Different vegetables in a grocery: carrots, tomatoes, onions, zucchini, broccoli… All you need to begin a plant-based diet !
Starting a plant-based diet means adding more vegetable to your daily meals

The Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet: What It Is and How to Get Started

7 minutes

With 46% of Britons thinking about reducing the amount of meat they eat and 51% open to the idea of plant-based alternatives, it’s clear that plant-based diets are more than a passing trend. Many are interested in whole-food, plant-based diets, because of the health and environmental benefits.

Whole-food, plant-based diets are gaining in popularity partly because people are becoming more interested in ensuring optimum nutrition and health while reducing their carbon footprint.

What Is a Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet?

A whole-food, plant-based diet is similar to veganism in that both diets exclude meat, dairy, and eggs. As the name suggests, a WFPB diet consists of solely or primarily plant-derived foods, much like veganism. However, a WFPB diet places an additional focus on consuming “whole foods”, that is, foods in their natural state. This means that oils and processed, packaged foods are also avoided. 

The idea is to choose natural foods that are unrefined,
or with minimally refined ingredients.

What Can You Eat on a Plant-Based Diet?

Obviously, a plant-based diet is just that. There is no meat, fish, or dairy produce. But there is still a huge number of healthy foods to enjoy with a diet like this.  The WFPB diet is based on five major food groups: 

  • Fruits: Any type of fruit including citrus fruits.
  • Vegetables: All types of green and leafy vegetables, as well as root vegetables.
  • Legumes: Beans, peas, and lentils.
  • Whole grains: Grains and cereals like quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat, and oats.
  • Tubers: Starchy vegetables like potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, and yuca.

Nuts and seeds are also in, as well as food like tofu and bread made from whole-grain flour. A whole-food, plant-based diet doesn't include dairy produce, but you can have plant-based alternatives like oat milk, soy milk, or almond milk.

Salad, apples, bananas, orange, seed in a tasty vegetable dish
Vegetables and fruits are an important food group in a plant-based diet

What Are the Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet?

For most people, starting a plant-based diet involves eliminating certain food groups such as meat, fish, and dairy: they need to keep an eye on their iron consumption, however, to make sure they get all the essential nutrients. 

But, although it might sound restrictive, there are important benefits to it, which is why so many people are adopting this lifestyle and incorporating more whole foods into their diets.

A plant-based diet is good for your health

Everyone knows that fruits and vegetables are good for you, right? But did you know that following a whole-food, plant-based diet is also valued for providing a series of health benefits? One immediate bonus that most people notice when they start a WFPB diet is weight loss and increased energy. But there are other cited benefits to a diet like this.

A plant-based diet can lower your blood pressure

Analysis of 39 studies showed that people on vegetarian diets have lower blood pressure than those whose diet includes meat. High blood pressure can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type II diabetes.

A plant-based diet can reduce cancer risk

Recent studies concluded that a plant-based diet can reduce the risk of bowel cancer in men by up to 22%. Additionally, a two-decade long study of more than 65,000 postmenopausal women found a 14% lower risk of breast cancer when following a healthy plant-based diet.

A plant-based diet can help lower your cholesterol

High cholesterol can lead to fatty deposits in the blood vessels which can grow and eventually stop blood flowing through your arteries. However, a review conducted in 2017 of 49 separate studies found that following a plant-based diet can significantly lower cholesterol levels.

A plant-based diet can help you live longer

Along with the other benefits mentioned above, studies show that eating a plant-based diet lowers the risk of all causes of mortality by 25%, meaning increased life expectancy.

Woman eating fruit after sport session
A whole-food, plant-based diet is often started for health benefits

A Plant-Based Diet Is Good for the Planet

Many people who start a plant-based diet are motivated by environmental factors as well as the health benefits. With climate change and global warming posing increasing threats to life on Earth, a WFPB diet offers a way to reduce our carbon footprint. 

A report from the United Nations Environment Programme stated that: 

animal products, both meat and dairy, in general, require more resources and cause higher emissions than plant-based alternatives. 

A diet that excludes animal products can help lower dangerous emissions that are damaging to the environment. In fact, researchers at Oxford University calculated that a plant-based diet is the “single biggest way” we can reduce our impact on the environment. Livestock farming uses enormous water resources compared to producing plant-based foods.

15,000 litres of water are used to produce 1 kg of meat
compared to 238 litres to produce the same amount of corn.

Producing meat also pollutes our waterways as a lot of the waste produced by the animals ends up in rivers and streams. So, following a plant-based diet is one way we can conserve and protect water resources.

Carrots fresh from the garden
Followers seek to reduce their carbon footprint with a plant-based diet

How to Get Started with a Whole Plant-Based Diet

It's never easy starting a new diet and learning new habits. But what you eat is an essential part of living a healthy life. Interested? Follow these tips for an easy transition to your new lifestyle!

1. Reduce your meat consumption

There's no rule that says you have to go cold turkey immediately. In fact, a gradual transition gives you more time to get used to your new lifestyle, and it means the changes are more likely to stick. Try going meat-free once a week at first and then gradually swapping out meat for plant-based foods more often.

2. Add more of the five plant-based food groups to your daily routine

A good approach if you want to transition gradually to a WFPB diet is to add more starchy vegetables, legumes, and whole grains to your diet. Foods like this will keep you fuller for longer, and you'll find that your cravings for meat and processed foods decrease.

3. Do your research before eating out

These days it's easier than ever to find restaurants serving plant-based options. There is an increasing number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants, so avoiding meat doesn't mean your social life has to suffer. Why not try some new places serving whole foods, maybe you'll discover some new dishes to enjoy?

4. Stock your pantry before starting

If your kitchen cupboards are full of tempting but unhealthy processed foods, you’ll fall at the first hurdle. Stock up on lots of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and pulses so that you can always create healthy and delicious plant-based meals at home easily.

5. Invest in some cookbooks

When starting out on a plant-based diet it's not always easy to know what to cook if meat is out of the equation. It's a good idea to get some whole-food recipes under your belt that you will enjoy and are easy to make. In fact, you don't even have to spend money buying actual cookery books, there are lots of delicious and easy recipes right on the Internet.

Man cutting tomatoes for meal, in a kitchen
Starting a plant-based diet can be done gradually

With so many reputed health and environmental benefits, it's no surprise that plant-based diets have become so popular in recent years. It doesn't have to be a sudden lifestyle change either; in fact, by taking it slowly and gradually transitioning to more plant-based foods you have a better chance of it becoming a habit you can stick to. 

If you think giving up meat is going to be hard, you could opt for an even more gradual approach by becoming a flexitarian first. This way, you can slowly introduce more whole foods into your diet.

Combine pleasure and foods and discover
our selection of vegetarian and vegan restaurants!


All You Need to Know About a Plant-Based Diet

A plant-based diet includes five food groups: fruit, vegetables, legumes, tubers, and whole grains. It excludes animal products like meat, fish, and dairy.

People who follow a plant-based diet exclude all animal and animal-derived products. They don't eat meat, poultry, fish, seafood or dairy products. They need to keep an eye on their iron consumption, however, to make sure they get all the essential nutrients.


It depends on your level of commitment to the principles of a plant-based diet. A 100% WFPB diet doesn't include any animal-derived products, but some people include them.

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