Whole-Foods, Plant-Based Diet: A Detailed Beginner’s Guide

Adopting a Whole-Foods, Plant-Based Diet Is Good for the Planet

Switching to a plant-based diet not only benefits your health — it can help protect the environment, as well.

People who follow plant-based diets tend to have smaller environmental footprints.

Adopting sustainable eating habits can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water consumption and land used for factory farming, which are all factors in global warming and environmental degradation.

A review of 63 studies showed that the largest environmental benefits were seen from diets containing the least amount of animal-based foods such as vegan, vegetarian and pescatarian diets.

The study reported that a 70% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and land use and 50% less water use could be achieved by shifting Western diet patterns to more sustainable, plant-based dietary patterns ).

What’s more, reducing the number of animal products in your diet and purchasing local, sustainable produce helps drive the local economy and reduces reliance on factory farming, an unsustainable method of food production.

SUMMARY

Plant-based diets emphasizing local ingredients are more environmentally friendly than diets that rely heavily on mass-produced animal products and produce.

Foods to Eat on a Whole-Foods, Plant-Based Diet

From eggs and bacon for breakfast to steak for dinner, animal products are the focus of most meals for many people.

When switching to a plant-based diet, meals should center around plant-based foods.

If animal foods are eaten, they should be eaten in smaller quantities, with attention paid to the quality of the item.

Foods like dairy, eggs, poultry, meat and seafood should be used more as a complement to a plant-based meal, not as the main focal point.

A Whole-Foods, Plant-Based Shopping List

  • Fruits: Berries, citrus fruits, pears, peaches, pineapple, bananas, etc.
  • Vegetables: Kale, spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, asparagus, peppers, etc.
  • Starchy vegetables: Potatoes, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, etc.
  • Whole grains: Brown rice, rolled oats, farro, quinoa, brown rice pasta, barley, etc.
  • Healthy fats: Avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, unsweetened coconut, etc.
  • Legumes: Peas, chickpeas, lentils, peanuts, black beans, etc.
  • Seeds, nuts and nut butters: Almonds, cashews, macadamia nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, natural peanut butter, tahini, etc.
  • Unsweetened plant-based milks: Coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, etc.
  • Spices, herbs and seasonings: Basil, rosemary, turmeric, curry, black pepper, salt, etc.
  • Condiments: Salsa, mustard, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, vinegar, lemon juice, etc.
  • Plant-based protein: Tofu, tempeh, plant-based protein sources or powders with no added sugar or artificial ingredients.
  • Beverages: Coffee, tea, sparkling water, etc.

If supplementing your plant-based diet with animal products, choose quality products from grocery stores or, better yet, purchase them from local farms.

  • Eggs: Pasture-raised when possible.
  • Poultry: Free-range, organic when possible.
  • Beef and pork: Pastured or grass-fed when possible.
  • Seafood: Wild-caught from sustainable fisheries when possible.
  • Dairy: Organic dairy products from pasture-raised animals whenever possible.

SUMMARY

A healthy, WFPB diet should focus on plant foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. If animal products are eaten, they should be eaten in smaller quantities compared to plant foods.