Focused Books on Veganism
- Support to remain vegan in a not-yet-vegan world
- Which of these top books on veganism most speaks to you?
Best overview of veganism
1. 72 Reasons to Be Vegan: Why Plant-Based, Why Now by Gene Stone
If you have a casual interest in veganism and are only ever going to read one book on the topic, let it be this one. This casual read offers a brief overview of the many varied reasons people adopt veganism. In a friendly, empathetic tone, the authors provide chapters of only a few pages about the varied benefits of veganism.
Chapters have intriguing titles like, “You can save money,” “Pandemics like COVID-19 are preventable,” “We’re not lions,” “Cows love classical music,” “Fish feel pain,” “Dude – your erections; Gals – your clitoris”, “Beans help you live longer,” “Meat is the new tobacco,” and “You can be veganish.” With wit and humor, the authors cut to the chase to make a case for veganism that could win over just about any audience.
Best Social Justice Focused Books on Veganism
2. Why Vegan?: Eating Ethically by Peter Singer
Written by the pioneering philosopher of animal rights, Australian author Peter Singer asserts that exploiting certain animals (speciesism) is as morally egregious as racism and sexism. Singer also wrote the 1975 book Animal Liberation, which PETA termed a “philosophical bombshell”. It was the first its kind to argue that we must rethink our food system because farmed animals can suffer.
Forty-five years later, he evaluates the progress of the animal rights movement in his 2020 book Why Vegan?: Eating Ethically. The book includes a collection of his most consequential essays, such as “If Fish Could Scream,” “The Case for Going Vegan,” “The Two Dark Sides of COVID-19,” and more. His essays go beyond challenging the morality of eating animals to highlight the devastation animal farming wreaks on our planet and public health.
3. Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows by Dr. Melanie Joy
Why is it that most people in Western society are horrified by eating some sentient animals (e.g. dogs and cats), but eat others (e.g. pigs, cows, chickens, fish) without a second thought? The answer is an invisible, dominant psychological system called carnism. It conditions us to accept the killing of some animals, yet adore others is called carnism. Unbeknownst to us, it drives us to act against our own values. Author and social psychologist Melanie Joy eloquently appeals to these values we all already have. In doing so, she helps us take off the blinders to see what is all around us.
4. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
Foer balances empathy and understanding for meat-eaters with a strong case against eating meat from factory farms in this extremely well-researched book. He makes mention of the fact that all the same reasons people stop eating meat apply to other animal products like dairy and eggs.
However, he stops short of making a clear case for veganism out of a pragmatic belief that vegetarianism is currently more acceptable in the mainstream. I became a more committed vegetarian after reading his book, yet I believe that if a clear case for veganism had been laid out, I (and others) may have gone all the way.
5. This is Vegan Propaganda (And Other Lies the Meat Industry Tells You) by Ed Winters
Drawing from over six years of research and conversations with farmers, slaughterhouse workers, animal rights philosophers, environmentalists and everyday people from street outreach and public speaking events, activist Ed Winters (“Earthling Ed”) presents an irrefutable case for veganism. The books serves as both an essential tool for current vegans to feel confident in explaining veganism to others and a comprehensive introduction to the ethical and environmental aspects of veganism for the vegan-curious.
Best Health-Focused Books on Veganism
6. How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Dr. Michael Greger
In easy-to-understand writing, author Dr. Michael Greger (founder of NutritionFacts.org) shares the scientific evidence that a plant-based diet can prevent and reverse many chronic diseases. A chapter is dedicated to how dietary changes can address each of these top fifteen most deadly health conditions, such as heart disease, cancers, diabetes and more. With practical advice to implement in our daily lives based on the latest nutritional science and free from industry bias, Dr. Greger’s book provides just the prescription we need for longer, healthier lives.
7. The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted and the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, and Long-term Health by T. Colin Campbell
This foundational book in the whole food plant-based nutrition movement provides compelling evidence of the power of plant-based diets and incriminates the animal agriculture industry. Campbell reveals how common chronic health conditions like cancers (breast, prostate, colorectal), heart disease, kidney stones, high cholesterol, multiple sclerosis, osteoporosis, dementia and more can be prevented and even reversed on a plant-based diet.
He pulls the curtain on how the animal agriculture industry has long colluded with the government and how the food and supplement industries have created biased nutrition research in academia. Although a dense read, this book is a cornerstone and often-referenced source of information on the overwhelming evidence for plant-based nutrition.
Best Climate-Focused Books on Veganism
8. We are the Weather by Jonathan Safran Foer
True to its name, We are the Weather highlights that eating resource-intensive animal products perpetuates the climate crisis, while transitioning to a plant-based diet is the single biggest action we can have on slowing climate change. Foer acknowledges how easy it is for us to feel apathetic because of the immense scale of the tragedy.
In the face of the terrifying statistics about the natural disasters, weather extremes, food insecurity, and biodiversity loss that climate change is causing, we might feel that what we do is futile. Yet with the reminder that what we do now can save individual lives, Foer urges us to action.
9. Eat for the Planet by Nil Zacharias and Gene Stone
A compelling coffee-table book full of infographics that drive home the fact that transitioning to a plant-based is imperative for the health of the planet. Written by entrepreneur Nil Zacharias, this book explores how our animal-based food system is devastating the earth through factory farms, destruction of soil fertility, and greenhouse gases, in addition to perpetuating food insecurity. He makes the case that we cannot be environmentalists while still eating animal-based foods. Eating well isn’t just about living into old age – it’s about making sure the world is inhabitable when we get there.
Support to remain vegan in a not-yet-vegan world
10. The Joyful Vegan: How to Stay Vegan in a World that Wants You to Eat Meat, Dairy and Eggs by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
Many people attempt veganism for a time and then cave to the social pressures of eating meat and animal products. In Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s heartfelt, evidence-based book, she provides wisdom from decades of being to guide vegans in navigating these challenges. She offers strategies for communicating effectively with vegans and non-vegans, sharing enthusiastically without proselytizing, finding social support, and feeling at peace as a vegan in a non-vegan world. With these tools, vegans can feel socially at ease without compromising our values.
Which of these top books on veganism most speaks to you?
Educating ourselves about the plethora of causes that benefit when we transition to a plant-based diet and vegan lifestyle is essential for all of us to begin and stay strong on our journeys. But, we differ in the topics we find most compelling. Which of these top ten vegan books do you find most inspiring?