Outline of a Whole Food
Plant-Based Diet - Part 1
by Marcella Torres
Here's Part I of a three-part practical guide to eating a whole food, plant based diet! While the guide is intended to be general and apply to anyone, there are plenty of tips included for bodybuilders and those looking to gain or lose weight!
Part I will cover the why (FAQ), Part II the what (daily meal options), and Part III the how (a weekly menu, eating out, shopping tips).
First things first, the FAQ! I hope it will address the 3 biggest perceived obstacles to improving your diet:
- It’s expensive
- It’s hard to get enough protein
- It’s hard (to grocery shop, to eat out, to prepare food)
- It’s expensive: This is obviously going to be of particular concern for bodybuilders on a bulking diet! A vegan diet that relies on packaged fake this and faux that can be expensive but a whole food diet based on vegetables, fruits, dried beans, and whole grains is the cheapest available. Between us, Derek Tresize and I eat enough for four non-bodybuilding adults and our grocery bill is now around $175/week or $15 a day per person (we eat out a few times). See here for for a real-life sample grocery bill and what I was able to prepare with the food we purchased.
- It’s hard to get enough protein: From the highly recommended book Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman:
Which has more protein – oatmeal, ham, or a tomato? The answer is that they all have about the same amount of protein per calorie. The difference is, the tomato and the oatmeal are packaged with fiber and other disease-fighting nutrients, and the ham is packaged with cholesterol and saturated fat…I see about twenty to thirty new patients per week, and I always ask them, “Which has more protein – one hundred calories of steak or one hundred calories of broccoli?” When I tell them it’s broccoli the most frequent response is “I didn’t know broccoli had protein in it.” I then ask them, “So where did you think the calories in broccoli come from? Did you think it was mostly fat, like an avocado, or mostly carbohydrate, like a potato?”…When you eat large quantities of green vegetables you receive a considerable amount of protein.
Crazy, right? Check out my Cream of Broccoli Soup - it contains 9.4 grams of protein in one small bowl, 33% protein overall (and with only 1.4 grams of fat)! Eat two small bowls and you've had the whole food, nutrient rich equivalent of a protein shake! Dr. Fuhrman also includes a chart comparing protein per calorie for foods such as a Burger King cheeseburger, yogurt, peas, lentils, spinach, and tofu. Guess which foods have the most protein per calorie? Green vegetables, with spinach as the overall champion. After all, how does a gorilla, rhinoceros, or elephant get so damn big? Greens!
- It’s hard (to grocery shop, to eat out, to prepare food): Part III will cover this in much greater detail, but briefly…Grocery shopping actually becomes pretty simple when you’re just replenishing staples like grains and legumes and picking out the freshest vegetables. Fresh whole food doesn’t need much enhancement to taste good, so as your tastes change your recipes will naturally simplify and therefore your shopping lists will shrink. Vegetables, grains, and legumes can also be found anywhere at any supermarket, too, making any perceived difficulty in making do on a vegan diet evaporate. While it is hard to find fake meats and cheeses in some places, the truth is that stuff is not good for you anyway so you may be luckier if you can’t easily access it. Manufactured, mechanically produced food should not make up more than 10% of your diet. Treat it as an indulgence. As for eating out, you will have plenty of options as long as you avoid American chain restaurants! They have nothing for anyone seeking healthy food beyond maybe some wilted iceberg lettuce. Mexican, Thai, Chinese, Ethiopian, Greek, Lebanese, and of course vegetarian restaurants all have plenty of options. Again, look for Part III to get into the specifics!