Note: this post has been updated in February 2022.
You hear people talk all the time about “plant-based diets.” Let's look at what is a plant-based diet and the variations or types of plant-based diets? Plant-based diets center on whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. The basic description of whole foods is food that is unprocessed and in its natural state. Plant-based means anything that grows in the soil and does not come from any animal such as meat, eggs, milk, or honey. People following a vegan diet will not buy or use products that come from animals including cosmetics, lotions (lanolin), and clothing (leather).
There are three general plant-based diets
Vegetarian – eats vegetables and fruit, but also consumes eggs and dairy
Vegan – eats vegetables, fruits, beans, grains and no eggs or dairy (may eat soy “meat” or cheese substitutes)
Whole Food Plant-Based Diet/Plant Strong – eat only whole plant food, no meat or cheese, no dairy, and no processed foods (imitation meat and cheese substitutes)
The benefits of plant-based diets are that they are more nutritious because you are getting the vitamins and nutrients in the vegetables, protein from the grains and legumes (beans, lentils, peas) that the Standard American diet is missing. We don’t eat enough of these nutrients per day to be as healthy as we could be.
The whole foods plant-based diet and the plant-strong diet are the same diets as in both camps these diets do not include any meat or dairy. The phrase “Plant-Strong” was coined by Rip Esselstyn. Plant-strong is the term used by Rip Esselstyn and the followers of Engine 2 which include the food products sold and marketed through Whole Foods.
What is a Whole Food Plant-Based diet?
Without all the descriptions and names, the simplest answer is a diet full of plants without the addition of processed foods. This diet eliminates all animal products, including dairy and eggs, and anything that is processed or imitated.
For those who follow a plant-based diet, instead of meals being based on meat with supplementary vegetables, the focus is always on the meal's largest concentration being on the plant foods with grains and legumes being supplemental.
The term “plant-based diet” has differing specific meanings for different people. At one end there are those who believe that a plant-based diet means the total exclusion of animal products, this is veganism and the followers of the Plant Strong Movement. A plant-strong lifestyle does not include any meat or dairy. Plant-strong is the term used by Rip Esselstyn and the followers of the “Engine 2 Diet” and Rip Esselstyn apparently coined the phrase “Plant-Strong.” A person following a Plant-Strong diet doesn’t eat fake meat or cheese substitutes, or oils, only whole unprocessed foods. The same is true for a person following the Whole Food Plant-Based diet.
Although it doesn’t include any meat, dairy, or eggs it is different from a vegan diet, which is defined only by what it eliminates. A WFPB diet is defined also by what it emphasizes: a large variety of whole foods.
Foods that are included in the WFPB diet: whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes (as much as you want). It also includes, in moderation: nuts, seeds, avocados, natural sweeteners, and certain soy or wheat products that don’t contain added fat (e.g., tofu, seitan).
Foods that are not included in a WFPB diet because they are heavily processed: white rice, white flour, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners, and foods containing added fat. Yes, even olive oil.
You are probably thinking, “What kinds of meals can you make on a plant-based diet?” There are many good recipes for this way of eating on the Web. I’ve included references below to websites where you can find recipes, meal plans and nutritional information. Don’t worry, you will not starve eating meals like these.
Some Ideas for Plant-based meals:
- Vegan chili –
- Vegan Enchiladas
- Beans and rice
- Garden Salads
- Falafel Bowl
- Vegetable Paella
- Mushroom Stroganoff
- Grilled Zucchini and Bread Salad
- Homemade Hummus and vegetables
- Creamy Cauliflower Soup
That is it, that is all there is to eating a healthy diet.
Prescription to live a long healthy life
From the creators of the groundbreaking documentary comes the New York Times bestselling diet plan Sanjay Gupta called “the prescription you need to live a long, healthy life”—a plan to transition to a delicious whole-foods, plant-based diet in just twenty-eight days. The trailblazing film Forks Over Knives helped spark a medical and nutritional revolution. Backed by scientific research, the film’s doctors and expert researchers made a radical but convincing case that modern diseases can be prevented and often reversed by leaving meat, dairy, and highly refined foods off the plate and adopting a whole-food, plant-based diet instead.
Now, The Forks Over Knives Plan shows you how to put this lifesaving, delicious diet into practice in your own life. Whether you’re already a convert and just want a dietary reboot, or you’re trying a plant-based diet for the first time The Forks Over Knives Plan makes it easier than ever to transition to this healthiest way of eating…and to maintain it for life.
Start Your Journey to Health
Join the Physicians Committee’s 21-Day Vegan Kickstart to receive meal plans, recipes, and advice from nutrition experts. This service is free and will help you take control of your health with a vegan diet
The 21-Day Vegan Kick start is supported by decades of research showing that a plant-based diet can help you reach a healthy weight and lower your risk for heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases. Our low-fat plant-based recipes, developed by chefs, dietitians, and experts in vegan cuisine, provide nutritious meals that are both healthy and delicious. Within 21 days you will start to see results and won’t look back! via – 21-Day Vegan Kickstart
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