If you aren’t very familiar with the plant-based and vegan world, I wrote this section to get you acquainted.

Plant-based diet – A general term to describe a diet of primarily plants which is usually chosen for health reasons. The term is often used to refer to 100% plant-derived diets, but may also be used for diets that include modest amounts of animal-based products.

Whole foods plant-based (WFPB) diet – A plant-based diet that focuses on eating plants in their intact, whole form with minimal processing. Some whole grain pasta, whole grain bread, nut butters, etc may be included but the focus is on foods as they’re found in nature: whole wheat berries, oat groats, whole nuts (without the shell!), beans, fruits, vegetables, etc. This term usually refers to 100% plant-based diets.

Vegan diet – Vegans avoid supporting all industries that confine or harm animals (like farms, zoos, rodeos, leather), as far as is practical. There’s nothing inherently health-promoting about a vegan diet. Oreos and twizzlers are vegan!

These terms can be confusing especially because people will misuse them.

Coaching and Behavior Change

Everything Howard Jacobson offers online at is brilliant. He’s a writer, teacher, coach and advocate for justice, sustainability and whole foods plant-based living. His humility and sense of humor are disarming, his intelligence incisive, and his ability to unleash fabulous metaphors in casual conversation always makes me smile. Check out his podcast–it’s the best!


There are soooo many free plant-based recipes online. If you like to watch Youtube: try Rainbow Plant Life or The Whole Food Plant Based Cooking Show. Cooking for Peanuts is amazing on Instagram. Other places to read wonderful recipes: Oh She Glows, Vegan Richa, Forks over Knives . . . then there are the apps. Once you get the hang of plant-based cooking, you can take your favorite recipes from the New York Times, or anywhere, and ‘veganize’ them.

If you’re wanting to try out a “WFPB no SOS” way of eating which has a unique ability to quiet cravings, check out Straight Up Food by Cathy Fisher. She’s a self-taught chef offering tasty, ‘straight up,’ familiar dishes with a super healthy flair. She doesn’t use any refined oils, refined sugars or salt in her recipes. (hence: “no SOS”.) If you haven’t gone “no-SOS”, no problem; you can add a little salt, oil or sugar to taste to most recipes (careful with baked goods, however). I have Cathy’s Straight Up Food cookbook which is a reliable resource for simple plant-based recipes and cooking tips–the spiral binding is a big plus.

Nutrition and Health information

The preponderance of scientific evidence shows that a mostly whole food plant-based dietary pattern can help in the prevention and treatment of chronic lifestyle diseases. That said, not everyone needs to eat 100% plant-based to optimize their health. Because the ethical and environmental benefits of a plant-based diet are also vast, I encourage others to go as plant-based as they can.

Here are a few of my favorite health professionals who offer exceptional, evidence-based content online to laypeople. They have podcasts, youtube channels and websites.

Physiotherapist and Nutritionist Simon Hill hosts an information-packed podcast (The Proof) where he interviews experts, mostly in the fields of nutrition and exercise. He sometimes gets ‘into the weeds’ of the science (which I appreciate) and emerges with summaries and straight-forward takeaways. Although Simon advocates for a plant-based dietary pattern, in general, he welcomes guests with varied views on his show. Simon also ventures into topics such as environmental sustainability and human relationships, reflecting the larger context of human health and well-being. Simon’s first book, The Proof is in the Plants, came out in 2021.

Danny Lennon of Sigma Nutrition

Gil Carvalho, MD, PhD of Nutrition Made Simple

Mario Kratz, PhD of Nourished By Science

The “Godmothers” of vegan nutrition

Vesanto Melina, Brenda Davis, RD and Ginny Messina, RD are pioneers in the plant-based nutrition world. I have their books from 20-30 years ago and they’re still going strong. I trust everything they write. The first two co-authored a great book recently Vegan Powered Protein which I highly recommend.

General Health Resources

Dawn Motyka, MD is a Santa Cruz family physician who specializes in Functional Medicine. She’s a ‘regular’ doctor with a holistic approach. She generously answers questions from callers and emailers on her radio show and you can hear the archives via her podcast or on her website. We are fortunate to have her in our community.