A whole food plant-based diet is healthy and sustainable: Here’s how to eat WFPB

In 1866, the phrase, “Eat an apple at bedtime, and you keep the doctor from earning his bread,” appeared in a magazine for the first time. Since then, it has become more familiar: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” And while it may seem oversimplified, the core of this old saying still stands today. Basically, this means: eat nutritious foods to help you maintain good health.

Although apples are a good source of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, they are only one example of a nutritious plant-based whole food. Other examples include leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, root vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes, as well as nuts, seeds, beans, beans, and tofu. All of these foods are nutritious, minimally processed, and examples of what can be eaten in a whole foods, plant-based diet, also commonly called a WFPB diet.

Here we take a closer look at what the WFPB diet is, its benefits, and some nutritious recipes you might enjoy if you decide to give it a try.


What is a whole food plant based diet?

Although it may sound complicated, following a WFPB diet is actually very easy. Basically, it involves keeping processed foods to a minimum and eliminating animal products, while filling your plate with whole foods like vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, and nuts. It’s important to remember that ingredients don’t always have to be fresh. Shelf-stable foods, such as canned beans, can also be part of a WFPB diet and are often more affordable.

Is a whole food plant-based diet different from a vegetarian diet?

Veganism is a lifestyle that eliminates the use of animal products as much as possible. For that reason, many vegetarians choose to follow the WFPB diet, as it does not include any animal ingredients. But that said, not all vegans follow this diet. Many foods such as French fries or the Beyond Burger, for example, are vegan, but because they are processed, they are not examples of whole foods.

VegNews.Vegetable CarrotsPexels

Whole food, plant based food facility

An extensive study confirms that a WFPB diet is one of the healthiest ways to eat. It is associated with a lower risk of several chronic diseases and conditions, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and several types of cancer.

A key reason a WFPB diet is healthy is that it’s rich in fiber, says registered dietitian Ashley Kitchens, MPH, RD, LDN, who also owns the plant-based platform Plant Centered Nutrition. “Fiber can help regulate blood sugar levels, normalize bowel movements, lower cholesterol levels and keep your colon healthy,” she explains. “Whole food plant-based eaters consume about three times more fiber than individuals following a standard American diet.”

Dima Salhubi, RD, CDN, MS, owner of Fresh Nutrition Counseling, agrees. He adds that whole food ingredients are a good natural source of vitamins and minerals, which help keep our bodies nourished and healthy. Antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, help neutralize free radicals in the body. (Research suggests that free radicals are dangerous compounds that can play a role in disease development.) “Disease prevention and healthy living start with simple swaps of ingredients at home,” explains Salhubi. “It’s the simple decisions we make every day in our lives, about what goes into our bodies, that can either harm our health or benefit our health.”

But nutrition aside, because it avoids animal products, a WFPB diet also has environmental benefits. Animal agriculture (especially due to cattle ranching and the animal feed industry) is a major cause of deforestation and destruction of wildlife habitats, for example. The entire livestock sector emits 14.5 percent of global greenhouse gases and pollutes waterways, affecting communities and underwater ecosystems. In addition, it harms billions of animals, most of whom spend most of their lives in cramped, dirty, factory farm conditions.

This is why, for many, a WFPB diet is not just a diet, but a conscious lifestyle choice, helping to reduce harm to the planet and other animals.

What can you eat on a whole food, plant based diet?

Although a WFPB restricts certain foods, it is far from restrictive. In fact, it contains a wide range of ingredients that are delicious, nutritious and versatile. Here are some basic examples of the types of foods you can eat on a WFPB diet.


1 Beans and beans

Beans and legumes, such as kidney beans, chickpeas, lentils, peas, and black beans are a good source of protein, as well as fiber, calcium, zinc, and B vitamins. They’re filling, low-fat and incredibly versatile. Take the common chickpea, for example. This ingredient can be enjoyed on its own, fried, crumbled into hummus, or mixed with some seaweed to make a delicious chunky tuna. The options are endless.

VegNews.  Lacinato KaleGetty Images

2 Leafy greens

Spinach, kale, bok choy, cabbage, and collard greens are just a few examples of vegetables you can enjoy on the WFPB diet. They are good sources of calcium, as well as vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A and folate. Leafy greens can form the basis of several WFPB meals, including delicious salads and stir-fries. Take this vegan stir fry recipe, for example, which calls for bok choy as the star ingredient.


