The REAL Best Books of 2014


The REAL picks for 2014 consist of an eclectic list of 10 books that represent the wide reach of our mission here at Responsible Eating And Living, educating the public about the health and environmental benefits of transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle.  Each book is outstanding in its own right.  They are listed here simply in alphabetical order and are not ranked in any way. They are all REAL winners!



1. Becoming Vegan Comprehensive Edition, Brenda Davis, Vesanto Melina

Becoming-Vegan-Comprehensive-EditionBrenda Davis and Vesanto Melina have been researching and writing about nutrition for decades.  They are a trusted source of knowledge in plant-based nutrition.  When I have a nutrition question, this is the book I go to for the answer.  I am grateful to know these two giants of the nutrition world, who not only “talk the talk” and “walk the walk” but they can write it too.

Listen to the interviews with Brenda Davis, Vesanto Melina.




2. Farming with Native Beneficial Insects: Ecological Pest Control Solutions, by Eric Lee-Mäder, Jennifer Hopwood, Mace Vaughan, Scott Hoffman Black, and Lora Morandin

farmingMy spirits were raised to new heights reading this beautiful book from the Xerces Society and learning about how we can nurture and sustain our environment while growing nourishing abundant food with methods that are natural, simple and stunningly beautiful.  Our farms can be gorgeous landscape of wild flowers, native plants and beneficial insects all living in harmony as nature designed.

Listen to the interview with Eric Lee-Mӓder.




3. The Chain, Robin Lamont

the-chainSometimes we need a fictional story to let us know more about our true selves and what is actually going on around us – things that may be oblivious to us in our harried everyday lives.  The Chain is an action-packed thriller but it can also serve as wakeup call.  We all need to be aware of where our food comes from, how it is made, who is exploited and what occurs every step of the way until it reaches our plates.  The truth is very disturbing.

Listen to the interview with Robin Lamont.




4. The Elephant in the Room by Martin Rowe

elephantThis book was published by Lantern Books towards the end of 2013, in November but I am including it in my 2014 list because I read it in 2014. In The Elephant in the Room, Rowe, Lantern books cofounder, examines the lives and work of Wangari Maathai and Daphne Shledrick, two very different Kenyan conservationists. Through stories and historical analysis, Rowe excavates the causes for the exploitation of elephants along with the prejudices many of us are born with that lead to racism, sexism, speciesism and allow us to desecrate the planet.  This is a fascinating read, intelligently written. Rowe enables us to reflect on our own prejudices and assumptions. This is essential for activists, as we may not be aware of other cultures and the negative impact of our sometimes naïve actions.

Listen to the interview with Martin Rowe on an earlier book, The Polar Bear In The Zoo.

5. The End of Dieting by Dr. Joel Fuhrman

dietingI have said many times that Dr. Fuhrman is my favorite doctor. Gary and I were fortunate to be in the audience for the PBS filming of End Dieting Forever! based on his newest book, The End of Dieting.  Dr. Fuhrman is thorough, to the point and very readable.  I wish everyone would read his books and follow his recommendations for nutritional excellence. We would all be a lot healthier and happier as a result.

Listen to interviews with Dr. Joel Fuhrman: The End of Diabetes, Eat To Live.



6. The Gentle Barn by Ellie Laks

gentle-barnI had the good fortune to interview Ellie Laks back in August of 2014. It was a very busy time and I did not have a chance to read her book, The Gentle Barn, before the interview.  That is not normally my style. I always read the author’s book before speaking with them.  I promised myself I would read it and it sat on my shelf for a while.  One day, it called to me and I read it in one night. It was an evening where I needed to read the message, although I was not aware of it until I finished the book.  Ellie’s story is compelling. She was abused as a child and all through life she is challenged by adversity.  Yet she perseveres, believing in her dream, her mission, to create the Gentle Barn.  Her emotional scars are healed along the way by the animals she rescues and cares for. It is an inspiration to us all – to follow our hearts and do what we are here on the planet to do.  I loved this memoir.  It reenergized and focused my own work, returning me to my path.

Listen to the interview with Ellie Laks.

7. The Oxen at the Intersection by pattrice jones.

oxenThis is the story of two cows called Bill and Lou who had been living at Green Mountain College in Vermont. Lou gets injured and the school decides to kill and eat both Bill and Lou as a symbol of sustainability.  Pattrice tells the story of her organization’s futile attempts to offer sanctuary to the animals and save their lives.  It is an unbelievable story and I could not put it down. As in The Elephant in the Room, another Lantern book, The Oxen at the Intersection demonstrates how cultural assumptions at the college led to an unfortunate, unnecessary outcome, and, subsequently provides a critical analysis of the disharmony within the animal rights movement.

