It is common knowledge that a diet that emphasizes on whole and fresh plant-based ingredients and cuts back on refined foods is better for our overall health and wellbeing. A whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) diet centers on plant foods with minimal processing, which retain all the vital nutrients that the body needs.

What Is a WFPB Diet?

Although styles may vary depending on the individual, there are some general principles for the whole-food, plant-based diet. 

  • The emphasis must be on minimally processed plant-based foods.
  • Animal foods are limited or completely avoided.
  • Processed foods and added sugars are a no.
  • The quality of the food is key. Organic, locally-sourced foods are the best in this regard.

With the above in mind, it’s easy to see why the whole-food, plant-based diet would be confused with the vegetarian or vegan diet. However, there are some essential differences.

Is a whole food plant-based diet the same as a vegan diet?

Although the plant-based diet and the vegan diet have a lot in common, they are not exactly the same. Both of these diets are based purely on plants, but their approaches differ. 

Animal products and by-products are completely prohibited in the vegan diet. But this doesn’t preclude a vegan from feasting on junk food like chips and sodas. There is also now a selection of fake meats for vegans to include in their diets. Although these “meats” are not animal products, most of them are packed with lots of salt, fats, and calories, quite similar to their animal-based counterparts.

On the other hand, the whole food, plant-based diet is centered on unprocessed and whole foods including vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Meanwhile, animal products like meats, dairy, and eggs are limited as much as possible, and processed foods like refined sugars, processed oils, and white flours are also avoided.

Plant-based items that have not undergone processing are the focus in the whole food, plant-based diet. So, although white bread and white rice are technically plant-based, they aren’t the best for you because they have been heavily processed and are now lacking in most of the nutrients that your body needs. Instead, they have high glycemic indexes, meaning that they spike your blood sugar level and induce hunger, which leads to overeating. 

While it is more flexible than the vegan and vegetarian diets, the remarkable benefits of the low-fat, plant-based diet are without doubt. Notably, the foods consumed in this diet boost your fiber intake because fiber only comes from plants. At the same time, you’ll be upping your consumption of vitamins and minerals, not to speak of the delicious goodness of the plant-based foods that you’ll be enjoying.

Whole food, plant-based diets have been found to be helpful in reducing blood pressure, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol which is bad for you. This, in turn, helps you maintain a healthy weight, and lowers your risk of diabetes and heart disease, while also keeping you more active.

What Does a Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet Look Like?

A wholesome plant-based diet should contain the right amounts of fruits, vegetables, healthy oils, healthy proteins, and whole grains. Vegetables should be enjoyed in their varieties. Also eat a variety of fruits of different colors, shapes, and sizes. 

Drink lots of water as well. You can have tea or coffee with little to no sugar or milk. All sugary drinks and sodas should be avoided. Brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and whole-grain pasta are whole grain foods. All processed grains must be cut out.

Beans and nuts serve as sources of plant protein, while animal proteins like fish and poultry can be moderately taken a few times a week. Red meats and cheese should be shunned. Healthy oils like canola and olive should be used in cooking and on salads. Trans fats must be completely avoided.

You may not need to go completely vegetarian to enjoy the healthy results of the low-fat, plant-based diet. All it takes is to shift your dietary focus to whole plant-based foods, eliminate your intake of unhealthy foods and moderate your consumption of animal products as much as possible.

The beauty of it is that you can begin right where you are. Start cutting back on animal foods by reducing your daily servings and replacing them with plant proteins like nuts and legumes.

Benefits of the WFPB Diet

The numerous merits of the whole food, plant-based diet include:

Weight loss 

Obesity is a growing health issue in today’s world. Thankfully, cutting back on animal products and over-processed foods like sodas, candy, chips, and other junk foods can help you maintain a healthy body weight. 

Improved health

One of the most popular benefits of a WFPB diet is that it is healthy for your heart. There has also been some research to suggest that a plant-based diet reduces the risk of certain forms of cancer, cognitive decline including Alzheimer’s) and diabetes.

Greener planet

Going for a largely plant-based diet is also better for the environment. A sustainable diet can help reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases, factory farming land, and water consumption, all of which play major roles in global warming and the deterioration of the environment. Purchasing locally produced foods also boosts the local economy.

A WFPB Food List

  • Vegetables: spinach, broccoli, carrots, peppers, tomatoes, kale, cauliflower, asparagus, etc.
  • Fruits: citrus fruits, berries, peaches, pears, bananas, apples, etc.
  • Whole grains: rolled oats, quinoa, barley, brown rice, etc.
  • Legumes: beans, peas, peanuts, lentils, etc.
  • Healthy fats: olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, coconuts, etc.
  • Plant-based milks: almond milk, cashew milk, coconut milk, etc.
  • Nuts and seeds: cashews, macadamias, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, tahini, etc.

Based on your body type, if you intend to moderately include some animal foods as well, go for organic and, if possible, local eggs, poultry, seafood, and dairy. Beef and pork should be taken with extreme moderation.


Refined foods, plant-based or not, are the main items to be avoided in the whole food, plant-based diet. Animal products should also be consumed as minimally as possible to enjoy the full benefits of a WFPB diet for any body type.