How does “Whole Food Plant Based” differ from Vegan or Vegetarian?
For one, Vegan often encompasses more than just food. Most vegans also will not wear anything that was made from an animal, for example. For us, we’re focused on what we eat and we don’t eat anything that comes from an animal for health reasons, except for some occasional Rosh Hashanah honey. Another difference can be that you can eat quite a bit of processed food or oils and still be a vegan or vegetarian. We focus on not eating processed foods, limit sodium, and don’t use oils for cooking or baking. We try to eat everything as close to how it grows as we can, but unlike raw food folks, we do cook and bake.
Wait…isn’t olive oil healthy? What about healthy oils and fats?
For you, olive oil might be perfectly healthy in moderation. For us, with my husband’s health issues, we feel it’s safer to not include oils in our diet. This means no nuts, avocados, olive oil, or coconut, even though those are all plant foods. You should talk with your healthcare providers and make your own decisions on what is best for you.
What about carbohydrates? Aren’t those bad?
Right now, there is a lot of hype around high fat, low carb diets and keto diets in particular. Many people lose a lot of weight on these diets without feeling deprived and, if your kidneys are healthy and your cholesterol numbers in a healthy range, those diets might be a great option for you, but for us, again, we’ve chosen this diet based on the need to handle my husband’s health issues, which are primarily diabetes and heart disease. We limit his carbohydrate intake accordingly and the main source of carbohydrates in his diet are beans or high protein grains like quinoa.
How do you get enough protein?
The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight, or 0.36 grams per pound. This amounts to: 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man. 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman.
1 cup of black beans has 39 grams of protein. We eat at least 2 cups of beans, total, per day. 1 cup of cooked chicken breast has 43 grams of protein along with sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol…all of which beans do not have. For us, we choose the beans.
What do you eat?!
The main volume of our diet is greens. Leafy greens of all kinds make up the bulk of our plates or bowls. With each meal we also eat about 1/2-1 cup of beans of some kind or a high protein whole grain. The remainder is other vegetables and a little fruit for him…and maybe a lot more fruit for me and my sweet tooth. We season with herbs and spices, vinegars, and lemon juice.
What about Jewish Holidays?
We’re still working out all the particulars. For now, we’ve talked to our Rav and determined the minimum amount of challah and wine/grape juice we need to consume and we’re sticking by that. The kids are enjoying helping using up the rest of the challah. Obviously, Passover is going to be interesting and there will be other times we may have to work with our Rav to determine which customs can be let go of and which we will need to bend our diet to accomodate.
Do you get full? Aren’t you always hungry?
The key for us to keeping full is fiber. We’re eating a lot of volume, but not as many calories as we’re used to and certainly far less fat. Whenever we’re hungry, we snack on more veggies and, as my husband’s weight comes off and his blood sugars are more easily controlled, we plan to add in more whole grains and complex carbohydrate vegetables to help keep him full.
What about eating out or at other people’s homes?
We already didn’t eat out at restaurants much since we are kosher keeping Jews. We did eat at other people’s houses a lot and we’re still working out how to still be socialable while eating this way. We may have to bring our own food or eat before we go. We may have to explain to the person cooking. More than likely, it will be a balance and there will be some times that we choose the least “off plan” option on the table.