3 fruit

From berries to citrus, fruits are loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and dietary fiber and are an important and nutritious addition to a WFPB diet. It is important to mention here though that store-bought fruit juices are not considered whole foods and this is because they have been processed. Also, they are usually high in sugar. However, you can still enjoy the fruit in liquid form. For example, homemade smoothie recipes often use whole food ingredients like this vegan blueberry smoothie jar.

VegNews.RadishesGetty Images

4 root vegetables

Like many other examples on this list, root vegetables, such as carrots, radishes, beets, and sweet potatoes, are packed with vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants like carotenoids, which help maintain immune and eye health. From sweet to savory, root vegetables can form the basis of many WFPB recipes, including the fruit classic, sweet potato pie.


6 mushroom

Mushrooms, especially the king oyster, shiitake and portabello varieties, are a great WFPB alternative to animal products for those who prefer a meaty texture. They can be swapped into dishes like tacos, stir-fries and whole-grain risotto to get the flavor and mouth feel of meat. In addition, they are nutritious, as they are rich in B vitamins such as riboflavin, niacin, and pantothenic acid, as well as fiber, potassium, and vitamin C.


7 Tofu and tempeh

Tofu and tempeh are also nutritious alternatives to meat. Both are derived from soy and packed with protein. Per 100 grams, tempeh has about 19 grams of protein, for example, and tofu has about 8 grams. While tempeh and tofu are processed, it’s only a minimal amount, so many people who follow the WFPB diet still choose to enjoy them.


8 Nuts, seeds and grains

Nuts, seeds, and grains are also sources of protein in the WFPB diet. Whole grains, such as oats, are also rich in vitamin E and fiber, and research suggests they may also lower cholesterol levels. Likewise, seeds like chia and flax and nuts like walnuts contain fiber. Plus, they’re a great source of healthy fats like omega-3s, which help support heart health. In fact, just 10 walnuts contain about 2 grams of omega-3s.

Whole food, plant-based recipes

Cooking on a WFPB diet can be as simple or as creative and complex as you want it to be. And whatever your preference, whether you’re a curry connoisseur or you’ve got a super sweet tooth, you’ll be able to find plenty of recipes for you. To get you started, here are a few examples of the types of foods you can enjoy

VegNews.Plant Based Cooking.Squash SaladPlant-based cooking

1 Roasted Squash Salad with Pomegranate and Pepitas

Gone are the days when salad was seen as a boring side dish. This delicious, vibrant salad combines pomegranate, for a subtly sweet, tangy flavor, with savory, roasted squash for a flavor profile you’ll crave long after you’ve taken your last bite.
look at it

VegNews.ButternutSupBetsy Freeman

2 Shiitake Mushroom and Butternut Squash Soup

Cooler weather calls for a hearty, savory soup, and this recipe will not disappoint. The blend of shiitake mushrooms, garlic and butternut squash will not only warm your insides but also treat them to a burst of vitamins and minerals. Also, it is easy and relatively quick to make.
look at it


3 Chickpea flour omelette

When it comes to breakfast or brunch, there’s no rule that says eggs have to be involved. This recipe, which combines chickpea flour, turmeric, spices and vegetables, among other plant-based ingredients, proves that animal-free omelets can be delicious too.
look at it

VegNews.ChocolateMousse.TheGardenGrazerThe Garden Grazer

4 Avocado Chocolate Mousse

Yes, you read that right—you can eat chocolate mousse on the WFPB diet. In fact, this is one of the many sweet treats that can be made with only plant-based ingredients. Don’t be put off by the avocado, you can barely taste it, but it helps create a deliciously creamy and delightful texture.
look at it

VegNews.Thai Vegetable Curry.HannahKaminskyWhy Bergeron?

5 Thai vegetable curry

If you think you have to sacrifice your favorite recipes on a WFPB diet, you’ll be thrilled to know that’s not the case. With just a few simple changes, many favorite dishes, like this creamy Thai vegetable curry, can be made with only whole food ingredients.
look at it

For more diet-focused guides, read:

Source link