The China Study

The China Study changed my life. As far as I know, it continues to be the most comprehensive study ever done on nutrition. Dr. T. Colin Campbell defines nutrition as the biological expression of food that promotes health, and has concluded that the closer one approaches a total plant based diet, the greater the health benefit. His follow up books are terrific as well, and he offers an online course in plant based nutrition through Cornell University. Dr. Campbell is a legend, and rightfully so!

Diet for a New America

John Robbins is another iconic figure in the fields of nutrition and healthy living. Diet for a New America was first published over 30 years ago, and it remains one of the most influential books ever written on nutrition and the impacts of our food system.  John Robbins is a game changer, and along with his son Ocean, also runs the excellent Food Revolution Summits each year.  

Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease

Caldwell Esselstyn is featured in the film “Forks Over Knives.”  Dr. Esselstyn was able to prove that heart disease can not only be effectively treated, but often reversed with a whole food plant based diet. Heart disease is the number one killer in the United States, and coronary artery disease is nothing more than a “toothless paper tiger”, according to Dr. Esselstyn. If you, or anyone you know is burdened with heart disease, please send them a copy of this book! 

How Not To Die

Michael Greger is the creator of the excellent website “How Not to Die” has been called one of the most important books ever written on health, and explores how a plant based diet can effectively treat the most common and deadliest diseases (often times far better than drugs!). Dr. Greger’s “How Not to Diet”, is  an empowering read as well. He also cracks me up, and that goes a long way too. 

The World Peace Diet

This book asks great questions, and in many respects, takes things to another level. It is one of the best books that I have ever read.

The Alzheimer's Solution

One of my main takeaways from this timely book is that if you stop eating the Standard American Diet (SAD), and instead eat a whole food plant based diet, and make a few other lifestyle changes, you can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by 90%! This disease is not nearly as scary as it used to be, once I read this book. If you are interested, Team Sherzai offers an Alzheimer’s Solution Brain Health Assessment too.  

Avoid Meat and Dairy Products

A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use, and water use. It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights, or buying an electric car. Really it is animal products that are responsible for so many environmental problems. Avoiding consumption of animal products delivers far better environmental benefits than trying to purchase sustainable meat and dairy.  
– Joseph Poore, Oxford University

Eat Your Veggies!

Eat your plants. A study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that people who ate a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, seeds, legumes and other plant foods, as part of a healthy lifestyle, lived an average of 12-14 years longer than those who didn’t. 

Eat Soy

Eat organic or non-GMO soy regularly. Dr. Kristi Funk advocates for 2-3 servings of soy daily, but even one and a half servings a week will decrease breast cancer risk by about 60%. Soybeans are a rich source of isoflavones, a class of phytoestrogens found predominantly in legumes and beans. For more information, check out Dr. Funk’s excellent book titled, “Breasts, the Owner’s Manual.” 

Attention Moms & Dads

Vegan diets are not only healthy for all stages of life, but they also provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of many diseases. World-renowned nutritionist Brenda Davis is a terrific resource, and a book that she co-authored “Becoming Vegan”, is loaded with great ideas, and helps make it easy to raise children on a healthy vegan diet. The American Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has taken the following position: “Appropriately planned  vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. These diets are appropriate for all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, adolescence, older adulthood, and for athletes…vegetarians and vegans are at reduced risk of certain health conditions, including ischemic heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, certain types of cancer, and obesity. “

Undo It!

Dr. Dean Ornish, and his wife Anne, bring all aspects of Lifestyle Medicine together in their latest book called “Undo It!: How Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Reverse Most Chronic Diseases.” Eat well, move more, stress less, and love more! Dr. Dean Ornish is another legend in Lifestyle Medicine, and a true game changer.  

The Joyful Vegan

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s book “The Joyful Vegan” is an uplifting read, especially I suspect, for people who are struggling with remaining Vegan. The 10 stages that Vegans go through when they stop eating meat is scarily insightful, and validating. We are much better advocates when we are joyful, and when we make our own health a priority. There is no need to feel guilty. It is not about Veganism, it is about wellness and compassion.    

A Seven Day Rescue?

Rip Esselstyn’s “The Engine 2 Seven Day Rescue Diet”, is not only a great road map for someone who is new to the idea of a plant based diet, but it is also an enjoyable read that provides a ton of evidence based findings and strategies that can help even the most experienced plant based eater!

The Pleasure Trap

The Pleasure Trap is a wonderful book that explains how our biological purpose in life is to survive and reproduce. Nature it turns out, has created 3 incentives for all animals to fulfill this purpose:  (1) the pursuit of pleasure, (2), the avoidance of pain, and (3), the conservation of energy.  The pleasure trap explores the many hidden forces that can undermine health and happiness and teaches us how to avoid them. Topics include the incredible achievements of Charles Darwin and Thomas Edison, the sad downward spiral of Elvis Presley, surprising human behavior studies, and the sciences of psychology and nutrition.    

