What do you eat on the whole food plant-based diet (WFPB)?

When my wife and I decided to change the way we ate, we had a hard time explaining to friends and family what the hell we could eat. Were we vegetarians? Yeah, but stricter than that. Were we vegans? Sort of, but not really. We follow the whole food plant-based diet (WFPB). That’s indeed a mouthful, and to your average meat-a-saurus, it’s eyeroll-inducing. To them it sounds weird and complicated.

Welcome to the world of labels and acronyms. There’s WFPB, WFPBNO (NO stands for no oil), and so many more. I swear at least once a week I learn a new one in plant-based Facebook groups. I’ll quickly define the most common:

Vegetarian — Doesn’t eat meat. Still eats dairy products, oil, and processed foods.

Pescatarian — Vegetarians who also eat fish and seafood.

Vegan — Only eats things that come from plants. May still eat oil and processed foods. Veganism extends past eating though. Vegans don’t use animal products whatsoever and don’t use products tested on animals or that cause harm to animals.

Plant-based diet— Only eats things that come from plants. No meat, no dairy. May still eat oil and processed foods.

Whole food plant-based (WFPB) — Only eats things that come from plants. No meat, no dairy. Severely limits added oils and processed foods.

Whole food plant-based no oil (WFPBNO) — Only eats things that come from plants. No meat, no dairy. No added oils and no processed foods. Super strict diet.

So although I strive to be as WFPBNO as I can, I find it quite difficult, especially when eating out or at others’ houses. If I’m cooking, it’s much easier to be WFPBNO though. However, unless you have access to oil-free breads, never use meat substitutes like meatless crumbles, veggie burgers or meatballs in a pinch, and never use cooking spray, the “NO” is a tough thing to obtain at the end of your diet acronym.

So what do I tell people who ask me what I eat? I’ve found the easiest thing to say to those who are unfamiliar with the above definitions is “plant-based and no oil.” That seems to be relatively simple to understand. I always welcome clarifying questions though, especially for someone interested in accommodating our diet. “No meat, no dairy, no oil.” This will almost always invoke some variation of “Then what can you eat? Salad?”

“Yeah, but I’m not a big salad person.” Cue the puzzled look.

At this point, it’s easier to tell people a few things you do eat, rather than what you don’t eat. People aren’t intuitively creative, so they need some suggestions to spark their thought process. Veggie burgers, grilled vegetables, brown rice, portobello sandwiches, etc. I try to mention things people already eat in their own diets so they can relate and give you that, “oh, ok!” But if someone is truly interested in more detail or is asking because they’re planning a dinner for you, it’s always encouraged to point them to KevCooksPlants.com for some inspiration!

But… since I’m a total smart-ass, I’ll usually start with, “Well I normally just shape a block of tofu into whatever kind of meat I’m craving and eat that.”


  1. Joel Mandel says:

    Kevin, I’m new to PBWF. Your enthusiasm is contagious. But I have a problem. On both Firefox and Safari in OS X, your Recipes scroll slightly to the left and make the first couple of letters invisible. I thought you’d want to know.

  2. KevCooksPlants says:

    Hi Joel, thanks for the feedback. I’ll take a look. I normally write from a Mac using Chrome, but I’ll check the other browsers to see how it looks.

    • KevCooksPlants says:

      Hi Joel, I tested this today on both Firefox and Safari and could not recreate the issue you’re seeing. All of the recipes I visited showed up fine. Sorry, I wish I could be of more help!

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