By Molly Patrick
Aug 5, 2017,
Today I’m rewinding this track and bringing it waaaaay back to basics.
If you’re brand new to eating mostly plants this is for you. A collection of whole food plant based resources so let’s pass go and collect our $200 (shout out to my fave childhood board game).
This post contains the most frequently asked questions from people who are brand spankin’ new to this way of eating, and helpful answers to start you off on the right foot. Once you understand the basics, we can swim into deeper waters.
Click on the links below to get to the relevant topic areas.
- Basic definitions for Whole Food Plant Based and vegan.
- What do you eat on a Whole Food Plant Based lifestyle.
- What about green smoothies.
- Whole Food Plant Based abbreviations.
- What about soy? Should I be worried about it?
- What do you eat for breakfast?
- The 411 on farting when you go Whole Food Plant Based.
- What? No oil? But why? I thought olive oil was healthy.
- What about nutrients and supplements?
- Kitchen gadgets. What do I need to have?
- Detoxing and what to expect.
- Counting calories.
- Don’t overcomplicate shit.
- Traveling while plant based
Let’s start with some basic definitions.
Veganism is a movement against animal cruelty. Vegans don’t eat food or buy products (including clothes, bags, furniture, etc..) that are made with animal derived ingredients. No meat, no seafood, no fowl, no eggs, no dairy, no honey, no leather, no gelatin – anything that comes from animals, or is a bi-product of animals is a red light – in every area of life.
Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB):
A way of eating that focuses on nutrient dense, whole plant foods. This includes veggies, fruits, whole grains, beans & legumes, and nuts & seeds. When eating Whole Food Plant Based, all processed foods are avoided. This includes oil, refined sugar, refined white flour and any overly processed foods and ingredients, even the vegan ones (I’m talking to you vegan ice cream).
This is an umbrella term that is used interchangeably to describe people who eat vegan and people who eat a Whole Food Plant Based diet. When you hear something described as “plant based” you can bet your britches that it won’t have any animal products, but it might have oil or refined ingredients.
If you want to dive deeper into Vegan vs. Whole Food Plant Based, here are six blog posts that will help you understand it better.
- My transition from Vegan to Whole Food Plant Based
- An easy blueprint to help you make the switch to Vegan or Whole Food Plant Based
- My take on faux meat
- Understanding the difference between Vegan food and Whole Food Plant Based food
- A full downloadable list of Whole Food Plant Based ingredients
- All about minimally processed plant foods, like soy milk, sprouted bread and tofu.
Now that you understand all of the different shades of plant based, let’s talk about what the hell to eat.
Whether you dive in head first and make the change overnight or you slowly dip your toes in, your process is unique to you. How you proceed depends on your motivation for making these life supporting changes.
If you’re doing this for health reasons and you KNOW it’s time to get your shit together, jumping in and making the switch overnight isn’t a bad idea. But if you’re just curious about this way of eating, there’s nothing wrong with adding a few plant based meals in here and there and testing the waters.
There is no right or wrong way to do this. Listen to your gut and heart and decide what you want to do. And then do it. Either way, we have you covered.
- You can start with our free whole food plant based recipes. We have tons of free recipes that have been tested and approved by thousands of people, (including skeptical partners and kids) and we add a new recipe every week.
- If you don’t want to think about what to cook, join our weekly plant based meeal plans. We tell you exactly what’s on the menu each week, along with a detailed grocery list, batch cooking instructions, and how to throw it all together to make scrumptious meals throughout the week.
- If it’s snacks you’re looking for, here’s a list of whole food plant based snack ideas.
I know this is a lot of information, but my advice is to not overthink it. Pick one recipe and follow along or sign up for our plant based meal plans.
One thing that’s really important during this transition is that the food tastes good, and I can tell you with confidence that our recipes are fucking delicious. That’s because Team Dirty knows the food has to taste good in order for this to be enjoyable.
So what’s happening with green smoothies?
When done right, green smoothies are nutrient powerhouse aces. When I talk about green smoothies I’m talking about a pure nutrient boost in liquid form that you make in your blender, filled with veggies and seeds and berries and even sometimes spices and sweet potatoes (sounds weird, tastes delicious).
