One of my early introductions to whole foods plant-based (WFPB) eating was through a documentary on Netflix entitled Forks and Knives. The film, created by Brian Wendell and first released in 2011, explores the premise of food as medicine and suggests that by changing our nutrition, it can be a powerful way to live longer, help the environment, and reduce the risk of getting sick.
The documentary follows the personal journeys of Dr. T. Colin Campbell, a nutritional biochemist from Cornell University, and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, a former top surgeon at the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic.
Dr. Campbell at the T. Colin Campbell Centre for Nutrition describes WFPB eating as eliminating the “diet” label and thinking of it more as a “lifestyle” choice. He further suggests that is not about eating restrictive and complicated meal plans, deprivation, binging and guilt but simply a “return to whole foods, rich flavors, and natural health.”
What can I eat?
In a nutshell: whole (minimally processed), unrefined, plant-based foods:
- Tubers and starchy vegetables
- Whole grains
- Omega 3 rich seeds
- whole nuts
- seeds (except omega 3 sources)
- coconut and avocado
- dried fruit
- natural sweeteners
- tempeh and tofu
- whole grain flours and breads
- plant-based milks
Avoid or Minimize:
- meat, poultry and seafood
- dairy products
- refined sweeteners
- refined grains
- refined sugars
- bleached flours and white bread, pasta and rice
What are the benefits?
The proposed benefits of this type of WFPB lifestyle can be significant and may include:
- Weight management: reduces need to count calories since plant based foods tend to contain mostly fiber and water creating a feeling of fullness while consuming few calories
- Disease prevention: may lower the risk of some cancers and prevent, halt, or even reverse chronic diseases, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes
- Lighter environmental footprint: reduces stress on the environment
Will I need Supplements?
The main essential nutrient missing from a WFPB diet is B12. Although this can be found in some fortified foods such as plant-based milks, the best source is a B12 supplement.
What is the difference between a WFPB Diet and a Vegan Diet?
The main difference between a WFPB and a vegan diet is that a vegan diet avoids all forms of animal products or exploitation, however, it is not necessarily a diet that focuses on whole plant foods. It may include refined and processed foods whereas WFPB eliminates or minimizes these as well as animal products.
How do I get Started?
If contemplating a WFPB lifestyle, check out Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s Three-Day Meal Plan for some ideas on what your meals might look like!
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