Whole Foods Plant-Based: Diet Guide
November 03, 2020 by Samuel Anthony
Plant-based and vegan are often used interchangeably, but the two terms carry different meanings. Find out what a whole foods plant based diet is, how to follow it with success and what it can mean for your health, the planet, and animals. High-protein whole foods plant based diets are completely achievable. Learn the life changing plant-based diet and a difference to your mind and body.
What is Veganism?
Going "vegan" is a much stricter practice than many realise - with more and more claiming to be vegan, arguably with little idea what that statement really means.
Vegans ensure their life brings no harm to animals in any and every way they can.
As a broader lifestyle and personal philosophy, veganism influences clothing, dietary and many other day-to-day lifestyle choices - including which car you choose to drive (as some cars use animal products in tyres and seating)!
In short, veganism refers to a whole lot more than dieting and food choices.
As much as veganism feels modern - and it really is on the rise - it has been around for thousands of years.
Many periods in history across various regions and religions have seen meat banned.
Some of our favourite plant-based meat alternatives are many thousands of years older than we might have imagined.
Recently, our changing environment has increased interest in this low-emissions, low-harm lifestyle.
What is Plant-Based?
Plant-based refers to a dietary preference that aims to reduce consumption of animal products as much and as often as possible.
Where veganism is permanent and followed at all times, plant-based is more flexible.
Some following plant-based diets may occasionally deviate from the guidelines. However, plant-based should mean meat, dairy, fish and any other animal products are avoided as much as possible.
What is Whole Foods Plant-Based?
Whole-foods Plant-Based (WFPB) takes the plant-based diet a stage further. Where plant-based seeks only to avoid animal products, WFPB adds to this by also avoiding processed foods.
In place of processed, inflammatory foods should be whole fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds and plenty of dietary fibre.
Many who follow this diet also refer to it as the "real foods" diet. By this suggesting that processed foods are entirely artificial and should therefore not find their way into your regular diet.
Why Go Plant-Based?
Here are just some of the benefits of switching to plant-based or whole foods plant-based...
It's cheaper than ever!
Firstly, the vegetable aisle at your local supermarket may easily be home to some of the cheapest products on offer: fresh vegetables, greens and fruit.
Plant-based milks, such as oat and soy, are selling at major supermarkets now at in-and-around £1 for a litre carton.
Additionally, while I do not promote a processed diet - particularly to anyone who suffers with high inflammation - meat alternatives are cheaper than they have ever been.
Reduced cardiovascular risks and clearer arteries
Plant-foods contain 0 cholesterol. That's a heck of a reason to want to try it in itself. Less artery clogging cholesterol leads to better performance and multiple reduced health risks.
Second to this, plant-based diets contain far healthier levels of saturated and trans fats. Which both can cause similar issues to cholesterol.
More fibre, better gut health
New and exciting research into the world of bacteria, viruses and fungi that live in our gut, keeping us alive and well every day, is coming to light.
Our 'healthy' bacteria break down fibres that we cannot; generating more caloric energy for us to use. They keep us feeling energetic and well; they could even benefit that impossible final bench press, or allow you to hold that plank just a couple of seconds more.
Protein & Plant-Based
When talking ideally about a change back towards a natural, plant-foods diet, success depends on how open minded you are to dietary change.
Many vegan meat substitutes are available in your local supermarket, and are packed with protein, and taste incredible! They continue to improve and the prices are cheaper than ever.
However, try to include non-processed protein sources (chickpeas, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole 100% peanut butter, most vegetables contain some).
There is much more than tofu in a vegan diet in place of meat. It is important to remember that the sole reason meat contains protein is because that animal ate protein from soy feed or from grazing.
Remember the protein deficiency argument is a myth. I have never come across protein deficiency and our recommended intake is not only easy to achieve, but much higher than needed.
The largest mammals are completely vegan. Meat is not a natural predominant part of our diet - we possess molars and grinding teeth... just look at the teeth of a lion and think again about your personal adaptations for meat and hunting.
Guidelines: Foods to Avoid
Simply put, vegans and those on plant-based diets avoid any food products that are made from animals (meat/fish), or their by-products (dairy/honey).
Obvious foods to remove
Goat's milk too. This is perhaps the most important to remove, as well as its by-products, as milk 'robs our bones of calcium' (1). This is caused by our bodies attempt to cope with milk's acidity.
Infected udders from over-production of milk in female cows cause inflammatory pus to enter our diets! Milk relies on a female cow to have recently given birth - this life of continuous reimpregnation is inhumane and unjustified.
About milk... it has many by-products. Most obvious is cheese - but be sure to look out for lactose, milk powder, and other hidden milk derivatives. Avoid slowing yourself down and risking serious heart conditions for cheese.
Cheese can be as addictive as heroin. Again, and goat's cheese.
Veganism and the plant-based diet support the ideas of animal freedom and sustainability. The over-consumption of fish is driving a global emergency in our oceans.
No human being should eat meat at the volume we do. It causes toxic levels of inflammation and is directly linked with diseases of recent years, including IBD and diabetes.
The proteins - and what come with them - in meat are far worse for you than plant proteins, and are directly associated with poor immune health, due to the presence of inflammatory compounds such as heme iron.
No animal should suffer, nor die, for the sake of our taste buds. We DO NOT need meat to survive, nor are we adapted in any way to suggest it is a natural part of our diet.
Less obvious foods to remove
Free-range is close-to a fantasy. Most occasions the use of "free-range" is not a sign of welfare nor that the hens were given masses of space. Millions of one-day old hens are killed in the UK every year.
Found in jelly. Made with animal bones.
We need bees, and we need them healthy. Mass and controlled production of bees for honey is wiping out our natural populations. Healthy bees are being made ill by overpopulated intensive farming conditions. No bees, no earth. Grow lavender in your garden and leave honey alone!
Fish bladders. Used to make beer and wine, though no all - in fact many don't.
Whey Protein Powder
Vegan protein shakes exist and are sold by the biggest brands too. So no need to extend our harm to animals for lower-quality, inflammatory milk proteins. Vegan protein may keep you going for longer without slowing you down.
Colouring can often be made with crushed bugs! Gross as this sounds it is common and chances are, you have eaten them! Also watch out for non-vegan e-numbers and other additives (Check out the attached guide - see source 2).
Sources & Further Reading
The following articles, resources and studies have either been used for research purposes in the writing of this article or as suggested furthering reading.
1 - PETA: '12 Reasons to Stop Drinking Cow's Milk'
2 - The Vegetarian Society: 'E numbers: What you need to know'
Foods that Help You Sleep Better at Night
Exploring foods that help you sleep naturally through the night and tips on how to achieve a healthy sleep-wake cycle, and cope with anxiety, without pills.Read article