Foods To Eat and Foods To Avoid on a Plant-Based Diet

With any nutritional lifestyle, there are foods we consume in vast quantities, and foods we avoid. Even if you’re not following a designed eating plan, your diet likely consists of large quantities of foods you enjoy, and you avoid foods you generally dislike.

A Whole-Foods Plant-Based Diet is no different than most except in one respect. Unlike the Vegetarian, Vegan, Pescatarian, or Mediterranean diet, the Whole-Foods Plant-Based diet isn’t a diet in and of itself, nor is it defined by what it excludes but rather what it includes or brings back in.

Basically, if you’re a vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or following one of many other diets like the Mediterranean or Ketogenic lifestyle, you the WFPB approach can be incorporated into whatever you’re doing now.

What you should avoid:

The list of foods to include and eat plenty of is much longer than the list of foods you should avoid so we’ll start with the hard stuff first.

Basically, anything processed.

This really can be that simple. Canned vegetables are great, but try to avoid the frozen food aisle where vegetables are cooked into those delicious Chicken Pot Pies or various lasagnas.

While potatoes are an amazing starch, and everybody in their right minds loves them, McDonald’s French fries are a no-go. They may be potatoes, but they’re cut, frozen, processed, and then fried in trans-fat oils. In general, avoid fast-food all together in terms of French-fries, large chain cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and chicken nuggets made of processed meats.

Fast-food restaurants like Chik-fil-A can serve as a rare exception if you’re really craving something, but try to at least stick to the side salad and nuggets. Steering clear of refined grains means avoiding white flour and, unfortunately, even the Chik-fil-a bun.

While we’re at it, refined grains like white rice, white pasta, and bagels along with the white bread of buns and Wonder should be avoided. These aren’t all that healthy, and most of the nutritional value has been removed to make them more visually appealing and sweeter tasting.

Added sugars should always be avoided. These pop-up in large quantities in soda, juices, pastries, cookies, sweet tea, cereals, candy, and the like. Packaged food like chips, crackers, and frozen dinners are not prepared for health. They’re made for convenience. Unfortunately, convenience means a lot of preservatives, extra salt, and unhealthy fats packed into food that has little to offer nutritionally.

For you vegans out there, this one is for you. Your processed Tofurkey’s, faux cheeses, and vegan butter may taste great, but remember, meatless does not mean healthy. It just means meat-free. These foods are cram-packed with preservatives, they’re highly processed, and the end result is so far from what it was that there is nothing left of the original food to be recognized.

Foods to Eat

Basically, on a WFPB diet, you want to eat anything and everything in its whole form. Raw food diets take this to the extreme, but many others easily incorporate them as well.

Fruits like berries, oranges, banana’s, apples, honeydew melons are amazing, and if you’re one of us who have a sweet tooth, this is where you’ll find your natural sugar so you don’t have to go looking for added sugars.

Vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots are amazing and versatile.

Of course, we can’t go any further without mentioning tomatoes which are technically fruits. You can also eat leafy greens like kale and spinach which have proven to be key players in why WFPB diets are amazingly heart-healthy and help fight against certain cancers. Starchy vegetables like potatoes in all their forms and squash are also great.

When you reach for grains, reach for whole grains like brown rice and rolled oats over unrefined grains. All diets require some amount of fats, though many of us like to minimize it. Since we need such a little amount of this macro, it might as well be delicious and worth the extra calories. So, when you reach for fats, look for avocadoes, olive oil, coconut oil, and unsweetened shaved coconut.

Any WFPB diet should always include legumes, and nuts like almonds, cashews, and pumpkin seeds. You can also go for natural peanut butter, almond butter, or tahini if you like. Of course, spices and herbs are all in, and when you look for condiments try out homemade salsas instead of processed store-bought for your eggs, mustard instead of mayo, nutritional yeast on your popcorn instead of extra or added butter, soy sauce, vinegar, and lemon juice.

Eat, but limit

Plant based proteins like tofu and tempeh are also great for those of you who don’t experience the digestive issues that come with eating too much soy.

There are many foods you can have but should limit. These start with tofu and soy-based products because while these are great for some, not all of us can handle the amped-up production of estrogen. Also, eggs, poultry, beef, pork, wild caught seafood, and organic dairy are all great but should still be held to a high standard of quality while you limit intake quantity.