Resources to Help You Go Plant-based in 2021
So you want to go plant-based - now what? It can be a daunting task!
If you've been eating animal products all your life, it can be really challenging figuring out new recipes and routines. Is there vegan mayo? (Yes!) Do I have to give up pizza? (No!)
There's so much to learn but there are also loads of resources out there to help you along the way. Including us! If you ever have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask!
Since, as I'm publishing this, the New Year is right around the corner, I wanted to pull together a quick guide for people wanting to make the switch to a plant-based diet. In this guide, most of the resources are focused on the food. I'm not going to go into ethics or animal products in personal care items, clothing, etc. but some of these resources might touch on those topics.
Okay, let's get started with the resources for going plant-based!
Free kick start programs
There are loads of free kick start programs out there to help you switch to a plant-based diet. For the recommendations here, I’ve focused on the programs from larger organizations.
If you have a favorite blogger or YouTube personality that has a getting started guide, definitely check them out. If not, these will help send you on your way.
And don't think that you have to be an absolute newbie to plant-based eating to sign up for these programs. Even I sign up for them sometimes after 25 years of being meat-free! Sometimes you need to get some new ideas.
10 Weeks to Vegan from Vegan Outreach
This guide, 10 Weeks to Vegan from Vegan Outreach, is available in multiple languages and countries. They even have a separate one for Canada which is nice because the products available in our neighbor to the north aren’t always the same as what we have here in the U.S.
You’ll get a weekly email with tips to help you on your journey. There’s even a Facebook group if you’re into that.
21-Day Vegan Kickstart by PCRM
The 21-Day Vegan Kickstart is brought to you by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and is also available in Spanish.
This guide focuses on health and evidence-based medicine. You’ll get meal plans, recipes, grocery lists, daily videos, nutrition tips, cooking demonstrations, and more. They even have iOS and Android apps.
Plant-Based Primer: The Beginner’s Guide to a Plant-Based Diet from Forks Over Knives
Starting with their documentary, Forks Over Knives has been a wonderful source of information for people looking to clean up their diet. Their focus is on whole plant foods. This post will help get you started and links off to many of their resources that will help you on your way. I enjoy the recipes from Forks Over Knives and in particular like their quarterly magazine.
Veganuary getting started guide
Veganuary is a movement based in the UK but many of their recommendations translate easily to the U.S. and worldwide. Start with this post where you’ll get some basic recommendations and then take the pledge and you will get emails to help you along the way.
Plant-based cookbooks for beginners
Everyone has different levels of cooking experience, tastes, time, and resources to devote to preparing meals. Some people like to repeat the same meals over and over. Others crave variety. I’m going to recommend some basics here, but which types of cookbooks will work for you will depend on the things mentioned above.
I recommend that you spend time browsing the cookbook section in bookstores. Take some time with each book. Don’t just look at the photos; scan the ingredients and recipe instructions. If you’re not adventurous, you probably don’t want to hunt down tons of unfamiliar or hard to find ingredients. An experienced cook might be insulted at a marinara recipe. Are the recipes involved with many steps that you have to think about hours or even days in advance? Are you okay with that?
If browsing bookstores isn’t available (hello, COVID-19), try using the “look inside” feature on Amazon to review some of the books. Some authors have websites where they post recipes that you can peruse.
Protip: some of the most accessible cookbooks are marketed to college students. These cookbooks tend to have easy to find ingredients, are simple to make, require minimal tools, and are budget-friendly. Often they will give you basic information about going vegan.
The College Vegan Cookbook: 145 Affordable, Healthy & Delicious Plant-Based Recipes
Whether you are new to cooking or just new to plant-based cooking, a good cookbook with simple recipes like The College Vegan Cookbook is essential when starting out. You want to minimize your frustration and make it as easy as possible for yourself. Once you have a bank of simple meals that you can draw on and you learn how vegan meals are put together then you can move on to more complicated recipes.
Vegan On The Cheap
As you start cooking vegan recipes you will discover that there are some cookbook authors that you gravitate towards. For me, Robin Robertson is one of those. While I’ve had a few of her books, the one I turn to again and again is Vegan On The Cheap.
