Interested in going vegan or just incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet? The beginning of the journey can be overwhelming because we are exposed to so much contradictory information and more significantly; our food choices have a huge impact on our day-to-day living. What will I be able to have at that family dinner? Do I need to take any supplements? What about calcium and protein?
The most vital ingredient in succeeding is being prepared; knowing what to expect, being clear about why you have decided to do this and what exactly you will be eating. I was a vegetarian for nearly 15 years before going fully vegan and in that time I never even considered the ladder; I thought it was just too extreme and I could never give up cheese. Little did I know as going vegan ended up being one of the best decisions I made in my life.
So, take some time to educate yourself and stock your fridge with the right foods. Find healthier versions of your favorite recipes for when cravings hit (because they will). Chances are you’ll also encounter some resistance from family and friends who, although well intentioned, may not fully understand the vegan diet. By being prepared you can be confident in your words and actions. Below is a list of films, books and websites I have personally loved and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to get you started.
Forks Over Knives (2012) This documentary has a real health awareness angle and explores the possibility of reversing several chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes and coronary artery disease through diet. The film advocates the whole foods plant based diet that is low in fat and avoids processed foods. If you only watch one documentary, make it this one, as it’s heavily evidence based and very positive & inspiring.
Food Matters (2008 ) This documentary also considers the role of nutrition in preventing and reversing chronic diseases and takes a closes look at the healthcare industry and how it’s role is not really promoting wellbeing or preventing diseases but treating symptoms which is far more profitable. The film highlights the importance of taking charge of your own health and wellbeing. Highly recommended!
Food Choices (2016) This is one of the newest health documentaries that I had the opportunity to watch during the early screenings but it should be openly released during the summer. I really liked the format of the film because it was clearly structured around relevant questions people new to the plant based lifestyle may have which is also a great introduction for skeptics. The documentary focuses on the role of nutrition for greater health but also it’s impact on the environment and the lives of other living species.
Skinny Bitch (2007) This is marketed for women who want to loose weight but its ultimate aim is to get the reader healthy. I would highly recommend this to people completely new to the vegan lifestyle because its written in a clever, engaging and often times hilarious way that gets the points across in a very accessible manner.
The China Study (2006) The most comprehensive study of nutrition ever conducted. This book follows T. Colin Campbell’s career from the early days and explains his early research which made him questions everything he has been taught about nutrition. The book also breaks down many scientific concept in a very accessible manner (the formation of cancers and the composition of macro nutrients to name a few).
The Starch Solution (2013) In this book Dr McDougall explores the history of starch based foods such as potatoes, corn and rice and dives deep into the misconceptions we have about these foods thanks to a society that encourages us to curb carbohydrates.
Bonus! Dr McDougall has a free e-book titled “Food Poisioning” available online with instant access and it can be found here.
Nutrition Facts – This website is a great resource for those interested in learning more about nutrition and wellness in general. It includes constantly updates articles and videos based on the latest nutritional research and dips into topics such as chemical exposure and the safety of supplementation to name a few.
Cronometer – While I don’t advocate counting calories, I do see the benefit in logging the foods eaten in a day as it allows you to see the total numbers of macro and micronutrients consumed. It’s very useful in making sure you are getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals and would be especially useful to people new to the lifestyle worried about whether they are getting all the nutrients they need.