I’m not talking about smoothies that are prepackaged or fruit smoothies from Jamba Juice or some bullshit place like that. Those are usually filled with sugar and they don’t have a single raw leafy green in them.
I’ve had one green smoothie a day for the past decade and I love them.
Below are a few of my favorite green smoothie recipes.
- Beginner Green Smoothie Recipe
- One of my fave green smoothies
- Super easy and super tasty green smoothie
- Frothy Cacao Cooler
Next let’s talk whole food plant based abbreviations.
If you’re in our private Facebook group (which for the love, I hope you are because it’s the BEST), you may have noticed what looks like people writing in secret code. Here’s a cheat sheet that explains these abbreviations.
So here’s a fact. People are shit scared of soy.
Here’s another fact. There is no reason to be shit scared of soy. Watch this video of me and Brenda Davis, RD, clearing up this confusing and often heated topic. If you’re not sure what role soy foods should play in your life, this video is your answer. And here’s a hint – if you think soy is evil, you’ve been bamboozled. It’s actually just a bean.
Let’s talk whole food plant based breakfast.
This one comes up A LOT with new riders on the plant based bus. Turns out, breakfast is actually a lot easier when eating plants than people realize. I wrote a whole post about it here that includes breakfast recipes and ideas. This post will clear up your breakfast confusion and give you lots of plant based breakfast solutions.
In addition to that, here’ a whole category of whole food plant based breakfast food ideas and recipes for you.
Bloating, farting and probiotics in the whole food plant based diet world. Yes – we’re going there!
When you transition to plant based eating, it takes your gut a bit of time to catch up. During this time you will be farty and probably bloated (and if you’re super lucky, both!). Your gut bacteria needs a couple weeks before it can break down all the fiber-rich foods in a way that’s um…more silent and comfortable. To help you through this bubbly transition, read the posts below.
- Healthy poop explained
- Bloating and farting and how to transition to fiber-rich foods with ease
- Tips and tricks to help you fart way less
- Balancing your gut bacteria without taking expensive probiotics
Moving on to oil.
Processed oil is not included in the Whole Food Plant Based way of eating (not even coconut or olive oil).
This one really trips people up like an uneven sidewalk. And I get it – we’ve all heard over and over again how heart healthy olive oil is and how coconut oil can cure just about anything.
Here’s the deal. The doctors and scientists who have been studying and practicing nutrition based science for decades suggest skipping oil completely. Dr. Michael Greger, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn – they all agree that oil (again – this is all types, even coconut oil and olive oil) are too overly processed, making the ratio of calories to nutrients a poor choice of fat.
Now of course we need some fat, but we can easily get healthy fat from avocados and nuts and seeds. And when we do this, we get the added benefit of fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals to boot.
Here’s the other thing – oil is not at all necessary for cooking damn tasty food. It might seem weird at first, but after a few weeks of going without, you won’t miss it. And then when you do eat something with oil, it will feel totally out of place and weird in your mouth. Also, doing the dishes when you don’t cook with oil is much faster and easier.
Here are some helpful blog posts about oil that will help you better understand why it might be a good idea to skip it.
- Clearing up the confusion about oil
- All about the different types of fat
- All about saturated fat
- Reasons to avoid oil
Let’s talk nutrients and supplements when you’re whole food plant based.
You know what gets me? You can eat like shit for decades and no one says anything about nutrient deficiencies, but the moment you remove meat, eggs, dairy and processed food from your diet, suddenly everyone becomes an expert and tries to school you about protein, calcium and nutrients. Come on! When you start eating healthy, THAT’S when people become concerned? It doesn’t compute.
People who switch to a Whole Food Plant Based diet generally get way more nutrients than people eating a typical Western diet, not to mention tons of beneficial fiber, quality plant protein (yes, plants have more than enough protein), healthy complex carbohydrates and protective phytochemicals. Most people think that if you’re not eating meat and dairy then you won’t get enough protein, calcium, iron, and other nutrients. It’s pure sparkling bullshit. Don’t let people fuck with your plant eating game!
The only supplements plant eaters have to take is definitely B12 and possibly vitamin D. There are also some nutrients that you want to be mindful of getting enough of through your food, but there’s no need to stress about not getting enough protein or becoming sickly and malnourished on your plant based journey. You also don’t have to spend a shitload of money on supplements and protein powder. Don’t believe the hype.
