October 1st is World Vegetarian Day, which was started by the North American Vegetarian Society in 1977.
There are a number of reasons that people choose to become vegetarian, from wanting to end cruelty to animals and the worst effects of climate change, to wanting better health.
To celebrate World Vegetarian Day, here are twenty books and cookbooks to inspire you. If you have some recommendations that you don’t see on this list, share them with us in the comments!
- Animal Liberation by Peter Singer – This has become known as the most essential animal rights book thus far written. Peter Singer is a philosopher and in this non-fiction book argues that eating animals is unethical. His views are definitely considered controversial, but this book is required reading if you want to learn more about the animal rights movement.
- Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer – Foer’s 2010 book, while not as popular as Animal Liberation, is just as essential. The author combines his own experiences with the horrors of meat production.
- Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows: An Introduction to Carnism by Melanie Joy, PhD – All over the world, people eat certain animals while loving others. This book examines why that is, along with teaching the reader about how harmful factory farming is, to both the animals and the employees.
- Some We Love, Some We Hate, Some We Eat: Why It’s So Hard to Think Straight About Animals by Hal Herzog – In a similar vein as the previous book by Melanie Joy, this book also examines the psychology of why it’s okay to eat some animals but not others.
- Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero – If you can only afford one vegetarian or vegan cookbook, it should be Veganomicon. I bought a copy of this book when I first went vegan back in 2007, and I still use it religiously.
- The Homemade Vegan Pantry by Miyoko Schinner – This cookbook is essential to vegans, although vegetarians who eat dairy and eggs might not get as much benefit from it. Schinner shares vegan recipes for popular pantry items, such as mayonnaise, butter, and even fish sauce.
- How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman – I was an idiot when I moved from Asheville a few years ago and gave this cookbook away so that I wouldn’t have to move with it (it’s huge), but I will definitely be buying it again soon. In this 800+ page cookbook, Bittman teaches you how to cook literally everything vegetarian.
- The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook by America’s Test Kitchen – Who doesn’t love America’s Test Kitchen? While How to Cook Everything Vegetarian will teach you all of the basics, this cookbook will show you how to create fancy, beautiful dishes.
- How Not to Die by Michael Greger, M.D – This non-fiction wellness and health book is a best-seller that many people have loved. His Holiness the Dalai Lama even blurbed it, saying, “This book may help those who are susceptible to illnesses that can be prevented.” Not many people can brag about having the Dalai Lama read their book. Gregor goes into a lot of detail about how the standard American diet is killing us and promotes a more plant-based diet.
- The Plant-Based Solution by Joel K. Kahn, MD – Similar to the previous book, this is another book written by a doctor promoting a plant-based diet. Kahn’s book has a particular focus on heart health.
- The China Study by T. Colin Campbell, Phd & Thomas M. Cambell II, MD – The China Study is a health and diet classic. The authors and their teams undertook a massive research project to understand how diet influences health and found that a whole-food, plant-based diet is the best option for longevity and good health.
- Diet for a Small Planet by Frances Moore Lappe – This classic was first released in 1971 and is still highly influential. Lappe argues that eating vegetarian is the best way to support environmentalism.
- Vegetarian India by Madhur Jaffrey – One of the coolest things about transitioning to a vegan or vegetarian diet is that it opens you up to new types of cuisines. When I went vegan, I was surprised to discover that Indian and Thai foods contained some of the most complex and delicious flavors I’d ever tasted. Having a solid cookbook showing you how to cook vegetarian Indian food at home is the perfect way for you to get started.
- Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen by Richa Hingle – Yup, another Indian cookbook, this time for the vegans! Richa Hingle is the genius behind the wildly popular Vegan Richa food blog. I’ve made many of her recipes, and they always come out perfect.
- Afro-Vegan and Vegan Soul Kitchen by Bryant Terry – Terry specializes in African, Caribbean, and Southern foods made vegan. I’ve been using Vegan Soul Kitchen for years and have impressed everyone with the recipes, even omnivores.
- Rachel Ama’s Vegan Eats by Rachel Ama – This is another cookbook that will help you cook delicious meals with a Carribean flair. Ama’s recipes have become incredibly popular on YouTube, where her channel has over 300,000 subscribers.
- The Bloodless Revolution: Radical Vegetarians and the Discovery of India by Tristram Stuart – This is a book that I actually bought recently because it sounded so interesting. It’s a history of vegetarianism in India and its influence on Europe.
- The Forks Over Knives Plan by Alona Pulde, MD & Matthew Lederman, MD – Forks Over Knives is a popular documentary and has now become so much more. This book is a four-week plan to change your diet into a plant-based one. There are also cookbooks to go along with it.
- Becoming Vegetarian and Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis & Vesanto Melina – These are a couple of other classic non-fiction books about vegetarianism and health. Becoming Vegan was one of the very first books I read about veganism when I was thinking about taking the plunge into that lifestyle.
- One Pan, Two Plates: Vegetarian Suppers by Carla Snyder – Finally, one last cookbook. I recently purchased the e-book version of this cookbook because it was super cheap on Kindle (psst, as of this writing it still is!), and I’m loving it. Both I and my boyfriend are pretty bad at eating leftovers, so having a cookbook full of vegetarian, two-person meals are perfect.