The best trends mostly come from America. So are the worst. But this is a good trend: the whole food plant-based diet. Maybe you’ve heard of it before, maybe not. Anyway, this diet style has existed for a few decades.
The special thing about this form of diet is that it is very rich in complex carbohydrates on the one hand and very low in fat on the other. The fat content is only 10% to 15% of the total calories. For comparison: we obtain on average 30-35% of our calories from fat.
Concentrated fats such as oil and margarine are not part of this complete vegetable diet. Nuts and seeds are eaten in moderation. I already described the advantages of a fiber-rich, fat-poor nutrition in my Blogposts why we need coal hydrates and why you should delete oil from your shopping list.
The Whole Food Plant-based Diet is not a diet, although it can help you easily lose weight. It is a lifestyle. And it is a diet that can be maintained for a lifetime without starvation.
It does not pose any health risks, it makes you healthy. It is able to heal us from the typical diet-related diseases of civilization such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure or fat metabolism disorders.
The history of Whole Food Plant-based Diet
The term “whole food plant-based diet” was coined in the 80’s by the scientific T.C. Campbell. Campbell has spent decades of his career comparing dietary habits and the health status of different populations.
You can read all this in his book China Study. T.C. Campbell has found that our health is directly related to our diet. The more vegetable, unprocessed foods are on the diet, the fewer chronic illnesses occur.
Campbell’s cancer research is also legendary. He has discovered that liver cancer cells do not continue to grow in animal experiments if the proportion of animal protein in the diet is less than 5%. In his experiments, animal protein acts like a switch – if it is flipped, cancer cells grow. If it is switched off, they stop growing. If you’re interested in Dr. Campbell’s research, check out the book recommendations below.
Other pioneers of Whole food plant-based diet include Dr. Esselstyn, who helps consecrated heart patients to a new life with an extremely low-fat vegetable diet.
Dr. John McDougall is also a supporter of a carbohydrate-rich diet, and is famous for his Starch Solution diet. Dr. Neal Barnard is a luminary in the field of nutritional therapy for diabetes mellitus. No matter in which field these different doctors are specialized, they all have proven with decades of research that most chronic diseases are curable with a full-fledged, herbal diet.
What are wholesome plant foods?
The emphasis in this form of nutrition is on “wholesome” and “vegetable”. Whole food plant-based diet’ followers avoid animal products for health reasons. However, they do not get into an ethical conflict if they eat something that is not 100% plant-based for whatever reason. However, animal products are generally not part of the diet.
A food is considered wholesome if it has been processed as little as possible (or not at all) or only as much as is necessary to make it edible. I would like to illustrate this with a few examples.
Coconut vs. coconut oil
The coconut is a wholesome, vegetable food. You can eat it freshly picked from the tree, all you need is the right tool. Coconut water, fresh coconut meat, coconut, coconut milk and dried coconut flakes are whole foods.
But what about coconut oil? To obtain coconut oil, the coconut meat is generally heated or dried (or both) and then pressed. What remains is coconut flour or coconut milk and oil. Coconut oil is an extracted, isolated and concentrated product and therefore does not meet the criteria of wholesomeness.
This applies to all oils – whether olive oil, sunflower oil or linseed oil. Oil is therefore not part of the Whole food plant-based diet, nor is margarine.
For these reasons I do not use oil in my kitchen. Only for frying I use one to two strokes of olive oil spray (one stroke corresponds to 2 g oil) – so that my pans last longer.
Soy bean vs. tofu
Soybeans meet the criterion for a wholesome food product. Tofu is made from soy milk. Although soy milk is also a processed product, it is not a concentrated but a diluted product. During production, soybeans are first dried, then soaked and finally expressed with water. This is relatively expensive, but we only have a liquid extract of soybeans.
A coagulant is then added to the soy milk (usually magnesium chloride, citric acid or calcium sulphate), which separates the liquid and solid components of the soy milk and results in a more or less solid soy quark.
Compared to soya beans, which do not have to be processed at all (except cooked), both soya milk and tofu require a number of processing steps before they can be consumed. But they still meet the criteria of wholesomeness because they are made from the whole product – the soya bean.
Soya bean vs. soya sausage
What about soy sausages? I once picked out a list of ingredients. The manufacturer should not be mentioned here. That doesn’t matter either, because other products have a similar composition.
Ingredients: water, rapeseed oil, soy protein, wheat protein, flavour, rice flour, salt, thickener: carageen, spices, emulsifier: methyl cellulose, citrus fibre, thickener: konjac root
The only whole thing about these sausages are the spices, everything else is extracted, isolated products. Oil is an extract; soy and wheat proteins are also isolated products that do not occur in nature.
The rice flour is very probably made from polished rice, so it is not whole. Not to mention the additives in the first place! These vegan soy sausages therefore do not fulfil the criteria of wholesomeness.
