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  • Writer's pictureMelanie

vegan or wholefoods plant-based diet?

There can be a world of difference between being vegan and following a wholefoods plant-based (WFPB) diet.

A modern vegan diet can be full of processed foods, like vegan nuggets, meat-alternative burgers, Oreo biscuits and highly processed cheese-alternatives.

Lots of new vegan products hit the shelves every day, which on one hand make it easy to avoid meat and dairy while still having flavours and textures that we are used to; however, they can be nutritionally poor. Clearly not all vegans eat in this way, but many manufacturers of vegan products push us towards following a processed diet as this is good for their profits.

This approach is not going to bring any health benefits and can be detrimental to us in many ways; diets high in processed foods have been shown to lead to a higher risk of many conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancers, depression. (1–4)

On the other hand, research has shown that following a WFPB diet is beneficial for our health: maintaining a healthy body weight, preventing cardiovascular disease, inflammation and cancers and supporting both hormonal health and healthy brain ageing. It is also seen to be the optimal diet for supporting our planet. (5–9)

So what is a WFPB diet?

A WFPB diet is exactly what it says: it is full of real foods and plants, including fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and beans. It is minimally processed, although it can contain manufactured elements for ease, such as premade plant-based milks, tofu and tempeh.

What is included?

Fruit: at least two portions a day. Berries, bananas, apples, pears, grapes, kiwi, avocado. Mango, citrus fruits, peaches, plums, melon, figs, tomatoes, etc.

Vegetables: at least five portions a day. Kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, spinach, carrots, leeks, parsnips, asparagus, peas, beans, peppers, onions, garlic, courgette, swede, squash, beetroot, chard, artichoke, sweetcorn, lettuce, etc.

Wholegrains: Wholegrain pasta, pasta from lentils or chickpeas, quinoa, wholegrain bread and crackers, brown rice, oats, buckwheat, etc.

Beans and legumes: black beans, black-eyed beans, adzuki beans, kidney beans, cannellini beans, haricot beans, chickpeas, lentils (red, yellow, green, brown), green beans, broad beans, edamame beans, tofu, tempeh, etc.

Nuts and seeds: almonds, walnuts, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, cashew nuts, pistachio nuts, pecans, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, flax seed, chia seed, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, etc.

Herbs and spices: cinnamon, turmeric, ginger, basil, coriander, cumin, garlic, parsley, lemongrass, pepper, chilli flakes, nutmeg, oregano, thyme, dill, mint, etc.

Dairy alternatives: unsweetened plant milks e.g. oat, almond, soya, rice, hemp, pea. Unsweetened non-dairy yoghurts such as oat, soya or coconut.

Extras: nutritional yeast which gives a cheesy flavour and contains vitamin B12.

Supplements: Vitamin B12 as a minimum, it may also be useful to take a vegan multi that includes vitamin D3, selenium, iodine, zinc and an algae-sourced omega 3.

The Plant Based Health Professionals have adapted the UK Government's ‘Eat Well Plate’ to give an example of what to include in your diet:

If you fancy trying an easy and tasty WFPB recipe, check out my recipe section.

All recipes that feature on Be Perfectly Nourished are plant-based and gluten-free, so feel free to try them out! I add to the recipe blog each month, so keep checking back for new ideas.

If you would like support in moving towards a WFPB diet, book a free discovery call with me today!

Further reading:

The Plant Power Doctor by Dr Gemma Newman

The Proof is in the Plants by Simon Hill

How Not to Die by Michael Greger, MD

Fibre Fueled by Will Bulsiewicz, MD

The Alzheimer’s Solution by Dean Sherzai MD and Ayesha Sherzai, MD


1. Juul F, Vaidean G, Lin Y, Deierlein AL, Parekh N. Ultra-Processed Foods and Incident Cardiovascular Disease in the Framingham Offspring Study. J Am Coll Cardiol [Internet]. 2021 Mar 30 [cited 2022 Jan 24];77(12):1520–31. Available from:

2. Dahl WJ, Rivero Mendoza D, Lambert JM. Diet, nutrients and the microbiome. Prog Mol Biol Transl Sci [Internet]. 2020 Jan 1 [cited 2022 Jan 24];171:237–63. Available from:

3. Elizabeth L, Machado P, Zinöcker M, Baker P, Lawrence M. Ultra-Processed Foods and Health Outcomes: A Narrative Review. Nutrients [Internet]. 2020 Jul 1 [cited 2022 Jan 24];12(7):1–36. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC7399967/

4. Kouvari M, D’Cunha NM, Travica N, Sergi D, Zec M, Marx W, et al. Metabolic Syndrome, Cognitive Impairment and the Role of Diet: A Narrative Review. Nutrients [Internet]. 2022 Jan 13 [cited 2022 Jan 24];14(2):333. Available from:

5. Najjar RS, Feresin RG. Plant-Based Diets in the Reduction of Body Fat: Physiological Effects and Biochemical Insights. Nutrients [Internet]. 2019 Nov 1 [cited 2022 Jan 24];11(11). Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC6893503/

6. Kim H, Caulfield LE, Rebholz CM. Healthy Plant-Based Diets Are Associated with Lower Risk of All-Cause Mortality in US Adults. J Nutr [Internet]. 2018 Apr 1 [cited 2022 Jan 24];148(4):624–31. Available from:

7. Medawar E, Huhn S, Villringer A, Veronica Witte A. The effects of plant-based diets on the body and the brain: a systematic review. Transl Psychiatry [Internet]. 2019 Dec 1 [cited 2022 Jan 24];9(1). Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC6742661/

8. Satija A, Hu FB. Plant-based diets and cardiovascular health. Trends Cardiovasc Med [Internet]. 2018 Oct 1 [cited 2022 Jan 24];28(7):437. Available from: /pmc/articles/PMC6089671/

9. Chen MN, Lin CC, Liu CF. Efficacy of phytoestrogens for menopausal symptoms: A meta-analysis and systematic review. Climacteric. 2015 Apr 1;18(2):260–9.

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