The Blue Zones

Have you heard of the Blue Zones and the remarkable work of Dan Buettner? Dan Buettner studied 5 different parts of the world that boasted the highest per capita populations of centenarians (people who thrive to 100 and beyond). He discovered that the people who live the longest and most fulfilling lives, eat 95-100% plant based. There are other important factors too for increased longevity and happiness, including love, a sense of community, physical activity, laughter, social interactions, and purpose. Here, he shares some of what he has learned, and provides many evidence based suggestions for a healthier, happier life.  

Suffering Eyes

Franceen Neufeld’s Suffering Eyes,  A Chronicle of Awakening,  is a 3 step experience:  Read it,  Love it,  and send copies to all of the animal lovers in your life.  Simple. 

Our Symphony with Animals

Dr. Aysha Akhtar’s “Our Symphony with Animals”, is an at times intense and educational read, that has one universal message: Our species is built to bond with animals, not harm them. Connecting personal childhood trauma with animal abuse and inspiring stories, Dr. Akhtar shows how science is just now understanding the remarkable healing power of animals. This is a great book. 


Ingrid Newkirk is another legend, and the founder of PETA. In her book Animalkind, which she wrote with Gene Stone, she explains how animals grieve, laugh, flirt, love, and love us. In some respects, we can’t even begin to measure animal intelligence. PETA has saved millions of animal lives, and has helped make the world a kinder and healthier place for all species. Ingrid Newkirk is a game changer, and this book is just a continuation of her great work.  

In Search of the Wild Tofurky

Seth Tibbot proves that you can be humble, funny, and kind, and still succeed in business. Go figure. Although he struggled for many years to make a profit, he believed in his mission to make the world a better place, and to make a living by doing things the right way (treating all beings and the planet well). Tofurky is now a $100 million company, with 35 Non-GMO vegan products that are sold on six continents. Pretty impressive. This book was a pleasure to read. 

The Skeptical Vegan

“The Skeptical Vegan”, by Eric Lindstrom is laugh out loud funny at times, and perfect for someone who is open, but not yet sure about transitioning to a plant based diet. It depicts a man’s journey from being unhealthy on the Standard American Diet (SAD), to being healthy, and a full time vegan (along with his wife). The biggest takeaway for seasoned vegans will be its ability to make the reader laugh. It is quite an accomplishment to take on what can be the heaviest subject matter, and somehow find a way to use humor appropriately. I really enjoyed this book.    

Kitchen Table Wisdom

One of my favorite writers is Rachel Naomi Remen, MD. She is a physician, clinical professor, therapist, and one of the early pioneers of Wholistic and Integrative Medicine (her credentials are too many to count). She created a curriculum for medical students called “The Healer’s Art” that is taught in over 90 US medical schools. Her wisdom/stories can make me cry and sometimes laugh out loud too. When I read her book “Kitchen Table Wisdom”, I immediately went out and picked up 12-15 copies for family and friends. True story. Fast forward a few years, and I realized that I hadn’t read her previous book “My Grandfather’s Blessings”, and sure enough, it didn’t disappoint. Dr. Remen has spent most of her life dealing with a chronic illness (Crohn’s disease), so her books often provide the perspective of both the patient and the healer. Needless to say, I love her work, and I am so grateful for her stories. (Click here for excerpts from both books).

The Jungle

Published in 1906, The Jungle is a novel by Upton Sinclair that sheds light on the dangerous and unforgiving labor practices for workers, as well as the cruel treatment of animals in the Chicago slaughterhouses at the turn of the 20th century. Although the book is highly engaging, and considered to be one of the most famous and influential muckraking novels of all time, it is also peppered with degrading and racist descriptions of African Americans. It is amazing how the author, like many people, could be so brilliant and compassionate in some areas, and yet so disconnected and obtuse in others. In response to the public’s reaction to the food safety issues of the novel, the US Congress passed both the Pure Food & Drug Act, and the Meat Inspection Act. As a result, Upton Sinclair famously said, “I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.” The Jungle is required reading in many schools, and has been translated into dozens of languages. Incidentally, I couldn’t find one “academic” video of The Jungle that talked about animal rights, as each “expert” could still only refer to animals as food. It is sad to know that some things may never change.

The Soul of an Octopus

Octopuses have venom like a snake, beaks like parrots, and ink like an old-fashioned pen. They can weigh as much as a human, stretch as long as a car, and yet pour their boneless body through an opening the size of an orange. And oh yeah, octopuses are super smart too! According to naturalist Sy Montgomery, “Octopuses represent the great mystery of the Other. They seem completely alien, and yet their world, the ocean, comprises far more of the Earth (70 percent of its surface area; more than 90 percent of its habitable space) than does land. Most animals on this planet live in the ocean. And most of them are invertebrates.” I love all animals, but after reading this book, octopuses (not octopi, as per the author), are now one of my favorites. This is a fascinating read.
Learn more.  

