What is a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet (WFPB)?

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This is a great resource for anyone searching for information on a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet (WFPB). It has a lot of free downloads and resources: fact sheets on different health subjects from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, TEDx talk from Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn on heart disease, and TEDx talk from Dr. Neal Barnard on preventing and reversing type 2 diabetes. A great resource to share.

Power Plate

What foods can you eat on a whole food plant-based diet?

A whole-food plant-based (WFPB) diet is similar to a vegan diet in that both ways of eating avoid meat, dairy, and eggs. However, WFPB takes it to a further level of eating closer to the plant.

Eating plant-based, whole foods means fueling your body from the following food groups.

Health food concept for a high fiber diet with fruit, vegetables, cereals, whole wheat pasta, grains, legumes and herbs. Foods high in anthocyanins, antioxidants, smart carbohydrates and vitamins on marble background top view.

WHOLE GRAINS – This group includes brown rice, millet, oats, barley, corn, bulgur, and all products made from whole grains including bread, cereals, pasta, and more. Whole grains are filling but have very little fat. In countries where whole grains are staples, such as rural Asia, diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers, are much less common than in the States and Europe.

LEGUMES – This group includes beans, peas, and lentils. They are hearty, high protein foods that are rich in calcium, iron, cholesterol-lowering soluble fiber, and even traces of omega 3 fatty acids.

VEGETABLES – These foods are loaded with vitamins and minerals, are very low in fat, and like all plant foods, have no cholesterol at all.

FRUIT – These are vitamin-rich and have no cholesterol. They do have natural sugar but are low on the glycemic index, except for watermelon and pineapple.

Recommended foods do NOT include meat, dairy products, eggs, added oils, or most processed foods.

udon noodle stir fry in bright blue plate with chopsticks on side

WFPB is eating closer to the plant

The term whole in WFPB describes foods that are minimally processed. This includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes, and it also includes, in moderation nuts, seeds, avocados, natural sweeteners, and certain soy or wheat products that don’t contain added fat such as tofu and tempeh.

This also means avoiding heavily processed foods that contain added sugars or artificial sweeteners. Also to be avoided are highly refined grains such as white bread that have been stripped of most nutritional value.

Oil–even olive oil–is also avoided due to being highly processed and basically liquid fat that is about 13% artery-clogging saturated fat.

Myths about WFPB

  • There is no protein in plants
  • Plants lack calcium
  • WFPB means fat-free
  • It’s too expensive
  • It’s depriving

Myths dispelled

  • There is plenty of protein in plants and a WFPB diet meets the RDA. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for protein was established in the early 1940s and has been officially sanctioned ever since. For more information read How Much Protein is Too Much?
  • Plants have lots of calcium. Fracture rates are highest in countries that consume the most dairy and calcium. Countries that consume little or no milk, dairy or calcium supplements have 50% to 70% lower fracture rates. For more on calcium read How to Increase Bone Density Naturally.
  • Plants are not fat-free. The body requires a certain amount of fat to function properly, and plants provide all that is needed.
  • Eating a whole food plant-based diet is actually very affordable. Read Plant-Based Diet on a Budget.
  • A WFPB diet is far from depriving. There are so many foods to eat including healthy nachos, lasagna, chili, soups, stews, and even desserts. Check out some fabulous recipes in our Recipe Index.
kale salad with quinoa and orange slices in white bowl

Helpful Articles & Resources

For those of you new to the whole food plant-based lifestyle, we’ve created a FREE 7-Day Plant-Based Menu Planner to help you get started!

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.

I highly suggest watching the documentary Forks Over Knives from Netflix or Amazon to understand scientific research and studies supporting this way of eating, as well as checking out these other recommended resources.

For reading, The China Study, by Dr. Colin Campbell, is at the top of the recommended list.

Check out this site for more information visit Forks Over Knives article, What is a Whole Food Plant-Based Diet.

This book is an excellent resource for those interested in cancer prevention and survival. It contains vital information about the research behind diet and disease– cancer in particular. The last section is full of great recipes. This is the book we use in Food for Life classes.

The Cancer Survivors Guide Book


from Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine:

Kaiser Permanente in Support of WFPB Nutrition

In 2017, Kaiser Permanente, the largest healthcare organization, came out in support of whole food plant-based nutrition with their Healthy Living: Eat Healthy Live Better program.

“As I see skyrocketing incidences of conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, I am profoundly aware that there is so much potential for preventing or even reversing most of these problems through very inexpensive lifestyle changes centered on proper nutrition.” — Carmelo Mejia, MD, Internal Medicine, Kaiser Permanente

This is a list of Recommended Resources: Books, DVDs, and More.


About Terri Edwards

Hi guys! I am the content creator behind EatPlant-Based and a licensed Food for Life instructor with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. I am passionate about sharing healthy recipes and tips to empower others to get healthy.  I’m so glad you’re here! Read More…

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Vegan Plant Based Starter Kit
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