10 Plant-Based Whole30 Recipes (And More About Whole30 Vegan Eating)

Whole30 vs plant based diet

The standard Whole30 program is a 30-day “reset” plan focused on eating whole, simple foods, such as meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, natural fats, herbs, spices, and seasonings. For 30 days you eliminate added sugars and sweeteners, alcohol, grains, most legumes and beans, packaged and processed snacks and sweets, and foods with artificial additives and preservatives. Many people say that Whole30 has a strong emphasis on animal-based foods (meat, poultry, seafood, and animal-based fats), which is why a Plant-Based Whole30 program is different. Read on to learn more about the plant-based version of the Whole30 program.

Table of Contents

What is Plant-Based Whole30 or Whole 30 Vegetarian?

A plant-based Whole30 program emphasizes whole, simple foods, just like the original plan. However, for 30 days, you also eliminate any animal-based foods and fats, replacing them with whole-food sources of plant-based protein and plant-based fats. The program is set up in two phases: In phase one (the first 30 days), you eat plant-based protein sources, lots of vegetables and fruit, and natural plant-based fats. In phase two, which lasts for the next 6+ days, you reintroduce animal-based foods.

Whole30 vs plant based diet

What is allowed on the Plant-Based Whole30 Program?

These food categories are allowed on the plant-based Whole30 program:

  • Fruits – all types of fruits are allowed, including berries, citrus, apples, pears, avocado, apricots, peaches, bananas, mangos, and more
  • Vegetables – enjoy all varieties of vegetables, from non-starchy options like carrots, celery, tomatoes, zucchini, and peppers, to starchy veggies like sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, beets, and butternut squash. Also enjoy mushrooms, asparagus, leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, and more
  • Beans, legumes, lentils, and peas – while this category is eliminated from the standard Whole30 program, beans and legumes are nutritious starchy foods that are allowed on the Plant Based Whole30 program to supply plant-based protein and fiber
  • Nuts and seeds – enjoy all types of nuts and seeds, as well as nut and seed butters that don’t have added sugars
  • Natural plant-based fats – think plant-based fats, like olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil as your main fats
  • Herbs, spices, and seasonings – use herbs, spices, and seasonings to amp up the flavor in foods
  • Plant-based protein powders – seek out protein powders based on pea, hemp, pumpkin, and/or chia. And look for unsweetened versions, since you’re eliminating added sugars and natural or artificial sweeteners (see our Dietitian-Recommended Plant-Based Protein Powders here).

Foods that are not allowed on plant-based Whole30

These are the categories of foods that you eliminate for 30 days:

  • Animal-based proteins – eliminate meat and poultry, including beef, bison, lamb, chicken, turkey, wild game, pork, fish, shellfish, and eggs
  • Animal-based fats – cut out ghee, butter, lard, tallow, suet, and schmaltz
  • Highly processed soy – though you can enjoy minimally processed soy products like edamame and tofu, you’ll be avoiding more processed forms of soy, including soybean oil, textured soy protein, textured vegetable protein, soy protein isolate, and soy protein concentrates
  • Added sugars and sweeteners – eliminate all forms of added sugars and sweeteners. This also includes more natural sweeteners like maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, and date syrup, as well as natural sugar alternatives like monk fruit extract (luo han guo) and Stevia
  • Alcohol and tobacco products
  • Grains – similar to the standard Whole30, the Whole 30 vegetarian program eliminates grains. That means no wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, sprouted grains, as well as gluten-free grains like quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat
  • Dairy foods – eliminate animal-based milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, frozen yogurt, sour cream, butter, and ghee. Also avoid plant-based milks, cheeses, and yogurts that contain added sugars
Whole30 vs plant based diet

Standard Whole30 vs Plant-Based Whole30

The two biggest differences in these two similar Whole30 programs are:

  1. The plant-based Whole30 program eliminates animal-based foods and fats. That means no beef, poultry, seafood, or butter, while putting an emphasis on eating whole-food plant-based protein sources and plant-based fats
  2. The plant-based Whole30 program allows beans and legumes. Whereas foods like black beans, edamame, and lentils are not allowed on the standard Whole30 program, these foods are allowed on the Plant-Based Whole30 as a source of good-for-you plant-based protein and fiber

10 Plant-Based Whole30 Recipes

The following 10 recipes are dinners and side dishes that are compatible with the Plant Based Whole30 Program. Enjoy these Whole 30 vegetarian recipes.

Sheet-Pan Veggie Shawarma with Tahini Dressing

Inspired by the flavors of popular Mediterranean street food, you can serve this healthy veggie shawarma as is or over fresh greens, drizzled with a delicious lemon tahini dressing. To make this compatible with the Whole30 Plant-Based program, simply eliminate the small amount of maple syrup in the dressing.

Sheet Pan | 40 Minutes | Gluten Free | Vegan | Plant-Based Whole30

Vegan Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

This innovative recipe features a creamy sauce made from carrots and potatoes plus nutritional yeast, non-dairy milk, and spices. Mix it with tender cauliflower and a delicious ‘breadcrumb’ topping made from almond flour and spices. It all comes together for a Plant-Based Whole30-friendly mac and cheese that the whole family will enjoy together.

