Thinking of ditching animal products in your diet? Your body may thank you. A study published in April 2019 in the Journal of Nutrition found that following a plant-based diet may offer a slew of health benefits, such as lowering markers for diseases, including certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure. In the study, vegans not only had a lower body mass index (BMI) than nonvegetarians (24.7 on average, versus 29.2), they also had lower proportions of saturated fatty acids (a biomarker or molecule found in body fluids or tissues that indicates high consumption of saturated fat, which may contribute to heart disease, er the National Cancer Institute) and higher concentrations of carotenoids and isoflavones (biomarkers associated with eating plant-based foods) than their meat-eating counterparts.
“Plant-based diets are often higher in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and fiber,” says Dena Champion, a registered dietitian at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. “They may be lower in calories and higher in nutrients than a traditional American diet.” An article published in December 2016 in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics also stated that a well-planned vegan diet is nutritionally adequate, Champion says.
Of course, people following a strict vegan diet must be mindful of their intake of vitamin B12, which they will need to add to their diet in the form of supplements or fortified foods. Still, Champion notes that people following a strict vegan diet can get adequate protein through tofu, soy products, whole grains, beans, and nuts, and can find calcium in items such as kale, bok choy, and fortified foods. Also, “keep in mind vegan does not necessarily equal healthy,” Champion warns — a vegan donut or pastry is not a health food.
Luckily for those curious about the vegan diet, interest in plant-based foods has boomed in recent years, as illustrated by the number of vegan bloggers and YouTubers sharing their journeys and recipes with their audiences. We’ve rounded up 12 of the top influencers below, who all take a different approach to the vegan diet. Whether you’re looking for raw foods or healthy versions of comfort foods, these bloggers will likely have something for you:
A Couple of Cooks
Sonja and Alex Overhiser are the brains behind award-winning food blog A Couple of Cooks. The Overhisers, who went from fast and frozen food to a mostly plant-based diet, started sharing vegan and vegetarian recipes on their blog in 2010. Since then, A Couple of Cooks has been featured on the Today show, as well as at WashingtonPost.com, FoodandWine.com, Health.com, Oprah.com, and BonAppetit.com. Their recipes are inspired by seasonal produce and their adventures in travel. Check out their YouTube channel for mouthwatering recipe videos and how-to instructional videos.
Recipes include Vegan Pizza, Vegan Jackfruit Tacos, Vegan Biscuits and Gravy, and Decadent Vegan Chocolate Cake. The Overhisers share even more recipes in their cookbook Pretty Simple Cooking. Some recipes are vegetarian, however, so make sure you search for their vegan recipes.
Whether you’re a veteran vegan or just starting to explore your options, you’ll find a wide variety of vegan recipes on Brownble, from breakfast and snacks to burgers to desserts. But Brownble is more than just a vegan food blog; it’s an online program for people interested in becoming vegan, or making more vegan choices. The Roadmap course ($97), for example, covers vegan nutrition basics, shopping for and planning vegan meals, navigating social situations, and — of course — whipping up tasty vegan recipes. Run by Kim Sujovolsky and her husband, Carlos, Brownble features an educational blog, recipe index with how-to videos, paid online programs and courses, and a highly rated vegan-focused podcast with a new episode out every week (available for free download on iTunes and Stitcher).
If you’re not hungry yet, you will be once you check out Brownble’s recipes. Try their Vegan Waffles, Venezuelan Arepas, Banana Nut Bread, and Sweet Potato Blueberry Chocolate Cake.
After going vegan in the summer of 2015, Emilie Hebert began sharing her yummy plant-powered recipes online. Today, Emilie Eats boasts more than 60,000 followers on Instagram. Hebert, who’s working to become a registered dietitian, believes healthy eating should be accessible to everyone. Every week, she shares a new plant-based recipe made from simple and affordable foods, like lentils, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. She also offers tips for eating vegan without breaking the bank in her e-book Vegan on a Budget, which includes more than 20 healthy meals, snacks, and desserts for $3 or less per serving.
Check out Hebert’s robust selection of recipes, like Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup, Vegan Chicken and Waffles, Orange Tempeh, and Vegan Monster Cookies.
Hot for Food
Lauren Toyota, the voice behind blog and YouTube channel hot for food, serves up vegan comfort food with online recipe videos featuring classics like mac and cheese, Caesar salad, brownies, and much more — full of flavor and empty of any animal products. Toyota launched Hot for Food in February 2014, and actually came from traditional media: She was a TV host and producer for 10 years prior, as she details on her site. She posts new recipes to YouTube every Wednesday and currently boasts just under 400,000 subscribers on her channel. If you’re looking for classic staples that you thought would be off-limits on a vegan diet, hot for food should be one of your first stops. You can also find some of her favorite vegan-friendly recipes in her new book, Hot for Food Vegan Comfort Classics: 101 Recipes to Feed Your Face.
Toyota’s recipes include Cauliflower Buffalo Wings, Vegan Sloppy Joe Dip, and Vegan Chocolate Candy Cane Cookies.
Oh She Glows
Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows started her blogging journey in 2008, while working as a psychology researcher. The blog became more than a creative outlet for Liddon: After deciding that she wasn’t fulfilled in her research career, Liddon started blogging full time, eventually narrowing her focus to plant-based recipes as she continued to learn more about cooking, photography, and eating mindfully. Her first cookbook, The Oh She Glows Cookbook, was a New York Times bestseller, and in 2015, her blog started receiving over one million unique readers each month. Liddon offers a variety of accessible recipes that work for many plant-based diets, including gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, and more.