- To full-fledged vegetable food belong
- wholegrain cereals
- Nuts and seeds
- Fruit and vegetables
- Potatoes and sweet potatoes
- Spices and herbs
There are a number of foods that are slightly more processed, but can still end up on the plate from time to time as part of a wholesome herbal diet:
Can be eaten in small quantities:
- Tofu, Tempeh
- Meat substitutes from soya or wheat
- maple syrup, date syrup, raw cane sugar
- vegetable yoghurt, vegetable curd cheese, vegetable drinks
- Not on the menu:
- Meat, fish, poultry
- Seafood and shellfish
- Milk product and eggs
- Oil and margarine
- white flour, white rice, white noodles
- refined sugar
- Sweets and snacks
- Biscuits, cakes, cakes
- Fast Food & Finished Products
- sweet drinks (incl. juices)
The 1×1 of whole-food plant nutrition
At first glance you might think what I can eat at all – when so much is removed from the menu. But actually the opposite is the case. There is an unbelievably large abundance of plant foods! The moment you leave out animal products, you realize what else there is. For example, the trade offers more than ten different varieties of wholemeal rice, and all taste a little different and have a different texture.
Most always eat the same things and don’t even use the range of foods nature provides us with. Therefore, here is a small overview of wholesome, vegetable foods. This list is by far not complete!
Oats, oat flakes, oat groats, wheat grains, bulgers, buckwheat, barley, long grain natural rice, red rice, black rice, whole grain jam rice, whole grain basmati rice, whole grain round grain rice, mochi rice, whole grain semolina, millet, quinoa, amaranth, canihua, polenta, whole grain bread, crispbread, pumpernickel
Nuts & Seeds
Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nut, pecan nut, peanuts, cashew seeds, coconuts, pistachios, sesame seeds, linseed, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, poppy seeds
Kidney beans, eye beans, white beans, black beans, mung beans, quail beans, soybeans, borlotto beans, chickpeas, yellow peas, red lentils, yellow lentils, Belugalinsen, Du Puy lentils, plate lentils
Fruit & Vegetables, Potatoes
Broccoli, paprika, cauliflower, tomatoes, white cabbage, aubergine, red cabbage, zucchini, green cabbage, pumpkin, savoy cabbage, pointed cabbage, Brussels sprouts, pak choi, leek, Chinese cabbage, onions, spring onions, mushrooms, side cherries, chanterelles, porcini mushrooms, apple, pear, pineapple, banana, lemon, lime, apricot, peach, plum, cherry, apricot, nectarine, mandarin, orange, grapefruit, pomelo, grapefruit, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry, currant, gooseberry, blueberry, grapes, date, fig, pomegranate, kiwi, lychee, mango, papaya, potatoes, sweet potatoes
Spices & Herbs
Aniseed, basil, mugwort, fenugreek, curry, dill, caraway, cumin, coriander, turmeric, nutmeg, marjoram, mint, clove, ginger, laurel, oregano, paprika, parsley, pepper, peppermint, allspice, rosemary, sage, salt, mustard, star anise, tamarind, thyme, chives, vanilla, juniper, woodruff, cinnamon, lemon grass, lemon balm
Health benefits of a plant-based diet
This form of nutrition has incredible health benefits as it excludes all foods that can cause chronic diseases. The easier and more original the choice of food, the lower the risk of overeating. Overweight is the most common cause of health problems, and the whole food plant-based diet starts there.
In addition, plant foods are rich in vitamins, minerals, fibre and secondary plant compounds – all of which we need to stay or become healthy. Moreover, they are easy to prepare, you don’t need crazy ingredients or special cooking skills.
With a wholesome vegetable diet, for example, the following diseases can be prevented and cured:
- metabolic syndrome
- lipometabolic disorders
- tooth decay
- high blood pressure
- heart diseases
- Heart attack and stroke
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
- Bowel cancer, breast cancer, testicular cancer
This form of nutrition is also environmentally friendly and sustainable, as vegetable foods require only a fraction of the water and energy required for production, such as meat or dairy products. So if you want to do something for the environment as well as for your health, you can use plant-based, less processed foods.
Differentiation between the whole food plant-based diet and the vegan diet
Who feeds for vegan, renounces for ethical reasons to 100% on animal products. Many Veganer are interested also in a healthy nutrition, or decide for health reasons for a vegane nutrition. That does not mean however that each Veganer nourishes itself also healthy. Potato chips, chips, oil and margarine are also vegan. And of course there are cakes, tarts and biscuits without animal products.
Personally, I eat vegan as well as whole-food and low-fat. However, I don’t define myself as a “vegan”, and the subject of “vegan nutrition” doesn’t take up the space in my life as it does with others. The avoidance of animal suffering and environmental protection are issues that are important to me and that are an additional reason for me to avoid animal products.
But for me personally, the health aspect comes first. My family has both type 2 diabetes and cancer, and I will do everything I can to escape that fate. I want to grow old healthy and lead an independent, self-reliant, meaningful life into old age. That is my goal, and that is why I have decided in favour of a complete, vegetable diet.
Differentiation between the whole food plant-based diet and the whole food diet
The term wholefood / wholefood nutrition covers all forms of food in which unprocessed or little-processed foods are the focus of nutrition. However, these foods do not necessarily have to be plant-based – milk and dairy products, for example, are also included. Meat, fish and eggs are also on the menu in small quantities, but not sausages.
Raw food is an important component of wholefood nutrition – it is recommended to eat about half of all foods in raw form. This includes fruit, vegetables, fresh grain porridge, germinated cereals and germinated legumes. Not everyone can tolerate such large amounts of raw food. Many get massive digestive problems after the change in diet.
This can also happen when switching to the whole food plant-based diet, when a lot of raw vegetables and many pulses are eaten. It is best to listen to your gut feeling and avoid foods that cause you discomfort. Also read my blog post Is a raw vegan diet healthy through.