Stovetop-Oven | 1 Hour | Gluten Free | Vegan | Plant-Based Whole30

Green Chile Stew with Beans

Made easily in the slower cooker with a base of delicious Great Northern beans, plus salsa verde, potatoes, and lime-forward flavor. This Vegan Green Chile Stew with Beans is a cozy recipe you’ll enjoy while doing the Plant-Based Whole30 program. Top hearty bowls with ample avocado, jalapeño, and cilantro.

Slow Cooker | 4 hours (high) or 8 hours (low) | Vegan | Plant-Based Whole30

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

You can never go wrong with a casserole that gets topped with creamy mashed potatoes. ⁠But what’s below the surface of this Vegan Shepherd’s Pie is just as special as the topping. A tender and flavorful lentil gravy loaded with veggies awaits you there. ⁠To make this plant-based recipe compatible with the Whole 30 Vegetarian Program, simply use arrowroot powder or tapioca starch instead of cornstarch to thicken the filling.

Stovetop-Oven | 1 Hr, 30 Minutes | GlutenFree | Vegan | Plant-Based Whole30

Vegan Alfredo Sauce over Roasted Veggies

Though you won’t be serving this creamy 100% plant-based alfredo sauce over standard pasta while doing the Plant-Based Whole30 program, you will absolutely LOVE it served over roasted veggies, zoodles, or strands of cooked spaghetti squash. Made from a base of cashews, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice, this creamy sauce is just the thing to provide a nutritious comfort dish you’re craving.

No-Cook | 35 Minutes | Gluten Free | Vegan | Plant-Based Whole30

Slow Cooker Vegan Chili with Lentils

You may be craving a bowl of hearty beefy chili while doing the Plant-Based Whole30 program, but not to worry. This satisfying vegan chili made with lentils is thick, delicious, and full of comforting flavors. Plus, it provides 11 grams of plant-based protein and 9 grams of heart-smart fiber per bowl.

Slow Cooker | 4 hours (high) or 8 hours (low) | Vegan | Plant-Based Whole30

Cauliflower Buffalo Bites

When you just want wings, make these crispy, delicious, plant-based Buffalo Bites made from Cauliflower. Make them with a Whole30-friendly Buffalo Sauce (Note: use coconut oil or olive oil in place of the ghee in the sauce). Dip them in a dairy-free, egg-free ranch, such as this Dairy-free Ranch made with a vegan mayonnaise. Or this purchased vegan ranch.

Sheet Pan | 30 Minutes | Gluten Free | Dairy Free | Plant-Based Whole30

Whole30 vs plant based diet

Garlic Roasted Radishes

Fresh radishes in shades of pinks, reds, whites, and purples are a beautiful and welcoming sign of spring. This recipe for Garlic Roasted Radishes is one of our favorite ways to serve this often forgotten vegetable. And we’re quite sure it will ignite your tastebuds while doing the Plant-Based Whole30 program. Just use coconut oil or olive oil instead of butter and serve with a vegan ranch, if desired.

Oven Baked | 25 Minutes | Gluten Free | Vegan | Plant-Based Whole30

Easy Fried Plantains

Fried plantains are an unexpectedly delicious side dish with their crispy exterior and soft, creamy insides. Try them as a side dish instead of sweet potatoes or add to a salad for a dose of healthy carbohydrates. Choose plantains that are yellow with black spots if you want them on the sweeter side, or choose yellow to light green plantains for a more savory option.

Stovetop | 20 Minutes | Gluten Free | Vegan | Plant-Based Whole30

Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts

Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, this no-fail recipe for Brussels sprouts in the air fryer is good every time. Serve them as an appetizer or side dish with our easy-to-make chipotle-lime aioli sauce. To make the sauce compatible with Plant-Based Whole30, use vegan mayonnaise, such as Sir Kensington’s or Primal Kitchen Vegan Mayonnaise.

Air Fryer | 25 Minutes | Gluten Free | Vegan | Plant-Based Whole30

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— Update: 16-03-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article The Problem with the Latest Popular Diets (Paleo, Whole30, Vegan) from the website www.huffpost.com for the keyword whole30 vs plant based diet.

Whole30 vs plant based diet

When you write an article about the problem with uber popular diets like Paleo, Whole30, and Vegan, you know you’re going to hit some nerves, so let me start off by saying that in theory, I think we can all agree that the basis of all three of these diets is fairly good.

For those that aren’t super clear on the difference between them, let me take a minute to clarify each.

Eating “Paleo” means that you eat whole, minimally processed foods, including meat, seafood, eggs, veggies, fruit, natural sugars like honey, and fat from whole food sources like avocado and nuts. No grains, legumes, added sugars, and limited dairy are allowed.

When Paleo first became popular, this list was it, but these days there are a lot more Paleo packaged goods on the shelves, like breads and even cookie dough, if you can believe that.

Whole30 is pretty much a hardcore version of Paleo, where you remove all dairy, all sugar (even honey), coffee, and grains for 30 days. The point of Whole30 is to cleanse and reset your body.

Vegan primarily just means that you don’t eat meat or animal products, so no meat, fish, dairy, eggs, or cheese.

