Whole-Food Plant-Based Diets are Not Just for Vegans and Vegetarians… WHAT???
Okay, so you realize that eating a Whole-Food Plant-Based (WFPB) diet is a healthier lifestyle choice, BUT you aren’t a Vegan or a Vegetarian. Many believe that you must be a Vegan or a Vegetarian in order to follow a WFPB diet.
That is a misconception and nothing can be further from the truth. The good news is, you don’t have to become a Vegan or a Vegetarian to follow a WFPB diet. Please don’t let the name fool you… a Whole-Food Plant-Based diet does not mean you can’t have meat or fish. (To my Vegan and Vegetarian friends, please bear with me.)
Let’s break down the Whole-Food Plant-Based Diet to see what it IS and what it IS NOT.
Unlike other diets, WFPB diets and other nutritional patterns are fashioned around what they CAN INCLUDE rather than what they MUST EXCLUDE.
Vegans, for example, exclude meat and animal by-products from their diets. The Atkins diet controls insulin production in the body by lowering carbohydrates.
WFPB diets are marked by what they include which are plant based and whole foods. This implies that plant-based foods are preferable, and perhaps should be the main source of your diet, however, whole foods are the other part of that.
Fresh caught Salmon is a whole, nutrient dense food. Rather than focusing on the implication that you must exclude meat on a WFPB diet, take a look at what you CAN include and decide for yourself.
Pescatarianism, Vegetarianism, the Mediterranean diet, and even the Ketogenic Lifestyle are all WFPB diets when done right. Now, Vegan and Vegetarian friends, stay with me. Just to clear something up for those who WANT to eat a mainly plant-based whole-food diet but can’t fathom never again eating a lean protein or a serving of salmon.
Not all Vegetarian, Mediterranean, Pescatarian, and Ketogenic eating patterns are necessarily WFPB either. After all, soda and bags of deep-fried potato chips carry that vegetarian or vegan stamp. But, these highly processed foods also contain preservatives, additives, and added SIMPLE sugars (aka simple carbohydrates). We explain this in more detail below.
The Point of a Whole-Food Plant-Based Diet
The point of a WFPB diet isn’t to avoid meat. Remember, this isn’t one of those exclusionary diets. The best place to start is to fill your already existing eating pattern with whole, nutrient dense, and plant-based foods. Also, healthy eating is a sign of self-care! Isn’t it about time you took care of YOU?!
Apples are whole foods, they’re nutrient dense, and they’re plant based. However, chicken breasts are whole nutrient dense foods. With a WFPB diet, you’re not just looking to eat ONLY foods that are whole foods AND plant-based.
The concept behind the WFPB diet is to add healthier and more nutritious foods to your diet. Yes, the words run together to imply a plant-based diet of whole foods, when, in-fact, you’re looking for whole foods and plant-based foods. If a food item meets both qualifiers, then that’s a bigger win!
One of the major myths running around about WFPB diets is that they’re carb heavy, thus not healthy. They are carb heavy, that is true. But, this is okay because carbohydrates, especially complex carbohydrates, aren’t necessarily the enemy. The thing you want to avoid are the foods laden with simple carbohydrates like soda and candy which cause your blood sugar to spike up and down. Complex carbohydrates are usually a better choice because it takes your body a longer time to break them down.
This is the sort of thing that gives carbohydrates a bad name, but the fact is that your body needs carbs to burn as glucose (which is energy). There’s nothing wrong with complex carbs.
Now with that said, a Ketogenic Lifestyle can be designed around a WFPB option. Most usually are. It’s just that these folks need to burn ketones rather than glucose, or want to, for whatever reason. There are plenty of plant-based options for dietary fat, such as avocados and olives that meet the Whole-Food requirement.
The bottom line is that WFPB diets aren’t about which fuel you burn, or whether you eat meat or not. The WFPB diet is about including as many types of these foods into your current diet as possible, so that you can eat nutritious, nutrient dense, whole, and plant-based foods rather than the highly processed foods most of us reach for. T.V. dinners, candy bars, and other processed foods contain way too many things we don’t need or want and do not contribute to our healthy lifestyle.
They taste great because they’re designed to, but that doesn’t mean they’re good for you!
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