Why Does Everything on the WFPB Diet Taste The Same? F— This, I’m Quitting!

This is a question I hear a lot from people who are new to the whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet. To be honest, I encountered the same thing — many recipes seem to have similar ingredients or similar spices. If you’re finding that to be true, then it may just be that your plant-based recipe collection is in need of improvement.

Like I mentioned, I went through the same thing when I transitioned to plant-based. And when I hear other people having the same complaint, I find that they’re probably stuck at number four in what I call the “plant-based conversion process.”

Step 1: First exposure to the plant-based diet. This could be via one of the many popular documentaries out there, like Forks Over Knives or What the Health. It could also be from trying out one of the plant-based burgers that are growing in popularity, such as the Impossible burger or Beyond burger. Or maybe it’s through word of mouth from a friend or even your doctor.

Step 2: Research. Once you’re made aware of the plant-based diet and its benefits, it’s likely you’ll do your own Google or YouTube investigation. You’ll check out websites dedicated to the lifestyle or video testimonials of people who have transitioned to plant-based and had amazing results. You may even watch another documentary or two. At this point, a budding plant-based dieter is born, inspired, and building momentum.

Step 3: Decision made. You’ve done your research and you’ve made the decision to switch to a plant-based diet in order to save yourself, or to save animals, or the planet, or maybe a mix of all three.

Step 4: Gather up recipe books. At this stage, you’re trying to figure out what you’re going to eat. You probably hate tofu (that will likely change). You’re not a huge fan of salads, or at least you don’t want to eat one at every meal, even though people think that’s all we eat. So you start crushing your Amazon Prime account and order 3 or 4 cookbooks that you notice are popular or sound familiar, like Forks Over Knives, Engine 52, or the China Study. Two days later, your cookbooks arrive and you start making meatless meals you never dreamed you’d be eating. Two months later, you’ve burned through your cookbooks and made everything that sounded edible, and realize that so many of the things you’ve been making taste the same, have similar ingredients, and/or have similar spice combinations. At least half of your recipes are super bland or are either burgers, variations of Mexican food, or Indian dishes. WHY IS THAT?

I’m really not one to go around bashing other people’s cookbooks, but many of the books designed for plant-based beginners are really basic and lack variety. The meals are simple — that’s a good thing — but so are the flavors. I find that the majority of these recipe collections are lacking in spices or using the same spices over and over. And my goodness, it’s like they have stock in nutritional yeast companies!

So what I tend to do is stay away from the cookbooks that are designed for the WFPB diet, and stick to vegan cookbooks if I’m buying any at all. The main difference is that vegan cookbooks will have recipes that use oil or other processed ingredients. But if you already understand how to cook without oil, it’s super easy to make whatever necessary substitutions you need to convert vegan recipes to WFPB.

It may be as simple as sautéing in water, broth, or wine instead of oil. Or maybe the vegan recipe has store-bought vegan cheese in it and you can substitute it with Instant Pot Cheese Sauce or WFPB Parmesan instead.

Sure, there are times where converting a vegan recipe might be really difficult because of the number of unhealthy ingredients the author calls for, but in the long run, extending your possible recipe sources from the narrow scope of WFPB to all the vegan cookbook resources out there will benefit you immensely. You’ll be exposed to so many more amazing dishes that just need a tweak or two to make them whole food, plant-based compliant.

Now go out there and find a new dish you love!

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2 Comments

  1. Cindy Jones says:

    I love the way you tell it like it is! And you state what all of us WFPB eaters are REALLY thinking!
    I really enjoy your posts!

    • KevCooksPlants says:

      No fluff here, Cindy! KCP is all about real people and feeding real families. Thanks for the feedback — I love to hear from readers!

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