Plant-Based Fitness Books and Cookbooks
What, you didn’t expect me to omit my own book, did you!? This page is for things I personally use and recommend, and that’s exactly what the content of No Meat Athlete is: the tools, strategies, and recipes I’ve used in my journey to the healthiest, fittest, and happiest I’ve ever been. The official release date is October 2013, but you can pre-order right now!
Thrive: The Vegan Nutrition Guide to Optimal Performance in Sports and Life by Brendan Brazier
The gold standard of plant-based nutrition for sports, in my opinion. I may not always eat this way, but at least I’ve got a benchmark to which to compare my own diet. And the recipes for sports drinks, gels, and recovery smoothies and puddings are fantastic.
Eat & Run by Scott Jurek
An inspirational and entertaining memoir from one of the best known and most accomplished plant-based athletes in the world. Having 20 of Scott’s personal recipes for fueling runs and recovery isn’t so bad either!
Finding Ultra by Rich Roll
An inspiring story of Rich’s personal journey through addiction and recovery to rediscovering his health and athleticism with the help of a plant-based diet and some pretty crazy endurance goals. Has a nice section of practical advice too for getting the most out of your diet.
Born to Run by Christopher McDougall
The book I credit with turning me into a runner (as I’m sure so many others do too). Ultramarathons, trail running, barefooting, and compelling case for why running just may be in our blood — all woven into a fast-moving story that I read in just a few sittings.
An absolute eye-opener that turns conventional wisdom about diet and exercise on its head. Intended to be read by picking and choosing sections rather than cover-to-cover, it includes two chapters on ultrarunning and two on plant-based diets (including a lengthy look at how All ProductsScott Jurek eats) — and they’re not even the best parts.
Run Less, Run Faster by Bill Pierce, Scott Murr, and Ray Moss
The training program I used to qualify for Boston — sort of. I didn’t actually do the “run less” part, choosing instead to do easy runs instead of the suggested cross-training. But the three (tough!) workouts each week helped me get into the best shape of my life and, after one amazing summer of training, achieve the goal I had been chasing for seven years.
Daniels’ Running Formula by Jack Daniels
The first serious training manual I read on my journey to qualify for Boston. Includes training plans of different levels for 800m up to the marathon distance, and provides an in-depth treatment of the fundamentals of running — not of form, but of how to train.
Core Performance Endurance by Mark Verstegen
If you know you should strength-train but you can’t seem to get yourself to do it, here’s your answer. The exercises and programs here, which can be done at home with minimal equipment, are designed to improve your form as an endurance athlete by strengthening muscles through functional movements.
Relentless Forward Progress: A Guide to Running Ultramarathons by Bryon Powell
Everything you need to know about running an ultra, from 50K up to 100 miles. Offers several different peak training mileage option plans for each distance, along with loads of other information about fueling, equipment, race strategy, dropping your drawers in the woods, and anything else you can think of. I’m using a plan from this book to train for my 100-miler this summer.
Food for Fitness by Chris Carmichael
Serious nutrition for endurance sports. You can go really deep with it, tracking everything you eat to make sure you hit the guidelines exactly or use it as I do, as a loose framework to build your diet around. While not a vegan- or vegetarian-specific guide, a plant-based diet seems a particularly good fit; for example, Carmichael’s recommended protein intake hovers around only 12-15 percent and the focus is largely on carbohydrate.
1,000 Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson
The first vegan cookbook I ever owned, and one that’s still a standby. The meals are quick — not often fancy, but reliable, just the way I like them.
Let Them Eat Vegan by Dreena Burton
An excellent, fun, and extremely family-friendly cookbook. Tons of easy and healthy breakfast foods, homes dips and sauces, veggie burgers, and pasta dishes, and great about giving options for making certain dishes raw or oil-free, if that’s your thing.
CLEAN Food: A Seasonal Guide to Eating Close to the Source by Terry Walters
An amazing, whole-foods based cookbook with a focus on eating seasonally. “Clean” is a perfect descriptor — the food is vegan, often gluten-free, and even without a lot of soy. For me, this book was the perfect introduction to how fresh and delicious plant-based food can be.
Thrive Foods: 200 Recipes for Peak Health by Brendan Brazier
Quite possibly my favorite cookbook. I look at it as a more family-friendly and practical version of the Thrive diet, focusing on easy and accessible recipes that will still be some of the healthiest you make. More cooked food than raw, but plenty of superfoods and recipes that even my toddler will eat.
Appetite for Reduction by Isa Chandra Moskowitz
One of my very favorite cookbooks for simple, healthy plant-based meals. More focused on flavor than the other cookbooks on my list — four or five of the recipes have been stunningly delicious — but at the same time less involved and complicated than recipes from Isa’s previous books.