What Vegans Eat on a Whole Foods Plant Based Diet
Wondering What Vegans Eat to Stay Healthy?
First of all, when you stick to a whole foods plant based diet, you have permission to eat as much as you want. Eat plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, including potatoes, yams, dates, and other starchy veggies and sweet fruits. You need the nutrients!
You won’t have to worry about cholesterol. There is no cholesterol in a vegan diet. There is also a lot less fat, unless you overindulge in nuts, seeds, and avocado. Oils are not whole foods and should generally be avoided. Though, if you are in good health, you can occasionally include a little good quality oil, like organic coconut oil, olive oil, or avocado oil.
Making up for deficiencies
If you have been on a low carbohydrate diet, you will probably need to eat a lot of carbs for awhile to restore your glucose reserves. If you have been on a low fat diet, you may need to slightly increase healthy fats like macadamia nuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and avocados. Pay special attention to getting enough omega 3 fatty acids, while avoiding polyunsaturated fats.
Listen to your body. What whole foods does it crave? Eat those foods as much as your appetite demands. If you are used to dieting and calorie restriction, it may seem excessive at first. Yet, in a couple of weeks you will find that your appetite falls into sync with your nutritional needs.
Remember that plant foods are less dense than animal products, because they contain fiber. You will probably need to eat larger amounts. You may also need to take a good food-based multi vitamin and mineral supplement if you have been on a calorie-restricted diet, or a ketogenic diet. A high fat, low carb diet is lacking in many of the important nutrients found in fruits and starchy vegetables.
What to Eat
When you consider eliminating animal products, you may wonder what vegans eat after removing all the meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and refined junk foods. Believe me, there is still plenty to eat.
(Scroll down to bottom of this page to find out what to avoid!)
For starters you will want to include: (I have added notes based on Anthony William’s advice (AW))
- raw and cooked vegetables
- raw fruits (cooked are okay too)
- cooked whole beans or their sprouts (except soy, AW)
- cooked whole grains or their sprouts (except corn, and those containing gluten, AW)
- 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 limiting, 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 GF pasta dishes with salad or soup, Middle Eastern chickpea and fresh vegetable dishes, Chinese, Japanese, or Thai rice and vegetable dishes (skip the soy sauce, AW), Indian curried rice and dahl. The possibilities are endless.
See Vegan Pantry Staple Foods. Keep your pantry well stocked so you always have healthy choices available. Make double batches when you cook, so you can eat leftovers for lunch the next day. You can do this!
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. A diet of whole plant foods contains a lot more fiber, which is a good thing. However, it takes different gut bacteria to thrive on a high-fiber diet. Increase fiber gradually. Otherwise, you could have a lot of gas and other digestive issues.
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.
Ideal Diet Suggestions
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: These are only general guidelines. 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 for balanced nutrition. Never force yourself to eat, just so you can meet the daily recommendations. Above all, trust your body to know what it needs.
What Vegans Eat Based on Science – A Healthy Plant-Based Diet According to Dr. Greger with Notes on Medical Medium Protocol (AW)
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.] Apple cider vinegar is not recommended by Anthony William, though he allows it if you don’t have any health issues.
- 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 & grain-like seeds – 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, rye, barley, spelt, and all gluten – AW] Note: If you are dealing with health issues, particularly variations of strep, avoid all grains – 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, otherwise it’s not a problem.]
- Omega 3 source – Dr. Greger recommends 1 Tb. freshly ground flax seeds (can be baked in crackers, cookies, muffins, pancakes, etc.). You can also include hemp seeds and chia seeds. I think they taste better and are easier to digest, but they don’t have the lignans. (If you are looking for lignans, sesame seeds, i.e. tahini, are an even better source than flax.) It is probably best (as with all other foods) to rotate through a variety of different seeds. Here is a really interesting article on using different seeds to balance hormones – https://www.hormonesbalance.com/articles/how-to-use-seed-rotation-to-rebalance-your-menstrual-cycle/
- turmeric – 1/4 tsp. turmeric [Best absorbed when cooked with a little coconut oil and a pinch of black pepper.]
I would also include the Medical Medium Detox and a few other foods:
- Anthony William’s heavy metal detox ingredients (together, or separately throughout the day)
- Flaked Atlantic dulse – 1-2 Tbs. (Or an equivalent amount of dulse strips.)
- Wild Maine Blueberries – 1 – 2 cups
- Hawaiian Spirulina – 1 – 2 tsp.
- Barley grass juice powder – 1 tsp.
- Cilantro – 1 cup, packed
- Main coast seaweeds – assorted
- Herbs and spices – 1/4 tsp. or more assorted herbs and spices.
- Fermented foods – sauerkraut, coconut kefir, and nut milk kefir, cashew yogurt, apple cider vinegar, chickpea miso. They may help support mineral absorption when eaten with other foods. (These are allowed, but not recommended on the Medical Medium protocol. Avoid them if you are dealing with health issues.)
- 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. Grow your own sprouts!
- Raw foods – provide vitamin-C and important enzymes
- Essential nutritional supplements
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). Drink more if you are active, if the weather is hot, and/or if you weigh more. You can drink less if you are eating lots of raw fruits. Your urine should be light yellow.
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.
More Information on Making the Switch
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 Anthony William recommends avoiding it – https://cleanfooddirtygirl.com/the-mother-of-all-whole-food-plant-based-resources-for-plant-based-newbies/
Recipes that Fit Medical Medium Protocol – http://www.alifewellplanted.com/category/simply-delicious
GREEN MEANS GO for It!
Eat all you want of fresh, whole, ideally organic –
- leafy greens
- beans, peas, lentils – cooked
- gluten-free grains – quinoa, millet, rice, amaranth, teff, GF oats – cooked (avoid all grains if dealing with health issues, particularly strep – AW)
- mushrooms – cooked
- raw fermented foods (avoid if dealing with health issues – AW)
- herbs & spices
- plus essential nutritional supplements
Eat as much of these as often as you like, and try to have something raw at every meal.
YELLOW MEANS MODERATION (But Still 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 possibility of high levels of arsenic (organic California rice, especially short grain, is said to be safe)… though AW says it is not an issue.
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. Limit these foods if you want to lose weight, or you have any serious health issues, especially diabetes or pre-diabetes.
Dried foods are fine in moderation, but many 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 too much weight, cut back on fatty foods and include more raw fruits and vegetables.
Nuts, seeds, and avocados are great, but limit your intake if you want to give your liver a chance to cleanse itself.
Juicing can be wonderful in cases of malnutrition, dehydration, or in a cleansing fast. 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 (creates MSG in the body), cooked honey. These foods just don’t have the nutritional punch of whole foods.
Also animal products – meat, fish, eggs, dairy products – have been clearly implicated in heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases.
Avoid all gluten if you have any health, allergy, or digestive issues, because it is very difficult to digest.
If you are healthy, you can get away with eating some of these foods occasionally, but making it a regular 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).
Go to Plant-Based Nutrition for more specific information on what vegans eat to get enough of each vitamin, mineral, and macro-nutrient.
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