Like I mentioned, in theory, these sound pretty healthy right? I mean, all three include mostly whole foods, lots of veggies, fruits, and nutrient-rich foods that fuel the body.

But here’s where the problem lies.

When we label ourselves and we assign ourselves to a strict set of rules that somebody else created, we put ourselves into a box.

Now, there are certain circumstances where it makes sense to eliminate food groups from one’s diet, i.e. people that have been diagnosed with Celiac disease or severe food allergies.

However, in most cases, for most people, the likelihood that you will eat sugar, grains, or dairy again is probably high. Right?

So what happens when you create these rigid good and bad food lists for yourself… if you can’t stick to them?

What happens if you go out to dinner with friends and you “slip up” and have a few bites of dessert or bread?

You feel bad. You may even feel guilt or shame because you failed.

Side note, I actually know several people who were Vegan for a LONG time and then suddenly their body began to crave meat. And I have heard the opposite happen too. Imagine what that might do to your identity, especially if you are someone who is an influencer who publicly has labeled yourself as one or the other?

I am about to make a very big statement…

I personally believe that THIS guilt and shame that we feel when we can’t follow all of the “food rules” is a big part of the root cause of obesity in our society today.

The health and fitness industry is a $60 Billion industry. There are a plethora of diet and fitness programs to choose from, yet obesity is still on the rise, now even in children.

I believe that it’s not that we don’t have the “right” food or fitness plan for people to follow. It’s that we are conditioned into believing that health and fitness is black and white, and if we can’t measure up and follow ALL of the rigid rules, then we are a failure.

We believe that in order to be successful, we have to go from A to Z overnight because all we see on television are quick-fix diets and massive 7, 10, or 14-day weight loss transformations.

What we don’t see is what happens after that quick-fix diet. Many of those overnight success story people don’t maintain the results.

And we don’t realize that the majority of the messaging we are receiving from the media is actually purposely trying to keep us stuck cycling in this obsession of trying to find the next best thing that will finally get us to be able to follow a super strict plan.

Willpower is not the problem, the deprivation mindset is the problem.

We have been told that a strict plan is the only way to reach our goals. But the truth is, the vast majority of us will never be able to follow a strict plan long-term. It’s just not realistic.

And if you can relate, I want to tell you that it’s not your fault and YOU are not a failure. It’s time to let go of the guilt and shame that you may have been feeling for years for not being able to “measure up” and “follow the rules.”

When has resorting to extremes and restriction ever worked? Sure you may be able to follow the strict plan for 7, 21, or even 30 days but then what happens?

Yes, of course nutrient-packed whole foods are important for our health, but rigidity, black and white dogma, and all-or-nothing type thinking is not a long-term solution.

Baby steps practiced consistently over time are what add up to long-term sustainable positive change.

In order to achieve lasting positive change, you must give yourself permission to break free of the lure of the quick-fix overnight results and instead give yourself some time to take action, analyze how things go, and then make adjustments.

This is how to baby-step your way toward long-term sustainable change.

Step 1: Structure + Freedom

I tell my clients that we want to create some structure to help you to feel safe, which then allows you to experiment and “play” with freedom.

What does this mean?

It means thinking back to what HAS worked well for you in the past and then design some guidelines (not rigid rules) for yourself based on that.

Maybe you mostly enjoy a Paleo style of eating but you like to incorporate some grains too. Maybe for you, it’s not about choosing a style of eating, but you want to begin by simply drinking more water. Maybe you love sweets like me, so you decide that you’re going to mostly eat whole food meals, but every night you have dessert because you enjoy it so much.

I could give you a hundred different ideas on what that might look like, but if it’s not a match for your lifestyle and preferences, then it’s never going to work for you. This is where you truly have to tune IN vs just follow along with someone else’s rules.

Step 2: Set Mini Goals

This is where the “Act, Analyze, Adjust” comes in. Set small, baby-step goals for yourself. Don’t try to go from A to Z, just take the next logical step in the direction of a healthy choice.

Maybe that is bringing a healthy homemade lunch to work 3 days a week instead of going out to lunch everyday. Maybe that is shooting for 48 ounces of water a day instead of your usual 16 ounces. Again, you get to decide.

Then, once you have a few days under your belt, ask yourself how it feels. When you notice that you are able to keep up this habit without a lot of focus or attention, then you can add the next baby-step. Or if you notice that you need to make adjustments, you can do that as well.

STEP 3: Stop Trying to Measure Up

This is sometimes the toughest part of all, because we are SO inundated with information all the time about all of the “things” we “should” be doing.

It’s fine to read articles (like this one) or research, but at the end of the day, YOU are your ultimate health expert. You know YOU best, so you must give yourself permission to design the healthy lifestyle plan that is going to make sense for you — your lifestyle, your preferences, AND your goals.

Read more  6 Side Effects Of Healthy Eating That Nobody Tells You About

I promise, an unhappy (shame and guilt-filled) journey never leads to a happy ending. In order to achieve your health and fitness goals, you must take your power back, get honest with yourself, and guide yourself first and foremost, from within.

That’s the key to long-term sustainability and happiness too!

