It’s Easy to Change to a Plant Based Diet

… to live longer and more healthily for less cash.

You know how newness stands out? Pristine dust-free gadgets or a fresh-smelling book that crinkles when opened. Then gradually, they blend into the background, familiar and unnoticed.

Being vegan too, starts as a voyage of tentative discovery and soon becomes a well-trodden path, familiar and amiable.

Several years ago I found I’d got high cholesterol. I was a smoker, at the time, and a drinker with an on-off relationship with exercise.

The doc wheeled out the old “good fat / bad fat / more exercise” speech but that time something in it struck a chord. To this day I don’t know what, but he’d lit the blue touch paper of intrigue. Could I tweak my diet and be healthier?

Now, apologies to dieticians trying not to laugh but, at the time, healthy eating was all new to me.

I cut back on the sausages, spread butter thinner and fried in unsaturated oil. Net effect? Almost none.

Fast forward a few years and I’ve long since stopped smoking and stopped drinking alcohol, after a sombre ‘pre-diabetes’ warning. There’s a row of esteemed books on my shelves. And me, I’m born-again eating healthy plant-based food.

Eating plant-based food is remarkably easy. If you’re not already Vegetarian or Vegan though, you may have worries or doubts. Mainstream media loves to exaggerate.

Vegans are generally very healthy. For example, my B12 and other diet-related measures are all normal. (I have a 6-monthly test and got the latest result yesterday). Scientists still argue over proof of cause and effect, just like they did with smoking. But empirically, it’s clear. Just look around in a restaurant or outside a junk food outlet.

Starting from zero relevant knowledge, and with fears fanned by mainstream media, what made the difference?

What sources were really informative and supportive? Is there anything I’d do differently?

The Decision

Vegans live 6–10 years longer.

The first step is to choose. I chose to eliminate animal products for health reasons, environmental reasons and the appalling way industrial farming treats animals. Three good reasons but your reasons may differ.

A definition of a decision is a choice where the possibility of going back is eliminated. If there’s a chance to return then it’s a trial, not a decision. A trial is fine too but see below: subtle taste takes a few weeks to return.

Learning about Healthy Plant Based Diet

Eating a different diet falls neatly into theory and practice. For theory, it’s easy. YouTube is your friend, and there are plenty of good books. Here are the ones I found best.

Step 1: Watch these YouTube videos

70% Of All Deaths In Western World Are From Diet And Lifestyle: with Brenda Davis

How Not To Die: The Role of Diet in Preventing, Arresting, and Reversing Our Top 15 Killers

Step 2: Watch these on Netflix

Step 3: Reference Books

(Links go to Amazon)

Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina

In a fit of enthusiasm, I bought the comprehensive edition. It’s really good and comprehensive is no idle claim. There are PhD theses with less in them than this book.

It’s easy to read and, to my lay reader eye, covers everything you need to know.

What, why and when.

Eat To Live by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.

Joel Fuhrman’s inspiring book covers all you need to know about healthy eating and losing weight. The science is minimal and easy to understand with minimal jargon.

It’s packed with good advice and inspiring advice. Definitely one to read or use for reference if you’re interested in your health.

Diabetes Solution by Richard K. Bernstein, MD

An essential read for anyone with diabetes or needing to control their blood sugar levels.

It’s an authoritative tome and at 500 pages I used it as a reference book rather than a cover-to-cover read.

There’s lots of good advice in the book and whilst it’s certainly not a substitute for medical advice, it’s a valuable addition.

Step 4: Cookery Books

Top Tip: Raw white cabbage is sweet, full of nutrition and has negligible calories. If you’re serious about controlling weight, snack on white cabbage instead of sugary or starchy food.

Recommending cookery books is a bit like trying to suggest popular music to an aged aunt. You’re won’t get it all right, except by chance, because personal preference plays such an important role.

Having said that though, some books are excellent. Here are my favourites to get you started. Or just leave a comment if you have a suggestion yourself.

River Cottage Veg Every Day!

These two River Cottage books are my go-to for inspiration.

We’ve bookshelf in the corner of the kitchen where most of the cookbooks live, but these two are just as likely to be found out on the table or a surface,

River Cottage Much More Veg: 175 easy and delicious vegan recipes for every meal

Proudly displaying their miscellaneous post-it notes, bookmarks and torn off strips of paper.

Every marker representing a tasty recipe to return to or an inspiration for another day.

Hugh’s Three Good Things

Whilst we’re on the River Cottage books, Hugh’s Three Good Things is a joy too. It’s not vegan, or even vegetarian, but it contains many meat-free and dairy-free recipes.

The deceptive simplicity of Hugh’s Three Good Things belies the astonishing taste interaction between the main ingredients. If ever a meal was more than the sum of its parts, you’ll find it in here.

Keep It Vegan by Aine Carlin

One hundred percent vegan recipes in this book and some very tasty meals.

A particular favourite is Mac No Cheese.

It’s easy to follow, tasty and inspiring.

Step 5: Technology

Technology really can make a difference. I lost 20Kg after realising that diet, calorie-counting and exercise combined were most effective when monitored all the time.


  • Consider a smart watch if you want to lose weight. They’re the easiest way to keep tabs on your activity level.
  • A smart weighing scale keeps weighing-in easy. Prices start at $30 on Amazon.


  • LifeSum
    A godsend for weight loss and calorie counting. I lost 20Kg using this app. Highly recommended
  • Forks over Knives
    Excellent for inspiration and recipes. Helps you eat well when you don’t know where to start.
  • Down Dog
    Fitness and mindfulness are equally important. For Yoga, Down Dog is one of the best.
  • Samsung Health / Google Fit / Apple Health
    Health apps gradually change your reality. You’ll be walking 10,000 steps a day and turning down donuts in no time.

These are all the sources I found most useful when moving to a plant-based diet.

What we eat is a personal choice; it’s best to do our own thing and not judge others.

Nevertheless, if you find your aspirations or values have evolved and eating plants is now more important, then I hope you find this article useful. I wish you good fortune on your journey.

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Writer & Coffee Drinker. Authenticity is the new zeitgeist.