The Thinking Vegan Pop Quiz: Vegan Books

By on May 31, 2011

If a non-vegan challenged you to recommend a book that would make them go vegan, what book would that be and why?

Robert D. Shepherd
Slaughterhouse by Gail Eiznitz.

Windy Lynn Brown
The China Study…the most comprehensive study ever conducted on nutrition.

Victoria V Fiore
The China Study

Gary Loewenthal
If I didn’t know better, I’d recommend The Face On Your Plate”by Jeffrey Moussaief Masson; I like his engaging tone. But I’ve heard more people cite Skinny Bitch as the book them made then go vegan than anything else, so I have to go with the odds, at least from my limited experience. Granted, different books appeal to different people. In real life, I would take a much more individualized approach.

Regina Horton
A lot of vegans will disagree with me, but Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer. It has been criticized as a soft sell and because he even praises the efforts of small more “humane” family farms. But he makes you think and really consider your choices. His book is an honest, brutal look at factory farms. But much of the reading is relatively easy, unlike harder hitting books that make you cringe the whole way through. I picked my copy up at the airport on the way to a Hawaiian vacation. In retrospect that was not the best vacation reading as I found much of it very upsetting. Towards the end of the book he includes an interview with a slaughterhouse worker that tells the story of killing a pig. He decided to torture it first and cut off it’s snout with his knife. The pig went wild, screaming & running around the killing floor. After a few minutes the stunned beast stopped, so the man grabbed a handful of brine and rubbed it into the wound and then jammed a fistful into the pig’s rectum. I sobbed when I read this, can’t write about it without tears. It breaks my heart that people can be so cruel. If that doesn’t make you reconsider your food choices then I don’t know what will.

Veronica Polanco
Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Kate Kaminski
The Dreaded Comparison by Marjorie Spiegel.

Carol Glasser
It depends on the person. The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol J. Adams did it for me, but (unfortumately) I don’t think the feminist angle is a good hook for a lot of people.

Trista Norton
I guess it depends on their personality/what drives them, but Slaughterhouse by Gail Eisnitz did it for me!

Ann Marie Simard
That would definitely be The World Peace Diet: Eating for spiritual health and social harmony by Will Tuttle.

Lorna Beasley
Mad Cowboy by Howard Lyman. (the ex cattle rancher who was the guy who educated Oprah on the issues and eventually landed her in court fighting against the cattle industry in TX.)

Sarah Molnar
I vote for Eating Animals as well. It made me go vegan after being vegetarian for 8 years. 🙂

Ammo Quintana
Eating Animals. Looking forward to other comments.

Philip Steir
Vegan Freak by Torres & Torres.

Erika Gyoker
Eating Animals because it’s objective, it examines the subject from every angle, it’s intelligent yet doesn’t blind you with science, it’s full of facts still not too gruesome…. Very good book.

Erin Noel Grennan
Without question, Eating Animals. Changed everything for me.

Maura Manfredi Philipps
I would say The World Peace Diet, although it is very hard for some to get through. That being said I would say Skinny Bitch.

Tamara Castagnaro
It would also depend on who I was talking with. If they are for health reasons then I would recommend The China Study. Skinny Bitch, though I never read it, I have heard many people say that is what made them think about what they were eating. I also liked that Eating Animals gets to you when you are a parent because that is why he said he wrote his book and looked deeper into why he was eating what he was eating.

Traci Drum
Gary Francione’s Introduction to Animal Rights: Your Child or the Dog?

Jessica Eli Sharpe
Thrive by Brendan Brazier- talks about how optimal a vegan diet is for athletes.

Jamie Qualls
It’s not a book, but I recommend the YouTube video by Gary Yourofsky called ‘The Best Speech You Will Ever Hear.’ It covers the whole spectrum of being vegan in a powerfully compelling hour-long presentation. I’ve made positive steps with a few people, by saying if I had one wish for my friends and family, it would be to have them see this video. Then they watch it because they know it means that much to me.

Jennifer Bushnell
Skinny Bitch…really good book, funny and explains why to go vegan and gives food suggestions.

Shane Michael G
It depends greatly on the non-vegan. You have to assess the person carefully and choose wisely. I always seem to get stuck with the people who have no empathy for other species, and then I break out the health info, mostly Jane Plant, The China Study, and Esselstyn, or if the person is fitness-conscious, maybe Brendan Brazier or Robert Cheeke, maybe also mentioning peeps like Mac Danzig, Mike Mahler, and Rob Bigwood while I’m at it. But if the person has a soul, a video or book on the torture that is the life of a farm animal is likely to be most effective, coupled with a starter kit or something brief explaining that it’s easy to go veg.