I love this plant based supplement
If you purchase from this link, we make a small commission
Below are some posts that explain more about protein, B12, vitamin D, and the rest of the nutrients that you want to make sure you’re eating enough of.
- All about protein and exactly how much you need
- B12, D and calcium
- Iron, Dha / EPA / Iodine
- Dr. Fuhrman and I talk about nutritional excellence
Some people love kitchen gadgets. Some people do not.
I personally do not love kitchen gadgets. I like to get by with the most low maintenance kitchen as possible. You can fancy it up and buy all kinds of things to help you in the kitchen, but you don’t have to (until a few months ago my salad spinner was a $2 buy from a garage sale and was duct taped together). Below are a few posts and a quick video that will help you understand that cooking this way is much less complicated than people think.
- Helpful kitchen tools (one)
- Helpful kitchen tools (two)
- Video about how I wash and store my greens each week
- Blenders. We’ve sorted through all the brands so you don’t have to
Detoxing is a bitch. Let’s talk about it.
If you keep hearing about how much energy people have and how awesome they feel after switching to plants and you have NO IDEA what they’re talking about because you have zero energy and you feel like a tractor just ran you over, I got you.
There’s actually good reason for this and it’s all about the body processing out toxins. And the more toxins your body has, the worse you will feel – in the beginning. But trust me when I tell you, this will not last long and you will feel better soon.
Below is a post that will help you understand what your body goes through when you detox and why you feel like shit when you’re just starting out on your plant based adventure. Before you read it, know that feeling crappy only lasts about a week (give or take) and as long as you stay the course, you will feel better and have a ton of energy soon. #yougotthis
Getting out of the habit of being a mad scientist with your food. I’m talking combining, portions, counting and ratios.
A lot of people are used to the diet mindset. They think that getting enough protein is hard if they don’t eat meat. They’re convinced that carbs are the enemy and starchy carbs are even worse. They’re used to putting their food into a tracker and relying on a screen to tell them if they’ve made smart eating choices.
For the love of all things good in the world, let’s stop the madness and walk away from the points and charts and diagrams and tracking apps and percentages and numbers and breaking food down to the sum of its parts. And instead, let’s find freedom in the simple act of eating quality food.
Eating like a badass, getting super healthy, and maintaining a healthy weight for your frame isn’t about the quantity of your food, it’s about the quality of your food.
I know this is new information to most people, and it takes a while to unlearn what the dieting industry and has hammered into society for the past half a century.
Here are some posts that will give you clarity around this and help you understand why counting and measuring your food might actually be holding you back.
- Why counting calories doesn’t make sense
- Dieting is a bitch of a cycle
- Understanding carbohydrates and low carb diets
And if you still have questions about whether or not you should portion out or meals, focus on macronutrient ratios, count calories, avoid nuts and seeds, and worry about food combining, the answer is no. We offer nutrition info in Plant Fueled Life for those who want it.
Don’t overcomplicate this.
Focus on eating a wide range of whole plant foods (veggies, fruit, whole grains, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds) so that you have plenty of nutritional diversity. And then eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re no longer hungry.
This is all about listening to your body.
Our plant based meal plans are hand crafted each and every week with nutritional diversity in mind. And if you want a little more guidance on this, I recommend downloading Dr. Greger’s free app, The Daily Dozen (find it in your iOS or Android app store).
This will help you make sure that you’re getting enough of all the whole plant foods that you need every day. This app is great for people just starting out. After doing this for about a month, you won’t have to think about it, you’ll just eat ALL the plant foods and be free, happy and energized.
Sorting out the people and resources you can trust from the people and resources who don’t have your health or best interest in mind is hard, especially when you’re new to all of this. I’ve been working in this industry for a long time and below is a list of plant based doctors and whole food plant based resources that I trust.
- Trusted plant based doctors, whole food plant based resources, websites, books and dietitians. Plus the best website to find a plant based doctor near you.
Possibly the most important piece of advice for you is to not overcomplicate this.
When you start a new chapter of your life, it’s important to be informed and learn the basics of how to navigate your new way of life, but for the love, don’t ponder so much that it stops you from taking any action at all. When you start down the rabbit hole of plant based analysis paralysis, remember my words:
Eat more whole plant foods and less of everything else.
