What Vegans Eat on a Whole Foods Plant Based Diet
Wondering What Vegans Eat to Stay Healthy?
When you consider eliminating animal products, you may wonder what vegans eat after removing all the meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and junk foods. Believe me, there is still plenty that you can eat.
(Scroll down to bottom of this page to find out what to avoid!)
For starters you will want to include:
- raw and cooked vegetables
- raw fruits
- cooked whole beans or their sprouts
- cooked whole grains or their sprouts
- raw nuts and seeds will make up a small part of your ideal diet
- a few important nutritional supplements and superfoods like Vitamin B-12, Omega 3 fatty acids, Hawaiian spirulina
That may sound boring, but there are thousands of ways to prepare these foods to make them interesting and delicious. Look to international dishes for inspiration: Ethiopian lentil dishes with injera, Mexican bean and rice dishes, Italian pasta dishes, Middle Eastern chickpea dishes, Chinese or Thai grain and vegetable dishes. The possibilities are endless.
Making the Switch
I recommend making gradual changes if you have been on a diet heavy in animal products. The sudden elimination of all animal products, can upset the balance of your gut bacteria. I know, because I triggered decades of allergies by suddenly going raw and vegan as a teenager after eating the standard American diet all my life. It usually takes at least two weeks for your gut bacteria to adjust to a radically new diet.
Start by cutting animal products out of two meals a day. Then work up to one, two, or three days a week with no animal products. As you increase plant foods, your gut bacteria will gradually adapt to your new diet. It can also be very helpful to take a probiotic supplement. I like to cycle through different brands to get a variety of good bacteria.
Dr. Greger has a handy daily dozen checklist that covers the basics he recommends every day for optimal health. It will give you a general idea of how much of each type of food to include.
Note: Keep in mind that Dr. Greger is an average-sized man, even on the tall side, I suspect. You may only need half these amounts if you are a 100 lb. woman. Just try to keep similar proportions. Never force yourself to eat, just so you can meet the daily recommendations.
What Vegans Eat Based on Science – A Healthy Plant-Based Diet According to Dr. Greger
I have added notes based on Anthony William’s advice (AW), and other helpful information I have gathered over the years.
- fruit – 3 cups fresh or frozen fruits – plus 1/2 cup fresh or frozen berries [wild Main blueberries are best – AW].
- vegetables – 1 cup assorted starchy or non-starchy vegetables
- plus 2 cups raw leafy greens
- plus 1/2 cup cruciferous vegetable (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, etc.).
- [Eat vegetables with a small amount of fat (nuts, seeds, avocado, dressings made from nut or seed butters) and something acidic (lemon, lime, apple cider vinegar) for best absorption of minerals.]
- beans/peas/lentils – 1 1/2 cups cooked whole beans, or 3/4 cup bean dip/humus, or 3 cups fresh or frozen peas. Soak dry beans overnight and drain before cooking with fresh water if you are concerned about mineral deficiencies. [Avoid all soy products – AW]
- whole grains – 1 1/2 cups (or equivalent in whole grain pasta, bread, etc.) quinoa, millet, gluten free oatmeal, rice, amaranth, or teff. Soak dry grains overnight and drain before cooking with fresh water if you are concerned about mineral deficiencies. [Avoid corn, buckwheat, wheat, and gluten – AW]
- nuts – 1/4 cup raw nuts, assorted, or 2 Tbs. raw nut butter (not including coconut, peanut, or chestnut). [If you have mineral deficiencies, soaking overnight will help remove the phytates that can block mineral absorption.]
- flax seeds – 1 Tb. freshly ground flax seeds (can be baked in crackers, cookies, muffins, pancakes, etc.). [Hemp seeds and chia seeds are also an excellent addition to supply Omega 3 fatty acids.]
- turmeric – 1/4 tsp. turmeric [Best absorbed when cooked with a little oil and a pinch of black pepper.]
I would also include:
- herbs and spices – 1/4 tsp. or more assorted herbs and spices.
- Main coast seaweeds – 1-2 Tbs. flaked dulse (AW).
- fermented foods – sauerkraut, coconut kefir, and nut milk kefir, apple cider vinegar, chick pea miso (these may help support mineral absorption when eaten with other foods).
- sprouts – especially broccoli sprouts [avoid alfalfa sprouts, because they tend to grow mold, and a lot of alfalfa is now GMO]. Sprouts are an amazingly nutritious addition to any diet especially if you cannot eat nuts, seeds, or certain grains.
- raw foods – provide vitamin-C and important enzymes
Water – The general rule is 1/2 oz. water per pound of body weight per day. For example, a 128 lb. person would need 64 oz. pure water (ideally, with a little lemon or lime juice squeezed in – AW) – more if you are active, if the weather is hot, and/or if you weigh more.