Chrissy Cardoza
Skinny Bitch started me on my vegan path.

Julia Stein
Food Revolution by John Robbins. It’s an easy read and covers all bases. John Robbins is good for beginners, I think. (His earlier books, Diet for a New America or Food Revolution. Not the later ones where he seems to be okay with happy meat.)

Kraig Blatch
Earthlings documentary and Eating Animals. Got me over the line.

Alexa Reed
It would depend on the person. I’ve had a lot of athletes recently telling me that they need more protein, so I recommend Thrive by Brendan Brazier and/or Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn Jr. ut then the other day, I had someone who’s been a Vegan but isn’t feeling healthy. She wasn’t following any particular plan, so I recommended Vegan Cooking for One: Over 150 simple and appetizing meals by Leah Leneman because it has weekly shopping lists, and a whole plan for her.

Gwendolyn Ⓥ Mathers
Personally found Face On Your Plate the most compelling and covered more aspects than just factory farming. It also included Fish, which is so often forgotten.

Stephanie Kaufman
I would go with Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis & Vesanto Melina. I know a few people who are interested in veganism, but just think it would be too hard. Too hard to get the necessary nutrients, too hard to go out to eat, etc. I think this book does a fantastic job of explaining what you need, how much you need, how to get it and why you’ll be healthier as a vegan. It’s detailed and comprehensive, yet still accessible. It’s definitely the one I’d recommend!

Lawrence Ziese
I’d give them a copy of Vegan With a Vengeance and offer to pop by later on to make some of the recipes together.

Cris Kelly
Diet for a New America by John Robbins.

Joan Ozelis Calpin ‎
Slaughterhouse by Gail Eisnitz

Lindavegan Middlesworth
If it’s a girl, Skinny Bitch. A great first time read for brand new peeps. Send them to Colleen Patrick Goudreau podcasts asap. The China Study if they want to really know about nutrition.

Jo Tyler
The World Peace Diet by Will Tuttle

Ashley Mills
I like Vegan Freak: Being Vegan In A Non-Vegan World by Bob Torres. It includes some good points about why we shouldn’t eat or use animals. Also, the authors give some good tips on how to handle challenging conversations with others and how to eat out on a vegan diet.

Mandy Deir
Why We Love Dogs Wat Pigs and Wear Cows by Dr. Melanie Joy.

Devin Kramer
Slaughterhouse by Gail Eisnitz.

Angela McArdle
Slaughterhouse. Shows how the industry affects the individuals who work in the factory farms

Grace Lorraine
The World Peace Diet, not only because it converted me, but also because it is inspirational. More than educating, it is empowering.

Steven Todd Smith
Skinny Bitch/Bastard (by Rory Freedman & Kim Bardouin) worked on me, and it’s worked on a few non-vegan friends whom I’ve given the book, too. It can put some people off though because of the style of writing – as long as the person can take a little criticism and laugh off getting their ass kicked and taking the truth in a nice sucker punch, then definitely this. I think for the thinkers out there, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows (by Melanie Joy) is a great one. If they don’t necessarily connect fully with the health or animal cruelty aspects in whole, but need an intellectual, common sense approach (philosophical, in a way), then this book is an excellent read. The China Study is great for the scientific, statistical mind, but too heavy for most people – John Robbins’ The Food Revolution, or even Diet for a New America, are thicker reads but much less dense than Campbell’s China Study. They appeal to the emotional, health, political, and compassion platforms for a well-rounded read. Eating Animals (by Jonathan Safran Foer)- I really think it creates a great conversation, and, for any downfalls it might have, it’s a great mainstream, easy read to learn about the horrors of the factory farming system and get the mind thinking about the ethical ramifications of eating meat. (All supplemented by Vegan in 30 Days [by Sarah Taylor], and, hopefully you’ll have a critically thinking, educated and informed non-vegan friend who’s looking to shed the non-!)


  1. Julia
    May 31, 2011

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    I’m completely perplexed that so many people recommend “Eating Animals”. I haven’t read the book because from what I’ve heard the author doesn’t even touch on the dairy industry at all. And he himself is vegetarian, not vegan.
    Could somebody explain this to me?