Traveling while whole food plant based. Yes, it’s doable.
This was one of the big motivating factors for me in creating this whole food plant based resource. Staying 100% whole food plant based while traveling might be a stretch because of oil but if you’re flexible, if you leave for your trip prepared, and if you don’t mind getting creative then you can stick to your plant based way of eating wherever you go in the world.
Go back to this whole food plant based resource as many times as you need. And in the meantime, here’s a little story about not overthinking shit, or as I like to call it, stop squeezing the cat.
May your plant based journey be long and thriving, and may your delicious body reap the benefits. To help you on your journey, be sure to sign up for my Sweary Saturday Love Letters.
Today’s recipe is perfect for all newbies.
- 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cacao powder totally optional
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper about 10 turns
- 1/2 cup diced red onion 60g
- 2 cans plain black beans rinsed and drained (15 oz / 425g each / no salt)
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1/2 cup water 117g
- 1 can of diced tomatoes 14.5 oz / 411g
- In a small bowl, mix together the ancho chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin powder, cacao powder (if using), onion powder, Mexican oregano, salt and black pepper. Set this aside for now.
- Heat a large pan over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the onion and saute for 6 minutes, adding a splash of water when they start to stick or look dry. Stir in the black beans and garlic, stir and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
- Add the water and the spice mixture and bring to a simmer. Cook for 6-8 minutes, until the onions are soft and the beans are heated through. Turn off the heat, add the tomatoes and stir.
- Use in burritos, tacos or a bad ass bowl. Top it with Smoky Gouda sauce and prepare for mouthgasm.
Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with taking action.
Fall in love with plant based cooking
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This was so needed! Thank you!!!!
Great article except veganism isn’t a diet. It’s a social movement against animal cruelty and environmental destruction. This is why there is vegan junk food.
agree kaitlyn!! I look for PLANT based recipes and VEGAN comes up. NOT the same
Great information. Wish you could have articulated it without profanity. Diminished your content and created a negative tone, which I think is opposite what you intended.
Sorry Lt, but I have to disagree. I’m not trying to convince you to change your opinion, but for me, it made it fun to read. I laughed out load at the first one, and enjoyed the second one. It made me want to read the entire article. Real people swear all the time – it doesn’t make them bad, it often makes them authentic. The amount of profanity was very little and added just the right amount of emphasis. I’ve been on my plant based journey for several years. I love that I crave vegetables!!
I have to agree with LT. I am gathering information to get my family on a plant-based diet and I find myself just taking snip-its of information from this site, rather than referring everyone to it. We are real people but we really don’t cuss/swear all the time. Not saying I NEVER swear. I really have to be beyond angry to swear. There is some great advise on this site. But to state F_____ery all the time is just not my “taste”. Although, I am sure this is appealing to some.
No need to be so cute and profane with your writing. Detracts from the message.
To quote the all mighty Dude, “Well, You Know, That’s Just, Like, Your Opinion, Man”
I agree. I enjoy some well placed swearing. I swear, I enjoy it. It doesn’t hurt anyone. Plus I’ve been trying really hard to eat WFPB and it’s hard. So a nice easy recipe is exactly what I need. I just need to find some easy go-to recipes as staples that I can feed my family when I can’t find something to make. This should be easy, unfortunately it’s a lot easier to eat crap.
Dumb question, what’s the difference between regular and Mexican oregano? Thanks!
True oregano is slightly sweet with bitter and peppery notes, likely stemming from its roots in the mint family.
Mexican oregano is brighter with floral and citrus notes and a hint of anise, flavors that are characteristic of most herbs in the verbena family.
Life may be leading me in this direction, but my brain is resisting.
The idea of no oil makes me ANGRY! Seriously. Not saying that’s reasonable, or that you’re unreasonable, just that I have this very strong reaction to it. Yes, I understand the implications of this, social, psychological and dietary. But still, there it is.
Please tell me there’s a way to “taper off.” Maybe the oil is a habit or an addiction, maybe it’s not, but I can tell you now, this isn’t something I’m going to willingly give up without some accommodation.
It would be easier to go down this path if there was the opening to drizzle a little oil over things, even in a much more moderate, measured way, for an intermediate or transitional time.