Have you felt this way too? I’d love for you to leave me a comment below and join the conversation.

Want more? Click here to sign up and get immediate access to my free video series on how to break free from yo-yo dieting and self-sabotage so you can ROCK your dream body and feel amazing in you skin.

Learn more about Sheila and her coaching at: sheilaviers.com/about


— Update: 16-03-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article I Tried the Brand New Plant-Based Whole30 — Here’s What I Discovered from the website cleanplates.com for the keyword whole30 vs plant based diet.

When I was first given the opportunity to do the new Plant-Based Whole30 as part of a beta test group, I was excited for the challenge and seriously ready for a change in diet. Over the holidays, I’d been eating with all the mindfulness of a rat rooting around in a Coney Island dumpster, so I was ready to spend a month focusing on fresh fruits and vegetables. I was also feeling fairly cocky about my ability to stick to a plant-based diet because I was vegan for a couple years in my early 20s, and still regularly use vegan cooking staples like nutritional yeast and tempeh. Of course, just like the Original Whole30, the Plant-Based Whole30 isn’t just a vegan program — it’s also an elimination diet. This means:

No grains.

No added sugar.

No alcohol.

For a

Which means this program also requires that you go quinoa-, oat-, and maple syrup-free — which makes this a challenge within a challenge, in my opinion: A matryoshka doll of diet challenges. I wanted to reset my relationship with food, however, so this was a great way to be mindful about it. Plus, I had the good fortune to check in with Whole30 co-founder herself, Melissa Urban, a couple of times and she had some great tips for making this experience way more sustainable (including a seriously solid product recommendation, shared below). Here’s what I discovered on the Plant-Based Whole30. Hopefully my experience will help you determine if the Plant-Based Whole30 is a good fit for you, too. 

I (weirdly) didn’t really miss alcohol

I definitely thought the “no booze for 30 days” rule would be the hardest part. I don’t tend to drink a but I do drink very regularly: If I’m cooking a big dinner, I’ll almost certainly have a glass of wine while cooking, then a glass with the meal. If I’m out with friends, I’ll usually have a couple of cocktails — you get the idea. But drinking turned out to be the easiest habit to break. There was one evening when I made a really great, spicy curry that would have been fantastic with a beer, and I felt a genuine craving for it. But otherwise, hitting the pause button on booze was super easy, and definitely helped me reset my relationship with alcohol. 

Read next: This Quick Pickled Shiitake Recipe Is an Immunity-Boosting Treat

After meals, I felt satisfied but not lethargic

You know that sluggish, too-full feeling you get after wolfing down a big, heavy meal? I didn’t experience that during the Plant-Based Whole30. And that’s not to say I didn’t eat well or as much as I wanted to — I never felt hungry after a meal. But after eating a dinner like roasted stuffed butternut squash, shawarma cauliflower steak, or smoky tempeh quiche, I always felt fantastic.

I started off with brain fog and lower energy…

I’m going to be real with you: I lost IQ points during the first week of the program. At work, I would stare at my laptop screen with the reading comprehension skills of a gazelle. On my way to the gym, I accidentally left my keys on the kitchen counter. Twice. I lost my cell phone repeatedly, which is not like me… basically, my brain was just not working right. As it turns out, that was my fault, not the fault of the Whole30: Despite my best efforts, I wasn’t getting nearly enough protein to support myself. 

…and then I discovered pea protein

This was a game-changer. I started putting two scoops of pea protein into my post-workout smoothie, and all of a sudden, my brain was back. I’d been pretty careful to include protein in every meal (tofu for breakfast, chickpeas for lunch, nuts for snacks, etc.), but it just wasn’t enough — and before I get a bunch of DMs informing me that I don’t need that much protein, allow me to explain: I keep to a weightlifting routine and really do need to hit a certain amount of protein per day, lest my muscles start eating themselves. 

Read next: 9 Recipes That Help You Gain Muscle (Which Helps You Burn Fat)

So pea protein was a godsend. I started off with the organic pea protein from Trader Joe’s, but to be honest, it was kind of clumpy and didn’t taste great. Then I switched to this other version, and it was much better. Then Whole30 founder Melissa Urban recommended this pea protein, which is so great that I’m sticking to it after the Whole30 is up because I like it so much. 

My skin purged (then started glowing)

I got the biggest, most painful pimple of my life in the middle of my forehead. It took countless acne patches and four full days to make that thing go away, but when it did, my skin looked fantastic. Was this due to the lack of drying alcohol in my system? An uptick in fruit and vegetable consumption? Unclear, but exceptionally healthy skin was definitely a side effect of this diet for me. 

I found some amazing new recipes

I already eat a pretty healthy, plant-forward diet, so I was not expecting to discover so many incredible new recipes, but I absolutely did. I wrote about a bunch of my favorite recipes from this past month, but I also want to note that roasted sunchokes were a major MVP — who knew? You can just cut them up and roast them on a baking sheet with olive oil, salt, and pepper until they’re easily pierced with a fork. They taste kind of like a cross between artichokes and French fries, and I love them.

Some products made the journey much tastier healthier

I want to give a shoutout to a handful of my very favorite products I discovered during this month of plant-based, grain-free, sugar-free eating. 

