Gettting started with a whole food, plant based diet – my opinion, v0.2

I was talking to some friends and co-workers not long ago, and we were discussing diet, exercise, eating, and all that good stuff. I promised to write something up about what I was doing, with a bit more detail than I put into my previous post.

With nary a care in the world, I sat down and before I knew it, I had over a thousand wordsRed peppers written, and had barely even started talking about what I was interested in talking about. (I’m not kidding. Here is the first draft, just for giggles.) Realizing that it had more of a book feel to it, I decided to shelve it for later, and just do a good ol’ blog post.

So, starting over and being a bit more concise:

I am following a whole food, (mostly) plant based diet based on the writings and lectures of doctors Esselstyn, Campbell, Lisle, McDougall and others, such as Michael Pollan.  Whew, that’s a mouthful, and what’s the proper pluralized form of doctor when it includes MD’s and PhD’s?

What they promote can be summarized [by me] as:

  1. Eat whole foods. That is, foods that have ingredients you can recognize as being food. If it sounds Greek, with all sorts of prefixes and suffixes, then it’s probably bad for you.
  2. Stay away from animal products. This means stay away from meat. And from products made from meat. No hamburgers, hotdogs, or chicken soup. Oh, and for those of you confused, Fish is a meat. And eggs come from an animal, hence, they are meat[-ish].
  3. Stay away from dairy. From what I’ve read, the good doctors don’t quite say the same reasons for staying away from dairy, but they all agree you should. No milk, ice cream, coffee creamer and cheese.
  4. Stay away from food that’s processed. This is the stuff that’s been beaten up, mixed up, pulverized, re-constituted, and then put back together. Er, stuff like all purpose flour.  (Whole wheat flour is fine. Stone ground is even better.)
  5. Don’t pig out.  Yeah, that’s right, stop eating before you’re stuffed to the gills.

So, what does that leave you with?  A whole lot, actually…

  1. Leafy greens: Lettuce, Spinach, Kale, Collard Greens, whatever you like.
  2. Beans: They’re good for you’re heart, the more you eat the more…uh, well, they’re good for your heart.
  3. Oatmeal:  Eat a bowl every day. Really.  Put honey in it. Put raisins in it. Put apples and bananas in it…heck, pour your coffee and herbal tea into it if you want, but eat it.
  4. Fruit: Apples, bananas, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, and whatever other weird thing you can find in the produce aisle. Pretty much, anything in the produce aisle is allowed.
  5. Nuts, and related nut butters:  Here again is a disagreement amongst the doctors. I chose to eat in moderation.
  6. Just about any vegetable.
  7. A whole lot more.  The world’s your (vegetarian, non-meat) oyster.

If I were starting from scratch, with just the above guidelines to go on, I’d eliminate things in the following order:  Milk, Oil, Meat.

That is, if I were to say, I’m going to take my first step, so what would I get rid of first, it would be milk products. Then, in a week or two, I’d get rid of all extra oil. Lastly, I’d get rid of the meat.

Now, I’m sure a lot of people will read that and say “No!  You need to do it all immediately!” Sorry guys, I disagree. It would help to do that, and it’s completely doable. Heck, I did it, and I was a cookie and donut loving carnivore.  But for those people who don’t want to commit whole-hearted, that’s where I’d start.

A realistic question is, have I seen any benefits from this? Yes. My blood pressure is down. My resting heart rate is down somewhere in the mid 50’s. My cholesterol is down, according to the cheap home test I did it’s around 133. In general, I feel better and have plenty of energy. Oh yeah, I may have slimmed down a little too.

Now, I’ll confess a couple things, and then be done:

  • I’m not a doctor, never played on TV, and have no formal education in nutrition.  I like to read, and this is a subject I find interesting, so I am learning more about it every day.  If you have concerns, you should discuss them with a doctor or someone whom you trust and had knowledge of the subject.
  • These are my opinions. Take them for what it’s worth to you.
  • My reasons for doing this are many, but mainly it’s to improve the quality of my life. Part of my quality of life is spending time with my wife and children, and if they want to go to Costco and have a piece of pizza and ice cream for lunch once in a while, then that’s what we’re doing. I choose not to eat most it, but I go with them and we have a good time. Keeping the reasons you’re doing this foremost in your thoughts, and it becomes a lot easier.
  • That’s also why above, it says I’m following a “mostly” plant based diet. A bit of something or another on occasion may happen, and I’m not going to stress out about it. The zealot’s out there will say never do it that is off the plan, but everyone needs to makes their own choice.
  • Those links above will take you to Amazon, so you can see exactly what books I’m reading.

I’d love to hear your opinions in the comments below.  Is this helpful? Do you want more information? Should I finish my book? Do you want recipes?



  1. Nice summary and great advice, Rahn. (Doug Lisle talks about choosing to swap out unhealthy foods for healthy ones and Colin Campbell talks about not beating yourself up if you occasionally eat something cooked with chicken broth or dairy or some other unhealthy item.)

    And yes, I vote that you please keep the info, recipes, ups-and-downs, ideas, etc. coming!

    IMO, our Standard American Diet/Main Street Diet/Eat What We’re Marketed culture has steered us away from healthy eating; your passing along your experiences is how these healthy ideas get shared with others who share them with others and so on…

    Case in point, about six months ago, Marla told her mom about what we’re doing (almost identical to your plan), so she started doing it herself. A few months later, a friend of hers asked, “You look great! What are you doing?” While eating (mostly) healthy hadn’t caused a big weight loss for her, she looked better. In the end, the friend asked for info about the eating plan and shared that info with her daughter.

    That said, some folks are in the right place to hear this information and some aren’t, so a passive (e.g., blog) form seems to be a good vehicle for these thoughts. (I know that if we’d been told this stuff ten years ago, we would have rolled our eyes.)

    Thanks again for sharing this!

    • Thanks for the feed back. I’ll keep the info coming, because I enjoy it.
      (And just found a grilled no-cheese sandwich you gotta try, so need to share that recipe!)

      I like the passive approach.
      Some people are pretty up in arms about what they’re doing, but I usually find that to be obnoxious. Kind of like the Greenpeace guy who shows up on my doorstep, then threatens violence and chaining himself to my porch if I don’t give money to the cause. (Er, I guess that happened more often in Seattle than Atlanta.)

  2. my family and i have gone to a “mostly” WFPBD about a year ago. with five children all under the age of 12 we also allow the occasional indulgence. we try to stay below the 5% casein level as talked about in the Forks over knives documentary. so we do go out for wings or something once in a while. the children can choose what ever they want for their birthday dinner. we still make a turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas. we believe that complete abstinence will only encourage our children to completely abandon this diet the first chance they are able. our basic goal is to teach them that the vast majority of food you eat should be for good health. and just a little for your pleasure, and that is o.k.. we have all seen some noticeable benefits such as, weight loss, children’s behavior much more stable, much higher energy levels, better sleep, less allergies and sickness. to anyone who is on the fence, you should give it a try. the worst thing that may happen is you end up a bit healthier and lighter.

    • My children are still at the mostly finger food age, which also implies the really picky eaters age, and we haven’t quite figured out what to give them all the time.
      Hopefully, we’ll either figure it out, or they’ll have completely mastered silverware soon. The youngest is getting pretty good with a fork.