Should you decide to start eating Whole Food Plant-Based (WFPB), good for you. You’ll be glad you did. Let me share our experience with you, hoping it helps the transition. And it is a transition. We don’t realize how invested we are in feeding ourselves until we challenge the paradigm of the Standard American Diet (SAD).
EDITOR’S NOTE: SEE PART 1 BELOW⤵︎
First a qualification. We don’t call ourselves Vegans. It’s commendable that vegans focus on animal cruelty—an important consideration for us as well—but we adopted the WFPB meal plan primarily for our health. Another difference is that vegans eat oil, and we don’t. Oils are fat, with no nutritional value, so we avoid them, even those considered ‘healthy’ like canola, olive, or coconut oil.
Adopting WFPB meals means spending more time in the kitchen. It makes us think about our food, which is not something we do a lot of as consumers of the SAD. Fast food thrives partly because there’s no discernment involved in its consumption. We’ve also learned to read food labels better. Our rough metric is that any food with more than five ingredients is over-processed, so we don’t eat it. And it’s not easy finding foods with fewer than 5 additives, believe me.
One of the biggest factors in adopting and sticking to WFPB meals is the preparation time involved.
If you work full time, have kids at home, or have other time constraints, it’s still possible to do the WFPB meal plan, but it demands hours you may not have. Also, if your partner doesn’t share your commitment to it, it will be doubly difficult, and perhaps impossible. It’s still worth trying, however, because teaching kids these nutrition lessons would be worthwhile all by itself.
First, as a resource, we recommend Forks Over Knives. FOK explains why the WFPB meal plan not only makes sense but why the SAD, especially the animal protein part, is unsustainable and damages the environment. Other excellent resources are Plantstrong, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn’s Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease. Both of these sites offer cookbooks with gorgeous, healthy, extremely tasty WFPB recipes. Forks Over Knives also offers a cooking class that explains many of the preparation tasks.
Another great source for WFPB information is Nutrition Facts. Dr. Michael Greger’s amazing resource has everything needed for the serious WFPB meal plan. Greger also issues regular videos that cite robust research, and explain in lay terms why this meal plan works, with sound data backing it all up. One of the items we use from Greger’s site is the ‘Daily Dozen’ nutrition planner app, which allows us to track our daily intake of needed nutrients on our smartphones.
Books to read are, ‘Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease’ by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, ‘The China Study’ by T. Colin Campbell, and Thomas M. Campbell, and anything by food author Mark Bittman.
Documentaries include Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy, Seaspiracy, Game Changers, What the Health, Eating Animals, and for personal testimonials, a film titled Vegan Everyday Stories.
For preparation tools, first, we recommend the Vitamix blender. I use a brand name here because we couldn’t get by without our Vitamix. The NutriBullet is okay, but it lacks the power needed for many things we grind and puree. Next, an Instant Pot, or a similar pressure cooker, again to save time. Acquire a set of measuring bowls & canisters and high-quality knives. Buy a good spice rack with at least 30 jars. Look for a place to buy grains, rice, beans, and spices in bulk, and fill the spice jars from that. (A side note on a somewhat delicate social issue: Stock up on Beano, or GasX, you’ll need it 😉
Acquire basic cooking items such as measuring spoons, measuring cups, baking & frying pans, and baking pots, etc. You’ll need self-stick labels to date things. Since WFPB foods may not contain preservatives, they won’t last as long as you’re used to. It’s important to date things so you know when you fixed them. Hint: It will be tempting to fix quantities of special meals ahead. We don’t recommend doing this. Freezing detracts from the taste, and if unfrozen, the excess may spoil. Last, an air fryer will allow you to make french fries, and sweet-potato fries without oil, and to fry other foods you’d ordinarily pan fry.
Cashew cream is our go-to as a base. We spread it on toast like butter, mix it with fruits to make jelly, and top cereal with it for part of our daily protein consumption. We mix cashew cream with water in the blender to make our own milk, and we also use it as a substitute for mayonnaise. We use cashew cream for salad dressings and toppings as well. We also use cashew cream as a base for non-dairy Baileys. (Can’t tell the difference).
Speaking of booze, there’s no ban on alcohol in the WFPB meal plan. Wine, beer, liquors, you name it, they’re all from plants! The only restriction is that studies show an increased susceptibility to some cancers from overconsumption of alcohol.
We save vegetable ends, leaves, and roots to make stock, and we save the fluid from cooking garbanzo beans to make aquafaba, a useful substitute for eggs. We make our cheese using a yummy potato & carrot, nutritional yeast, mustard, garlic powder, and turmeric recipe.
Since we don’t use oil, we pan-fry food in applesauce or vegetable stock, or a combination of them. Things fry up just fine, there’s no cholesterol, and cleanup is easier. We make our own seitan, referred to as ‘wheat-meat,’ a gluten-based meat substitute. Obviously, if you’re gluten intolerant, then no seitan for you. We make our ‘bacon’ and ‘pepperoni’ from seitan. Another meat substitute is tempeh, a soy product that comes in various flavors. We buy plain tempeh, then marinate it in a spicy tamari & mustard sauce to make delicious ‘bacon’ strips. One of our favorite meals is pizza using fresh veggies and this tempeh ‘facon.’
Here’s a list of animal protein substitutes:
- Jackfruit: Use especially for shredded meat.
- Tofu: Can be baked, cooked, marinated, or fried.
- Tempeh: Very versatile with lots of flavors.
- Lentils: We make a yummy lentil-based meatloaf.
- Beans: For protein, and with rice as a base for ‘burgers’ etc.
- Peanut Butter: A common protein source.
- Nuts: Meat sub and protein source, but high in fat.
- AquaFaba: For eggs. (3 Tbsp AF=1 egg)
- Applesauce for oil.
- Hearts of Palm: For seafood.
- Hearts of Artichoke: Also for seafood.
- Cauliflower: For chicken dishes (no fooling).
- Courgette: (A kind of summer squash) for pasta.
- Frozen bananas: For n’ice cream.*
If you think you’ll miss certain foods such as meat, fish, dairy, eggs, cheese, etc., worry not. We’ve eaten exclusively WFPB for two years, and we don’t miss a thing. Quite the opposite. We’ve discovered so many amazing, tasty, gorgeous recipes, and wonderful new taste sensations that we’d never consider going back to the SAD.
Just a few of the fine meals we’ve found are lentil loaf, un-tuna, chickpea ‘crab’ cakes, Italian dressing, Pizza, cheese sauce, cauliflower-based chicken nuggets, several stir-fried meals, red cabbage steaks, shepherd’s pie, veggie-burgers, and *n’ice cream for dessert. We also make a seed blend of pumpkin, sesame, and sunflower seeds with spices, for a wonderful sprinkled salad topping. Our granddaughter calls it ‘bird food.’
*For n’ice cream, take frozen bananas, add whatever fruits/flavor(s) you wish, put it in the Vitamix, and grind away till it’s creamy. It’s close enough to ice cream you may not tell the difference.
We know you’ll enjoy eating WFPB. In addition to new, amazingly tasty meals, you’ll have the added satisfaction of knowing you’re eating healthy, while helping, in a very small way, to heal the planet, and to eliminate the use of animals for human consumption. If you have any questions or want clarification, don’t hesitate to contact us. We don’t preach about it, but we enjoy helping others adopt the WFPB meal plan. Good luck!