Masala Mama

Their simmer sauces are phenomenal, and Masala Mama has three new ones debuting shortly (Cashew Tikka, Boom Boom Curry, and Almond Korma — I’ve gotten a sneak preview, and yes, they’re all excellent). Basically, this is how you use simmer sauces: Throw whatever vegetables and proteins you want onto a saucepan, then simmer them up in the sauce, and voila, there you have it, a really tasty dinner made with basically zero effort. I’d often heat up a can of rinsed chickpeas, mushrooms, carrots, and green beans in the Coconut Curry sauce, then serve over cauliflower rice. Delicious, healthy, filling, fast: everything you want in a weeknight dinner. 

Artisana Nut Butter

Before I discovered Artisana, I thought that all nut butters that contained just nuts and salt were pretty much interchangeable. Oh, how wrong I was. Artisana makes the best nut butters I’ve ever tried, hands-down. They’re just extra creamy and richly flavored. My favorites were the almond butter, pecan butter, and hemp and brazil nut butter blend.

Kite Hill Cream Cheese

Kite Hill makes a lot of great, vegan products, but in my opinion, the cream cheese is the MVP. Unlike a lot of other vegan cream cheeses I’ve tried, it has that yogurt-adjacent tang, rather than just a mimic of creaminess. I love it in a sweet potato with some spiced nut clusters as a snack.  

Big Tree Farms Coconut Aminos

How have I never used coconut aminos before now? I’ve used a lot of shoyu and tamari over the years, but somehow never had the opportunity to try coconut aminos. I love the flavor. And paired with garlic and onion, it makes me less mad at cauliflower rice for not being rice. 

Daily Harvest

I kept Daily Harvest on hand for those days when I just didn’t have it in me to cook. This ended up being great for two reasons: Daily Harvest is both healthier and less expensive than delivery. My go-to dishes are the brussels sprouts and tahini harvest bowl, gigante bean and artichoke olio bake, and the kale and sweet potato flatbread. Love.

I started waking up with more energy

With the Whole30, you’re supposed to pay attention to and celebrate “non-scale victories,” which is a mentality that I think we could all stand to shift into. One of my favorite non-scale victories: I started to wake up earlier, and felt way more energetic when I did. I’ve always been a morning person, but now I’m a morning person who’s actually really productive, not just awake.

Read next: 10 Vegan Recipes That Support Your Plant-Based Whole30  

Dining out was basically impossible…

I emailed with half a dozen different vegan restaurants, and because the Plant-Based Whole30 is so very strict, they all offered me the same options a steak house would (“Uhh, I guess we could grill you some vegetables?”). So if you’re used to eating a lot of take-out or dining out a lot, you’ll need to accept that this won’t be an option for a thirty-day period — which turns out to have its own benefits. 

…but I learned new ways to socialize

Did you know that you can spend time with your friends and family snacks or drinks? The thought had honestly never even occurred to me. But during this month, I met up with friends to visit museums, go for walks, check out some comedy shows, and see a few bands perform. I would have loved to stay for an oyster happy hour, of course, but it turns out, I could enjoy myself just fine without it. 

All in all, the Plant-Based Whole30 was a great reset — and while I’m looking forward to carefully reintegrating some foods back into my life (steak, tuna, and scallops come to mind), there’s one ingredient I’m not planning on reintegrating anytime soon: added sugar. I’ve found that I’m really happy not having sugar highs and crashes, and because I’ve gone so long without sweets, my sugar cravings have completely vanished, which feels fantastic. 

Read next: These Are the Best Anti-Inflammatory Drinks, According to Dietitians

— Update: 16-03-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article I Tried the First Plant-Based Whole30 Program and Here’s What Happened  from the website vegnews.com for the keyword whole30 vs plant based diet.

This March 1 marks the first official date of the Plant-Based Whole30 program. The original Whole30 Diet has steadily grown in popularity since its inception in 2009 and bestselling companion book, The Whole30, but up until now, it has been virtually impossible to participate as a vegan (no legumes, no grains, no soy … no way). Co-creator Melissa Hartwig Urban has fielded vegan and vegetarian inquiries for years, all leading up to a full-fledged Whole30 protocol with animal-free at its core. I took on the challenge of this new elimination diet for the month of January 2022. Honestly, I didn’t realize what I committed to when I nonchalantly replied “Sure!” to the initial email, but I’m not one to ever back down. Did I experience any significant “non-scale victories,” banish my Sugar Dragon, or apply some of the learnings into my permanent diet? If you’re curious about attempting Plant-Based Whole30 when it begins on March 1, here’s a glimpse into what to expect and how I—trial of one—fared. 

Whole30 vs plant based dietAbbot’s Butcher

The Plant-Based Whole30 rules

The goal of Whole30 is to reset the food habits that are not serving you. By way of eliminating a swath of food categories, it may also help you identify foods that make you feel sub-optimal. For example, you may not have celiac disease, but you could still be sensitive to gluten. The program’s forbidden foods include all animal products, all grains (including rice, oats, quinoa, wheat, etc), highly processed forms of soy (oil, TVP, soy flour, soy isolates, etc.), all real and artificial sugar (cane sugar, maple syrup, agave, stevia, coconut nectar, etc.), alcohol, and carrageenan and added sulfites. 