  2. Kezia
    May 31, 2011

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    Julia, I don’t know. The book irritated me too much to recommend it. Like most food policy writers, Foer tells us factory farming is the enemy. He seems romantically attached to ranchers like Niman who make eating animals more acceptable to the consumer, not less. He holds up the humane myth, while at the same time he admits that that these kinds of operations couldn’t feed Long Island, let alone America or the world. He pats people on the back for eating “happy meat” but points out that pigs are as playful as dogs, fish are intelligent, and chickens use language. So the book is schizo.

    Because of this schizophrenia, I didn’t think he made a moral and ethical case against eating animals at all. I’m very surprised to hear it had an impact on people.

    Interesting trivia: the pig anecdote mentioned above from “Eating Animals” actually comes from “Slaughterhouse.”

  3. Peter Keller
    May 31, 2011

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    That’s a tough one for me, as it wasn’t a book that made the change for me. I would agree with others about tailoring an individual recommendation based on their predisposition, but I honestly haven’t read too many books on becoming vegan since being one.
    From what I’ve seen of “Skinny Bitch,” I personally wouldn’t recommend it because it reinforces the idea of “healthy = skinny;” healthy vegans come in all sizes.

  4. Lisa is Raw on $10 a Day (or Less!)
    May 31, 2011

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    I also think it depends on the person and would take that into account. The World Peace Diet is the book that immediately made me decide to be vegan.

  5. Al
    May 31, 2011

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    Just talked with a woman tonight who read Eating Animals and is now horrified by factory farms. She still eats meat, milk, eggs. Didn’t really reduce her consumption at all. But man … those factory farms …

    That said, I think there’s a lot of great information in Eating Animals and I think that as long as it’s presented to someone along with a vegan message (because really, the book does not convey a vegan message), it can be a way to get people thinking (if your talking about veganism hasn’t already done that). I don’t think I would recommend it to someone who I haven’t already talked to at length about veganism and animal rights.

  6. Janine Laura Bronson
    June 1, 2011

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    Let’s say someone were turned on to veganism after having read Will Tuttle’s World Peace Diet, then what next? How else to convince someone to go vegan, not just think about it logicly and theoretically but really consider BECOMING (in person) a vegan, taking the very next step to live as a vegan, in every aspect of the word? (including the thrills of being able to experience sharing the intimacy of being a vegansexual, ha, ha) Well, an interesting book that guides, or gently shows the compassionate side of living a vegan lifestyle might include Eric Marcus’ The Ultimate Vegan Guide to Compassionate Living Without Sacrifice. After all, ones culinary habits are hard to break, right? Also, I think it is important to provide a FREE option for those who need immediate help, and this book can be read for FREE online at and may lead to the reader’s wishing to explore the next step, okay, I admit that I’m considering a vegan lifestyle, now, the question is, then, is this doable, and how can I make sense out of it, without being intimidated by propaganda against the vegan lifestyle, and justify keeping it up, without being influenced by mainstream society? Well, then, they might read Robin Robinson’s Vegan on the Cheap, and after that, possibly Colleen Patrick-Goudrea’s Color me Vegan including antioxidants, and then maybe Gary Francione’s Vegan Freak, being vegan in a non-vegan world, for moral support, and in addition to that, could next turn to Brenda Davis, R.D. and Vesanto Melina M.S., R.D.’s Becoming Vegan — The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Plant-Based Diet, which reinforces nutritional dietary facts, and finally rewarding the taste buds, without sacrificing convenience, speed and ease of preparation, the fast way to a quick delicious vegan meal can be found in Jennifer Cornblat’s Raw Food Made Easy For 1 or 2 People that doesn’t require electrical sophisticated kitchen equipment and/or tools, maybe just a blender, and not even that is necessary (a hand-held sort of mechanical shaker could be used, too). Oh, and if its rawfoods that also turn you on, then don’t forget to explore a free copy online while you’re at it, of Orgasm of the Tastebuds by Chef Belive. Hope this helps!!!

  7. Kezia
    June 7, 2011

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    Peter you may underestimate or stereotype the book “Skinny Bitch.” Perhaps at least read it before dismissing it (or “Skinny Bastard,” in your case).

    “Skinny bitch” is also a derogatory name women commonly call each other. Or, I should say, it’s a name that some women frequently call smaller women. So in a sense it’s a term that’s been reclaimed and its negative power taken away. I’m sure you can think of a similar, more widely known example.

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