Listen to the interview with pattrice jones.

8. Thrive Energy Cookbook by Brendan Brazier

thriveBrendan Brazier, the former professional Ironman triathlete and two-time Canadian ultramarathon champion, has personally studied the effect of nutritional excellence on energy and performance.  He walks the walk and runs super fast! Every recipe in the Thrive Energy Cookbook is clean, allergen-free and every ingredient has a nutritional purpose. Whether you are a professional athlete or not, these recipes will give you the energy to thrive and you’ll enjoy every bite.

Listen to the interview with Brendan Brazier.


9. Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Café by Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos, Jorge Pineda

candlePierson, Ramos and Pineda’s book is filled with recipes that are worthy of any holiday or celebration! This is a beautiful book filled with gorgeous photographs of luxurious food, covering all the holidays from Superbowl Sunday to New Year’s Eve.  If you are familiar with the Candle Café restaurants, you will know that their food and recipes are not only delicious and comforting, they are filled with love. Pick up a copy and make all your holidays sumptuously special.

Listen to the interview with Joy Pierson and Bart Potenza.


10. Vegan Tacos by Jason Wyrick

tacosThere are new vegan cookbooks coming out all the time – this is something to celebrate.  I was particularly surprised when I read Vegan Tacos by Jason Wyrick, as it stands out above the rest. Wyrick is a true chef, he explains with passion and detail everything that goes into making a great taco: the peppers for the seasoning; the corn for the tortillas; the history – more than you could ever imagine.  It makes for delicious reading.

Listen to the interview with Jason Wyrick.

  4 comments for “The REAL Best Books of 2014

  1. Thanks Caryn for the information about Dr. Fuhrman. He does have some very good books worth reading for anyone trying to stay healthy. My husband and I went vegan for health reasons. Now that the holidays are over, we found that it’s not easy to be around family and friends when food is so important in our lives. You are so right that it’s going to take a long time and we have to do what feels right.

  2. Your podcast is my favorite one! Dr. Fuhrman’s book that is on your list was the first one I bought as a vegan and thought he was one of the best. Then he was on the Dr. Oz show on 1/15/15 recommending that in our daily diet to only eat 10% in meat and chicken and fish were better than beef. I don’t think he knows anything about animal rights and the detrimental effects of eating beef, chicken and fish. Dr. Oz seems rather ignorant, too, when one of his guest liked bread and butter pickles and snickerdoodles. He didn’t know what they were. I’ve learned a lot by listening to your podcast. Thank you so much for the hard work and time you spend providing such good information. I love the music, too.

    • Thanks Sharon for your very lovely words! Dr. Fuhrman does know and care a lot about animal rights and the devastating impact animal agriculture has on the environment. He’s a very smart man, and a very kind one too. Everyone in this food movement takes a different approach but most are in line with the same goals. Dr. Fuhrman, as a medical doctor who specializes in nutrition, takes a nutrition approach. He knows that by telling people they can have a little animal food in their diets they will be more open and receptive to eating more plant foods. And it works. If you read his books carefully, he says that animal products are not healthy. He does not want to turn away people by saying they must be vegan. He says we should be “nutritarian” and that means a diet based on nutrient dense plant foods. Some animal rights activists are suggesting people go vegetarian these days, when they used to say go vegan because they find they get better results. Do the ends justify the means? Each one of us has to do what feels right. I am vegan, I want to end all pain and suffering caused by exploitation. I don’t think there is one way to do this. I just know it’s going to take a long time. We’ll get there. In the meantime, I’ll be doing my podcasts and other projects! I was on Dr. Oz once, back in 2009 and it was very hard for me to stay quiet when he and Dr. David Katz were recommending eating salmon. But it wasn’t my show! I was there to talk about green juice and anti cancer foods, being an ovarian cancer survivor. And that’s why we are starting our own show, a web series, here at Responsible Eating And Living. The first episode went live today! – Caryn

  3. Good morning,
    I want to commend you on a great compilation of books for this list. However, I am disappointed that there is one glaring omission of an incredibly relevant book from this past year. I wanted to suggest you include, Food Choice and Sustainability, by Richard Oppenlander. It is quite difficult to list the Best of 2014 without mentioning this book as it is the winner of a number of book awards in 2014 and connects many dots dealing with food choice, the environment, and sustainability.
    Thank you for your consideration,

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