Some of her new recipes include Flourless Bite-Sized Breakfast Muffins, Vegan Sugar Cookies With Pink Frosting, and One-Pot Quinoa and Black Bean Wraps.
The Full Helping
You may know this blog from its prior name, Choosing Raw, where founder Gena Hamshaw first started blogging about her recovery from an eating disorder and her love for raw vegan foods. Since then, Hamshaw has transitioned the name and focus of the blog, now called The Full Helping. While she still enjoys and posts about raw foods, Hamshaw focuses on balance and mindfulness, and includes not only recipes but also thoughtful posts about body image, diets, health, and other topics. She even devotes a section, called the Green Recovery series, to posts where others can tell personal stories of how vegan diets have helped their struggle with eating disorders.
Posts include recipes for Curried Delicata Squash and Chickpeas and a Vegan Dumpling Bowl, a reflective post about National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and a roundup of vegan recipes and articles that Hamshaw handpicks for the week.
The Minimalist Baker
If cooking or baking sounds intimidating, The Minimalist Baker is designed for you. Founder Dana Shultz, who established the brand back in 2012, shares plant-based recipes that require fewer than 10 ingredients, one bowl, or 30 minutes or less to prepare. The recipes are also mostly gluten-free, and feature a wide variety of desserts, main courses, and snacks. And going along with the minimalist theme, Dana and her team actually don’t accept sponsorships for any of their posts — a stance that may help explain how the brand has skyrocketed to one million Instagram followers.
Recipes include a Creamy Zucchini Blueberry Smoothie, Curried Quinoa Chickpea Burgers, and Vegan Cauliflower Pizza Crust.
She doesn’t describe herself as a blogger, but on her website, chef Chloe Coscarelli offers a trove of delicious, plant-based inspiration. Coscarelli first caught national attention when she competed in Season 1 of Food Network’s hit show Cupcake Wars, going up against other experienced bakers while wowing the judges with her own plant-based creations. After winning the competition, she continued to build her vegan empire, publishing a number of cookbooks, including Chloe’s Kitchen and Chloe’s Vegan Desserts and dabbling in the restaurant industry. Most recently, she announced a new concept shop at St. Roch Market in Miami, featuring her vegan recipes (including cupcakes!).
Coscarelli offers some delicious twists on favorite foods, like recipes for a Summer Smoothie Parfait, Pineapple Guacamole, and Cajun Yam Fries, on her website.
After Ella Mills was diagnosed with postural tachycardia syndrome in 2011, she began to experiment with her diet and lifestyle. (The syndrome occurs when too little blood returns to the heart when moving from a lying down to a sitting position, according to the National Institutes of Health.) Eventually, she cut processed foods and started a whole-food, plant-based diet.
Since starting her blog, she has created an app for her content and published numerous cookbooks. As just one measure of her success, her Instagram base is also 1.2 million and counting.
Some of her most recent recipes include Bang Bang Cauliflower With Sweet and Spicy Sauce, Pancakes With Coconut Yogurt, Pecans, and Coconut Chips, and a Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke, Hazelnut, and Kale Salad.
Thug Kitchen is a plant-based blog that delivers vegan recipes with attitude. But Thug Kitchen isn’t about attitude for attitude’s sake: The mission of the site is to promote accessibility and community, and to ensure that high-quality vegan food and recipes aren’t just available for those with disposable income, say the founders, Michelle Davis and Matt Halloway. Thus far, the team behind Thug Kitchen has three best-selling cookbooks under their belt, including No. 1 New York Times Best Seller Thug Kitchen: Eat Like You Give a F*ck.
Recipes include Pasta Primavera and Roasted Red Pepper Sauce with Roasted Potatoes. In the latter, true to form, the intro reads that it will “improve some of the lamest parties just by being there. Ya know, kinda like you.”
If you’re concerned about the dessert options on a plant-based diet, head over to Chocolate Covered Katie, a blog that focuses on healthy dessert recipes. Katie Higgins has up to six million blog viewers each month, and her recipes have been featured on The Today Show, The Food Network, CNN, and more, she notes on her page. She also has a cookbook, Hello Breakfast!, which came out in 2016. Her Instagram account, with over 300,000 followers, also details her recipe experiments.
Most recently, her posts include a round-up of keto-friendly dessert recipes, a recipe for a healthy version of McDonald’s Shamrock Shake, a recipe for Homemade Blueberry Oatmeal Bars, and a recipe for Peanut Butter Rice Crispy Treats.
This Rawsome Vegan Life
Founder Emily von Euw (you can call her “Em”) of This Rawsome Vegan Life started their blog back in 2011, initially focusing on raw desserts. In fact, their Instagram features an astounding array of beautifully set up photographs of vegan dishes, many of them raw vegan desserts. Besides their passion for vegan food, Em also carefully considers a number of other causes related to plant-based diets, including the food distribution system and the suffering of animals.
Em’s recipes include Zucchini and Chickpea Frittata, Quick Almond Butter Cookies, Matcha Latte, Blueberry Blackberry Sorbet, and Sugar-Free Dark Chocolate.