Making inexpensive recipes often means keeping things simpler. Which also makes them wonderful for the RV. And that, in turn, makes these recipes easier for beginners.
The other thing I love about this book is that Robin provides many DIY recipes for things like seitan and vegan mayo. With some shelf-stable ingredients, you can make many items that are hard to find in stores sometimes.
Veganomicon is sort of the Joy of Cooking for vegans. The recipes are a bit fussier and involve more ingredients that you might not be familiar with but it is still an excellent resource to have on hand.
Forks Over Knives
Forks Over Knives has many resources for beginners. Above I mentioned their magazines in the getting started section. I like them because since they’re quarterly they really focus on the season and use in-season ingredients.
They also have several cookbooks and one called The Forks Over Knives Plan. If you’ve already seen their documentary, the Plan book mostly restates the movie with some recipes added in. I have the Forks Over Knives Cookbook but honestly, I use the magazines more. It does have lots of basic recipes to help get you started though.
The Joy of Vegan Baking
If you love to bake but have no idea how that will work without eggs and butter, The Joy of Vegan Baking is the book for you. The recipes are great but you’ll also learn about substitutions and when to use them. If you are wanting to veganize some of your old baking recipes, these tips will help send you on your way.
The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook for your Instant Pot
Kathy Hester is another cookbook author that I adore. Her recipes are always delicious and I love that she gives oil-free options for most of them. The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook for your Instant Pot is another one that made the cut and travels with us in the RV. She has posted many of these recipes on her website so you can test-drive her style before buying her books.
The best thing I learned in this book was how to layer dishes in the Instant Pot to cook several components of a meal at once. It’s life changing!
Lifestyle and Nutrition Books
Vegan for Life: Everything You Need to Know to Be Healthy on a Plant-based Diet
There are books available that cover more specific needs more in-depth, but Vegan For Life is a good place to start. If your whole family is taking the plant-based plunge, this book will answer most of your questions for every life stage. You can always get a more specific book later if you need it.
How Not to Die & How Not to Diet
If you really want to nerd out on the science behind plant-based diet recommendations, Dr. Greger has got you covered. He reads all the nutrition studies that come out and breaks them down in an understandable way. He also posts videos and has a podcast if you’d rather consume the information in one of those ways rather than reading.
Dr. Greger also has a couple of cookbooks out now. I like the How Not to Die Cookbook but don't consider it to be "beginner." And, surprise, Robin Robertson developed the recipes!
Happy Cow is a website, iOS, and Android app that lists and reviews veg-friendly restaurants and shops around the world. For a new vegan, it can help you find resources in your area. And then when you travel to other cities, Happy Cow will help you find the good vegan food there. We talk in depth about finding vegan food away from home in our vegan travel guide.
A Billion, also a website, iOS, and Android app, is similar to Happy Cow in that you can find plant-based restaurant food near you. But it also has reviews of packaged foods, beauty products and ethical fashion.
There are plenty of documentaries out there that focus on the plight of the animals or the planet. If you’d like recommendations for those, drop a comment below and I’ll be happy to share. But I suspect that most people that end up on this page are more interested in the health aspects of a plant-based diet. These two documentaries focus on that.
Forks Over Knives
Most chronic diseases are tied to our diet. Forks Over Knives explores how changing the way you eat can change your health. You can watch it on Amazon Prime, YouTube, iTunes, or buy the DVD. Check out the trailer below.
The Game Changers
The Game Changers answers the common question vegans get “but where do you get your protein?” So many people think that you’ll be weak or can’t be athletic if you don’t eat meat, but it simply isn’t true.
This documentary covers many top athletes that survive and thrive on plant-based diets. You can watch this one on Netflix, YouTube, iTunes, Google Play and more. Check out the trailer below.
I hope you found these resources for going plant-based helpful! If you have any questions not answered here or you have tips to add please leave a comment.
About the Author
vegan. digital nomad. cycling. scuba. intj. former vegan bakery owner.