The Whole Food Plant-Based Diet
Under the umbrella term of a 'plant-based' diet, there are many different dietary styles which vary widely in their composition. Based on the available scientific evidence, I recommend and promote a whole food plant-based (WFPB) diet, which refers to consuming minimally-processed plant foods.
A WFPB diet includes:
- Legumes (also known as pulses, such as chickpeas and lentils)
- Nuts and seeds
- Whole grains and their products
- Meat and fish
- Dairy products
- Refined oils
- Refined sugars
- Highly-processed foods
Is a WFPB diet a vegan diet?
A WFPB diet is different to veganism.
While people who follow a WFPB diet are essentially on a vegan diet, they may not exclude animal products from their lifestyle (for example, the may still wear leather and silk), and as such wouldn't identify as vegan. Veganism is an ethical philosophy which seeks to eliminate all animal products from the diet and lifestyle.
Conversely, many foods which are vegan are highly-processed (such as vegan cheeses and mock meats), and hence are not included on a WFPB diet.
Why would someone choose to eat a WFPB diet?
For their health:
WFPB diets are packed with vitamins, minerals, dietary fibre, and powerful phytonutrients (such as lycopene in tomatoes and beta-carotene in pumpkin), and have been shown to reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes and cardiovascular (heart) disease (CVD).
For the environment:
The simplest and most effective way to reduce your carbon footprint is to stop eating animal foods such as meat and dairy. Farmed animals contribute huge quantities of greenhouse gases (methane and carbon dioxide) to the atmosphere, which is the key driver of global warming. Animal agriculture is also notoriously water-intensive, adding strain to this limited natural resource.
On compassionate grounds:
Modern-day factory farming is a far cry from our idyllic, childhood visions of animals on a farm. Farming is a business, like any other. Costs are cut where possible to maximise profits, which means animals are packed tightly into cages, subjected to painful procedures without anaesthetic, pumped with antibiotics (as a preventative measure), and aren't allowed to socialise or express normal behaviours.