Also there is no way to really saute things without oil. You all need a new word. Using the word “saute” for what you’re doing isn’t really honest. “Steam cook” would work. You’re using steam to form a cushion between the food and the pan. Even adding the word “water” to the word “saute” would be better. But “saute” this isn’t.
Well, I may be your most reluctant proposition ever, but the logical part of my brain realizes that this is probably a good path to go down, even as the emotional part of my soul rejects it somewhat forcefully. Please wish me luck. I hope you can deal with the outpouring and venting. I am the vocal fraction (a small fraction I am sure) of the group that looks at all this and leaves without saying anything.
Your thoughts and response are welcome.
Hi BB, Thanks for making this honest post. You are not alone. The idea of changing lifelong eating patterns – which are a part of who we are – is bound to evoke a visceral reaction. It’s scary…like you’re about to lose a part of your identity. It’s not always easy to try something new or different, especially when it comes to food. My own journey to eat way more unprocessed plant foods has been an almost two-decade-long endeavor.
The idea with whole food plant based cooking is that fats consumed are in as natural a state as possible – so whole olives, actual coconut, avocado, nuts, seeds, etc. That being said, we’re firm believers in doing what is right for you. Maybe see how you feel scaling it down gradually. But, if you really want to continue to use oil, maybe you love olive oil, by all means have at it…we’re not here to stop you or judge you for making that choice. I learned to like tempeh through a recipe that fried it in avocado oil. And, while I haven’t cooked with oil at home in a long time, I keep a small spray bottle of oil that I can spritz on popcorn if I get the urge. I don’t worry if I’m eating out and oil is used to prepare my food. It’s not ideal and I’d love to have non-oil laden meal choices when eating out, but restaurant culture just isn’t there so until it is, I just go with the flow and make the best choices that I can without beating myself up. I will say that now that I’m adjusted to not eating lots of oil, I am averse to super oily foods from both a palate and digestive perspective.
We have a lot of great recipes on the blog for foods that traditionally would be made with oil, salad dressing for example, that are stellar and use nuts and/or seeds in lieu of oil. Here’s a link to check out the different dressing and sauce recipes that we have up. I encourage you to try one or two.
Molly has written about how this dietary pattern is not an all or nothing game and it’s not about being perfect.
As far as using the word saute, yes, technically a saute uses oil. What we do is a high-heat without oil that frees moisture from the foods on contact. In cases of sticking during longer cook times, we add a splash of water as needed. Once upon a time I had all kinds of food sticking to my pan as I tried to cook without oil and did not believe it was possible. Then, I tried a different technique and was amazed that I really did not need oil to cook. And, cleaning dishes is so much easier without oil.
If you are motivated to look at making multiple whole food plant based meals during the week, head over here and scroll about 1/2-way down the page and look for the blue button that says “Hook me up with a free meal plan” and we’ll send you an actual meal plan for free.
Feel free to shoot me an email at [email protected] if there are other questions that I can try to help with.
Recipe is delicious, even though I used regular oregano and regular paprika. Thanks for making healthy into a delicious adventure 🙂
Fab! Thanks for popping back by and letting us know you enjoyed it!
Amen, sister! Thanks for sharing- I love finding others that preach diet and nutrition are life-changing! My family stood by and watched my body heal itself after a series of water fasts and changing my diet to a whole plant-based diet and I’ll never go back to the SAD (standard American diet) again!
I love your recipes, your swearing, your information, the way it is all mixed together…I love all of it, and I hope you never change!
Thank you for that – it made my Dirty day!
I loved this as I have been eating paleo lately and was looking for some good plant based ideas. I added sweet potatoes (fried with olive oil) and added a cup of frozen corn. I too used regular oregano and paprika. Thanks for the read and recipe.
I can’t wait to try this and I’ll probably make another review once I do. I’m making a burrito bowl tonight and including sautéed bell peppers, rice, corn, and I wanted to include these beans to elevate the recipe. I’m excited!
Made them for my burrito bowl and they were delicious but I accidentally used a can of diced tomatoes with habeñeros but it was amazing and really added depth to the bowl. Thank you for the recipe!
People! Her business is literally “Clean food, dirty girl”. If you all would do more research you would see that swearing is a part of her business model, and that is ok, it is her business. If ? you ? don’t ? like ? it ? move? on ?.