When you eliminate these foods, you’re left with legumes, minimally processed soy such as tempeh and tofu, nuts and seeds, natural plant-based fats, whole forms of plant-based protein powder, and produce. Yes, there is a significant amount of variation within these categories, but when you start to realize almost every product contains something from the “No” list, it can seem limiting. Personally, I had a hard time grappling with the fact that I couldn’t have my soy latte for a month. Sure, coffee is allowed, but the soy milk baristas use contains added sugar. I grudgingly got used to black pour-overs. 

The Whole30 experts explain 

When I read the list of “No” foods, my frustration grew as I realized all the familiar foods I would have to give up. No vegan sushi (rice and sugar), no peanut sauce (sugar), no seaweed salad (sugar), no baking (too many “No” items to count). What is so wrong with rice? A touch of maple syrup here or there? I reached out to the Whole30 lead dietitian and co-creator, Stephanie Greunke, politely demanding an explanation. 

“The Whole30 eliminates food groups that have been shown in the scientific literature and our clinical experience to be commonly problematic (to varying degrees) across a broad range of people,” Greunke explained. “These food groups are eliminated due to the potential impact they might be having on your digestive system, metabolic health, inflammation, and cravings.”

As a person who does suffer from baffling gastrointestinal distress (I’ve taken food sensitivity tests, allergy tests, underwent a colonoscopy and several ultrasounds, plus enough bloodwork throughout the years to supply a Red Cross for at least a day), I know that food can mess with you. However, the foods that trigger me (potatoes, cauliflower, fermented foods, beans, plus a handful of unidentified culprits) were not on the elimination list, whereas benign foods (rice and natural sweeteners) were forbidden to me for 30 days. I’m aware each individual has a special snowflake of a gut microbiome, but please, show me the scientific literature behind the atrocities of rice and scant amounts of natural sweetener. As you can probably tell, I’m still hung up about not being able to have my vegan sushi. 

I bring this up not to be snarky, but to prepare you. You will likely be frustrated that you cannot have a food or foods you know are “safe” to you. Before you begin, either come to terms with that or find a way to grin and bear it for 30 days. 

I was also curious about the 30-day time limit. Hartwig Urban said, “There’s no magic in the number, but it is based on habit research and accessibility. You may have heard ‘it takes 21 days for a habit to stick,’ [I had] but that’s grossly oversimplified. For emotionally complex habits … it can take many months for that habit to truly stick. The true average is closer to 66 days, but we settled on 30 because it’s long enough for participants to experience remarkable benefits, but not so long that people feel like it’s too hard to stick to it.” 

Whole30 vs plant based dietWhole30

How did I feel on Plant-Based Whole30?

Whole30 participants are given dozens of signs to look out for. They call these “non-scale victories.” Sideline: in addition to eliminating certain foods, you’re also banned from stepping on a scale. It’s not a weight loss diet. 

The non-scale victories are divided into physical and mental/behavioral. The physical includes improved digestion, less gastrointestinal issues, more energy, less stiff joints, less inflammation, glowing skin, brighter eyes, fewer migraines, and less sickness, among others. On the mental side, we were told to look out for: feeling happier, less stressed, improved mental health, fewer cravings, tamed Sugar Dragon, and overall a healthier relationship with food. 

Due to my yet undiagnosed gastrointestinal issues, I don’t feel great most days. Some are far worse than others. During my Plant-Based Whole30 journey, I experienced as many bad days over the course of the month as I typically do. My digestion did not improve, nor did I notice any changes in my outward appearance or general disposition. And before you ask: no, I did not “cheat.” 

Did I give up my beloved baking projects, ritualistic daily soy latte, and friendly faces at my favorite vegan restaurants (shoutout to Kensho and Sura Korean BBQ) for nothing? Not quite. I will concede that three things worked in my favor. 

1 I fell in love with new vegan brands

I am not one to impulse buy. When I walk into a Whole Foods, I generally walk out with the items I had in mind, nothing extra. This was not the case in January. In search for Whole30 Approved alternatives, I scanned the aisles, overturning boxing to read ingredient lists or looking for the helpful Whole30 label. My hand instantly reached out when I saw that glorious label. After a skim through the ingredients to ensure the product was vegan (not all Whole30 brands are), I took a moment to think: will this enhance my steamed vegetables and air-fried tofu? If the answer was “yes,” it often went into my cart. Despite the fact that these products were free from grains, sugar, and generally processed foods, most of them I would buy again. I had heard of Siete but never tried them. I always walked by the long condiment aisle of never-ending sauces and marinades. But Siete, Noble Made, Artisana Organics, SeaSnax, and Abbot’s Butcher have made it into my kitchen staples. If it weren’t for my elimination diet-deprived state, I likely never would have tried these brands. Let me tell you: Artisana’s cashew butter is worth every penny.