Into the Magic Shop

The only way to true happiness is through love and compassion. Many of us may think, or even say that, but how many of us actually back up those words with actions? This was one of my takeaways from the wonderful book, Into the Magic Shop, by Dr. James Doty. The author tells his story of growing up poor with a Mom who was suicidal and depressed, and a Dad who was an alcoholic. Although both parents loved him, and did the best they could, it is still remarkable that Mr. Doty survived. He credits a chance encounter with a remarkably kind and generous woman named Ruth for saving and transforming his life (when he was just 12 years old!). Ruth taught him the greatest magic of all, meditation, mindfulness, and the importance of opening and trusting his heart. Mr. Doty created the Alphabet of the Heart program, and is the cofounder and director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE) at Stanford University. This book made me cry, and was a reminder of how important it is for all of us to try to be kind and compassionate with everyone we meet. I was disappointed however, to learn that the CCARE program doesn’t advocate for plant-based diets, and that discussions related to veganism are not a part of their curriculum. How can that be? 

Creating a program called the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, and not endorsing cruelty free lifestyles & plant-based diets, would be like creating a lung cancer support program, and not talking about cigarettes! It is flat out crazy, as the ongoing torture and slaughter of billions of animals in animal factories is arguably the greatest crime in history. Into the Magic Shop is still a terrific book, but that’s where the moral journey, and magic ends (at least for now).  Learn more.


The novel Cloudsplitter is a monumental achievement, and one of the best works of historical fiction that I have ever read. The author, Russell Banks, brilliantly tells the story of abolitionist John Brown, through the eyes of his son, Owen. Every page of this story transports the reader to the 1800s, in a semi-gloomy, yet adventurous way. The author’s attention to detail, and his use of 19th century language, wowed me throughout. I felt like I knew John Brown. An insurrectionist, who was emboldened by the Bible, John Brown may not have ended American Slavery outright, but he certainly accelerated its demise. Brown, along with his small band of abolitionists, killed people who supported slavery, but only for the purposes of the greater good. As a result, the author believed that most Black Americans thought of John Brown as a hero, while most White Americans viewed him as “complicated.” If a revolution is the only way to end our ongoing wars, and fix our many broken systems that cause tremendous suffering and harm, what can we learn from the actions of John Brown? An imperfect man who fought for truth and justice, and single-handedly posed a legitimate threat to the most powerful government in the world, and the hideous institution of slavery. 

Finally, I read glowing reviews of Cloudsplitter from Cornel West, and Chris Hedges, and then came across passages like this from Russell Banks: “Of all the animals on this planet, we are surely the nastiest, the most deceitful, the most murderous, and vile. Despite our God, or because of Him. Both. Our only virtue sometimes seems to be that we are as cruel and violent to one another as we are to the other species, whom we slay and devour, or slay for the pure pleasure of it and toss aside.” And I was once again excited by the power of words. Holy sh*t, I love this book.


The United States (US) is still the only country in the world to use a nuclear weapon against another country. Knowing that for centuries, the US food system has been based on violence and suffering, is it any surprise that the US also has a long and unique history of barbarism, war crimes, and even genocide (see Native Americans, Slavery, Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Vietnam, Iraq, Palestine, etc.)? Published in 1946, John Hersey’s Hiroshima, was judged the finest piece of American journalism of the 20th century by NYU’s journalism department. Mr. Hersey’s Hiroshima is a mini-Masterpiece as it follows six of the only humans in history to survive a nuclear attack, and describes their journeys with the following types of gruesome detail: “He met hundreds and hundreds who were fleeing, and every one of them seemed to be hurt in some way. The eyebrows of some were burned off and skin hung from their faces and hands. Others, because of pain, held their arms up as if carrying something in both hands. Some were vomiting as they walked. Many were naked or in shreds of clothing…their faces were wholly burned, their eye sockets were hollow, the fluid from their melted eyes had run down their cheeks.” The United States knew that Japan was going to surrender, yet still went ahead with the world’s first atomic bombings in order to send a message to Russia, and the rest of the world. According to the best estimates, over 140,000 civilians were murdered in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 (over 74,000 were killed in Nagasaki a few days later). More than 100,000 Hibakusha (survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima & Nagasaki), were also severely injured in Hiroshima, and forever burdened not only with emotional trauma, but also higher rates of psychological disorders, and chronic illnesses, including cancer, and lung disease. 

One of the most bizarre stories was the appearance of survivor Kyoshi Tanamoto, on the 1955 TV show, This is Your life.  Although fascinating, the episode was as awful and American as you could imagine, with clueless hosts downplaying US War Crimes, and the gravity of the moment, while happily hitting each cue to sell their sponsor’s products (which included nail polish, and Prell shampoo). The TV segment implied that wars were little more than entertainment for the wealthy and powerful, and it even featured the bomber pilot, Robert Lewis, from the Enola Gay (the plane that unleashed the world’s first nuclear bomb on a defenseless population). Both men almost had an intense and genuine moment when Mr. Lewis admitted to saying, “what have we done”, after he witnessed the explosion of the bomb from above the clouds. Of course the censors wanted no part of an authentic reaction from Mr. Tanamoto, so potentially, one of the most powerful exchanges in television history was quickly squashed for the sake of propaganda, and capitalism. Hiroshima’s last chapter made me cry as the author brilliantly sprinkled the names of each country that had tested an atomic bomb throughout the final pages. I was emotional again when I finished the book, and knew that the absolute madness of the US War Machine will never end without accountability, and that the United States stands alone as the greatest threat to the survival of our species. This is an all time great book.