Good Health Reads: Everyday Vegan, Amy Lanza

With so many health-transforming books being released, WholeFoods wanted to know what the experts are reading. Here, Amy Lanza, author of Nourishing Vegan Every Day, shares her favorites.

Books collection isolated on background.

Wellness is such a loaded word, and one that will take on different meanings depending on who you ask. With the boom of the wellbeing industry in the last few years, finding a personal connection to our own wellbeing has often become muddied: a toss-up between superfood powders, the latest diet fads, and the newest meditations and exercises you need to stay “healthy.” 

For me, wellness is an all-encompassing approach. It’s a 360º understanding of the term that weaves its way into every part of my life.

Ultimately wellness is about balance. It is about being connected to who I am, who I want to be and living in the moment.

This also rings true for the food I eat, how I eat intuitively and how I celebrate food every day. 

There have been many books and individuals that have inspired my wellbeing journey over the years: from cookbooks to hands-on books written by wellbeing gurus, to listening to inspiring podcasts with thought-leaders. Each has shaped my approach to life and to my own wellbeing. 

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Bread Bad Ones by James Clear 

I only recently read James Clear’s Atomic Habits at the start of 2022; I was pretty late to the game. But my connection and takeaways from the book were so great that it shows that you are only ever too late if you never start. Clear’s book is broken up into bite-sized chapters, with the main focus on how to become 1% better each day. What “better” means to you, will be different to me, but these small changes we can all implement really do stack up to create lasting and powerful change. Clear also delves into the science and psychology behind habit breaking and habit making, and I would hear the proverbial pin drop numerous times while reading this book. One technique I implemented straight away is the notion of habit stacking, whereby you tie a new desired behavior to one you already do. (For example, after I get dressed, I will journal and write my morning gratitudes, rather than aimlessly telling myself to journal at some point in the day). Another take-home is the Four Laws of Behaviour Changes, which states to make desirable habits obvious, attractive, easy, and satisfying. Finally, Clear makes the interesting point that “the most effective way to change your habits is to focus not on what you want to achieve, but who you wish to become.” 

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown 

Creating and finding the tools to better yourself is also a topic which Brené Brown explores in The Gifts Of Imperfection. Brown encourages us all to embrace our vulnerabilities in order to live our best lives. Brown’s wholehearted living revolution invites us to choose authenticity, intuition and worthiness over the need to be accepted by others and perfectionism. Divided into the 10 guideposts of love, belonging, and being enough, each chapter forced me to think about the relationship I have with myself, how much value I place on other people’s opinions of me, and how I can change this. I especially love the 7th guidepost entitled “Letting Go of Exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth” because I know only too well the constant strive to be busy. We often feel shame if we don’t do enough, whereas in reality, rest and play will only improve our creativity, joy for life and contentment. I make sure to add in a few restful activities just for fun each day and feel so much more balanced as a result. 

East by West: Simple Recipes for Ultimate Mind-Body Balance by Jasmine Hemsley 

Listening to our body’s cues, desires, and cravings is similarly covered in Jasmine Hemsley’s East By West cookbook. Much more than recipes alone, Hemsley offers insight into the ancient art of Ayurvedic philosophy of eating to nourish, sustain and repair for the ultimate mind-body balance. I was fascinated to learn about the three body types known as doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha), which are described as biological energies throughout the body. I loved discovering which foods to eat for which dosha and how your body responds to certain foods e.g. adding turmeric and ginger for their healing properties. The book features delicious recipes like soothing Kitchari, Veg Masala for the Brain and Banana and Date Cookie Dough Bites, with a focus on high0quality, seasonal produce. Hemsley encouraged me to think about the energies of food and how it affects my mood, digestion and enjoyment of each meal. 

I could go on for a long while talking about wellbeing books that have shaped my approach to everyday living, as there are really are so many life-affirming resources out there. From cookbooks, to self-help guides, exclusive online training groups and so much more, there has never been a better time to prioritise your own health and wellbeing. I hope these three books will shed a little light into how you can create joy and nourishment every day. 

You can find Amy Lanza’s book here, and see how simple it can be to add vegan cooking into your daily routine.