2 I saved money

Speaking of cashew butter, yes, it is significantly more expensive than peanut butter. In fact, many of these “nice to have” products are upwards of $5-$13. However, I saved money overall. The meals I made at home were humble. I merely gussied up produce, beans, kelp noodles, and tofu with these condiments (and supplemented with a few Siete cassava flour tortillas). I also drastically cut back on dining out. It wasn’t hard, as very few restaurants offer Whole30 Approved options. Under normal circumstances, I would eat out at least three to four times a week. Under Whole30, I ate out four times for the entire month. I visited Chipotle once for its Whole30 Approved vegan lifestyle bowl with plant-based chorizo (good stuff), a raw restaurant called Under the Sun in Long Beach, CA; and twice frequented vegan Orange County institution Au Lac. All of these menus offered something satisfying that was also Whole30 compliant, but truth be told, I also really enjoyed the meals I was creating at home—thanks to a few fancy products mentioned above. Overall, I was way under budget compared to my typical monthly food expenditure, and I consider that a win. 

Read more  Healthy Cabbage Soup {Low Cal, GF, Paleo}

3 I realized my Sugar Dragon was more like a lizard

If you’re familiar with the great Disney animation, Mulan, you may recall the scene where Mushu pretends to be the Great Stone Dragon. Skeptically, Mulan picks him up with her fingers and says, “My ancestors sent me a lizard?” and Mushu replies, “Dragon. I don’t do that tongue thing.” That’s how I felt after doing Whole30 for a few days. I have a raging, fire-spitting sweet tooth, but I discovered that it’s not as powerful as I thought. I still satisfied my dessert needs with apples and nut butter or a handful of jumbo golden raisins and peanuts, but I did not crave cake like I thought I would. Major win. 

Whole30 vs plant based diet

Tips for completing Plant-Based Whole30

Some people incorporate Whole30 into an annual routine. Many will participate at least once or a few times a year. I don’t believe I will repeat the program, but for all my hemming and hawing, I don’t regret doing it. If you are thinking of giving it a go come March 1, here are five tips to having the best experience possible. 

1 Commit

The entire concept of an elimination diet revolves around the complete eradication of potential trigger foods. If you cheat or have “just a little bit,” it’s difficult to identify the foods that make you feel less-than-fantastic. This is not a program for those who do best with moderation—it is a rip-the-band-aid-off, cold Tofurky deal. If a month-long commitment scares you (I was anxious about it for weeks), tell yourself you will do it for one week. Then one more week. Then another. Then another. I thought I would stop at two weeks, but my stubbornness kicked in and I held on. It is better to commit for a shorter period of time than to follow the protocol incorrectly. 

2 Plan ahead

Before you start, get an idea of what meals you will prepare and what products you will buy. Without this preparation, you may wake up on the first day and realize there is nothing you can eat for breakfast. Allow the “rules” to sink in beforehand so you’re not frustrated during your first grocery shop, rolling your eyes at all the labels with stray amounts of sugar or wheat gluten. 

3 Look away

Don’t torture yourself. It’s not fun to scroll through Instagram and see a three-layer chocolate fudge cake when you’re only a week into Whole30. Unfollow the accounts that make you drool, and supplement your feed with cute vegan animal accounts. This goes for television, too. Record your favorite food shows and save them for February. 

4 Talk (or complain) about it

Whether you’re chatting up the incredible benefits you’ve experienced or bemoaning the fact that you can’t have pizza, let your friends, family, and co-workers know you’re doing Whole30. This will keep you accountable and further committed. Bonus points for convincing them to try Whole30 with you in solidarity. 

5 Ease out slowly

While the elimination protocol lasts 30 days, Whole30 is actually a 36-40 day program. Day 31 is not a day to go all-out on all the foods you missed. You are meant to gradually transition foods back into your diet one by one. This allows you to identify any problem foods. For example, if you reintroduce gluten one day and feel off the next, that’s a clue you’re gluten-sensitive. However, it would be difficult to determine that specific trigger if you also reintroduced sugar or corn on that same day. Unfortunately, to get the most out of the program, you have to practice restraint for a few more days. Personally, my soy latte was the first thing I incorporated once my 30 days were up. The next day, I brought back rice in the form of delicious hot pot. The third day, I had cake, and it was glorious. 

— Update: 18-03-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article The Science Behind the Plant-Based Whole30 from the website whole30.com for the keyword whole30 vs plant based diet.

Introducing Whole30’s newest offering, the comprehensive Plant-Based Whole30® program. We hope those of you who are currently vegan or vegetarian are excited for a program that offers the same life-changing benefits without any animal products! The Plant-Based Whole30 is also perfect if you’ve done the Original Whole30, and want to evaluate how a plant-based diet might work for you in comparison.

In this article, we’ll share the background on our new Plant-Based Whole30 program, the science behind our recommendations, how this program differs from the Original Whole30,  how to complete and troubleshoot a Plant-Based Whole30, and how to know if this new program is right for you.

What is the Plant-Based Whole30?

The Plant-Based Whole30 combines the benefits of an elimination diet with the science of behavior change, helping you identify food sensitivities; transforming your health, habits, and relationship with food; and helping you achieve true food freedom.