For a great talk on hydration listen to Anthony William, The Medical Medium here – https://soundcloud.com/medicalmedium/chronic-dehydration – He takes a while to get to the point, but the information is excellent.
Go to Plant-Based Nutrition for more specifics on what vegans eat to get enough of each vitamin, mineral, and macro-nutrient.
Here’s a pretty good nuts-and-bolts article about making the switch to a healthy plant based whole foods diet (she throws in a few “f-bombs” so be warned). Also, she includes soy, but I recommend avoiding it, because it is pretty much all contaminated with GMOs now – https://cleanfooddirtygirl.com/the-mother-of-all-whole-food-plant-based-resources-for-plant-based-newbies/
GREEN MEANS GO for It!
Eat fresh, whole, ideally organic –
- leafy greens
- beans, peas, lentils – cooked
- gluten-free grains – quinoa, millet, amaranth, teff, gf oats – cooked
- mushrooms – cooked
- raw fermented foods
- herbs & spices
Eat as much of these as often as you like, and try to have something raw at every meal.
YELLOW MEANS MODERATION (But Good for You!)
All ground, pureed, blended, pulverized, dried, juiced, or otherwise processed foods, as well as high fat and high sugar foods – i.e. whole grain flours, breads, pastas, avocados, tree nuts and nut butters, peanuts and peanut butter, seeds and seed butters, juices, sauces, bean dips, nut and seed milks, nut and seed cheeses, raw honey, date sugar, should all be consumed in moderation. Rice consumption should also be limited, because of the high levels of arsenic (California rice, especially short grain, has the least arsenic).
There is nothing wrong with any of these foods. They are all nutritious foods, but it is easy to overeat foods that we don’t have to chew much. Plus they won’t have a chance to thoroughly mix with the digestive enzymes in the mouth if you don’t chew them. They can also cause blood sugar spikes, because they are digested so quickly. Strictly limit these foods if you want to lose weight, or you have any health issues, especially diabetes or pre-diabetes.
Dried foods are fine in moderation, but most people are already chronically dehydrated. Removing the water from our foods will only add to that problem. So be sure to drink plenty of pure water with a squeeze of lemon or lime to rehydrate your cells. I recommend soaking dried fruits before eating. You can drink the soak water, or add it to smoothies or dessert dishes.
Fats Are in the Yellow Zone
Even vegan fats can contribute to diabetes, high cholesterol, and other health problems when over consumed. We need good fats, but it is easy to overindulge. If you find that you are gaining weight, cut back on fatty foods!
Nuts, seeds, and avocados are great, but limit your intake if you want to stay as healthy as possible.
Juicing can be wonderful in cases of malnutrition, dehydration, or in a cleansing fast, but most of the time, foods are best eaten whole. Anthony William, the Medical Medium, recommends drinking 16 oz. fresh celery juice on an empty stomach every morning to heal the digestive system, and he often recommends combining cucumber and other fruits and veggies to make hydrating drinks.
Just remember that juice doesn’t have the important fiber content that is partly responsible for keeping us healthy.
RED MEANS STOP
All fractured foods should be avoided if you want to maintain, or regain optimal health – i.e. refined grains, white flour products, white rice, white sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, molasses, salt, protein powders not made from whole foods, oils, caffeine, nutritional yeast (contains MSG), cooked honey.
Animal products – meat, fish, eggs, dairy products – have been clearly implicated in heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases. Avoid gluten if you have any health or digestive issues, because it is very difficult to digest.
You can get away with eating some of these foods occasionally if you are in perfect health, but making it a habit will eventually undermine your health.
BLACK MEANS DEATH
Avoid all products containing preservatives, pesticides, herbicides, artificial flavors, artificial colors, artificial sweeteners, natural flavors, citric acid, MSG, GMOs (including soy, soy oil, corn meal, corn oil, canola oil, beet sugar, small papayas, some summer squashes, arctic apple, innate potato), chlorine, fluoride, yeast extract, alcohol, hydrogenated fats (AKA trans fats), and any other “foods” that do not not grow naturally from the ground.
Also look for names of ingredients that may be derived from animal sources: casein, glycerides (mono, di, and triglycerides), capric acid, decanoic acid, sodium stearoyl lactylate, stearicacid, octadecenoic acid, calcium stearate, palmatic acid, glucose, dextrose, myristic acid, tetradecanoic acid, sodium stearoyl lactylate, oleic acid, oleinic acid, L-cysteine, and lecithin (unless organic sunflower).