The Plant-Based Whole30® program is a 100% plant-based version of our original 30-day reset, including free recipes, resources, and support designed for vegans, vegetarians, and those curious about adopting a plant-based diet. It’s the first-ever whole food plant-based elimination and reintroduction protocol that thoughtfully prioritizes plant-based proteins and supports metabolic health.

Similar to the Original Whole30, the Plant-Based Whole30 is a structured elimination and reintroduction protocol designed to reset your health, habits, and relationship with food. The premise is simple: Certain food groups could be having a negative impact on your body composition, health, and quality of life without you even realizing it. Are your energy levels inconsistent or nonexistent? Do you have aches and pains that can’t be explained by overuse or injury? Are you struggling to fall asleep, stay asleep, or wake feeling rested? Do you have some sort of condition (like skin issues, digestive ailments, migraines, allergies, or fatigue) that are holding you back from feeling your best? These symptoms may be directly related to the foods you eat—even the “healthy” stuff.

So how do you know if (and how) these foods are affecting you? Eliminate them from your diet for 30 straight days. The Plant-Based Whole30 targets food groups that scientific literature and 12 years of clinical experience have identified as commonly problematic (to varying degrees) in one of four areas—your cravings, metabolism and blood sugar regulation, digestion, and immune system. During the elimination period, you will see what life is like without these potentially problematic foods, and pay attention to how their absence might positively affect your energy, sleep, digestion, mood, attention span, self-confidence, cravings, chronic pain or fatigue, athletic performance and recovery, and any number of other symptoms or conditions. This elimination period can show you a new “normal”—a healthy baseline from which to compare.

Plant-Based Whole30 elimination: 30 days of no added sugar (real or artificial), alcohol (even for cooking), and grains (including pseudo-cereals). Because of the nature of the Plant-Based Whole30, participants by default are not consuming any animal proteins or fats.

Following the elimination phase, you will reintroduce each food group one at a time per a carefully designed schedule. You’ll then observe how your body reacts to the reintroduction of these previously eliminated foods and beverages, and compare your experience. Do your 2 p.m. energy slumps return? Does your stomach bloat? Does your face break out, your joints swell, your pain return? Do your cravings for sugar come back with a vengeance? The reintroduction period is just as important as elimination, as it shows you which specific foods are having a negative impact on how you look, feel, and perform.

Unlike any other freely-available health reset, the Plant-Based Whole30 offers two structured reintroduction approaches: one that is 100% plant-based and another which includes the reintroduction of animal protein.  You can see more details about the Plant-Based Whole30 Reintroduction protocols here.

The Plant-Based Whole30 is meant to be a short-term experiment, not a prescriptive long-term diet. We don’t believe everyone needs to (or should) eliminate all of these food groups forever! After elimination and reintroduction, you will have gained valuable insights as to which foods work well in your body and which do not. Using our follow-up book Food Freedom Forever, you’ll go on to make educated decisions about when, how often, and in what amount you can include the foods you love back in your diet in a way that is balanced, sustainable, and joyful, but still keeps you feeling as fantastic as you now know you can feel. Through the Plant-Based Whole30 protocol, you’ll be well on your way to creating a personalized, sustainable diet for YOU, and achieving true food freedom.

What Are the Benefits of the Plant-Based Whole30?

  • The Plant-Based Whole30 is a 100% plant-based protocol prioritizing whole foods.
  • It was designed by a Registered Dietitian, and endorsed by a diverse team of healthcare providers
  • The program was built on an anti-inflammatory, nutrient-dense framework, and designed with blood sugar regulation in mind.
  • Our carefully structured elimination and reintroduction protocol helps individuals learn whether they have sensitivities to commonly problematic food groups, like grains, dairy, alcohol, or added sugar, and how those sensitivities may be negatively impacting their health or symptoms.
  • For some, this program is a more budget-friendly, ethical, or culturally appropriate option compared to the Original Whole30.

What are the differences between the Plant-Based Whole30 and Original Whole30?

Both resets are intended to help you identify food sensitivities and create a personalized, sustainable diet through proven elimination and reintroduction protocols.

The two protocols are identical, encompassing a 30-day elimination and structured reintroduction period. Both plans emphasize eating adequate protein, filling your plate with vegetables and fruit, and adding healthy fats to satiety. Neither program restricts calories, nor recommends calorie counting or macro tracking. Our programs are not weight loss diets. As such, neither program allows participants to weigh themselves or take measurements during their 30-day elimination.

Both programs also focus on habit change and participants’ emotional relationships with food, encouraging mindset shifts away from diet culture and the formation of new, healthy habits during the elimination period. Because the Whole30 is also focused on tackling cravings, both programs discourage the recreation of baked goods, “foods with no brakes,” or treats with technically compatible ingredients.

Both programs are available to our community for free, with additional free resources, support via email, our Forums, and social media feeds, and free recipes.

The main differences are the program’s protein and fat sources. The Original Whole30 focuses on high-quality animal protein and encourages the use of some animal fats while eliminating legumes, including peanuts and soy. The Plant-Based Whole30 uses legumes, less-processed forms of soy, unsweetened plant-based protein powders, nuts, and seeds to provide adequate protein, and includes only plant-based fats.

Why did Whole30 create this Plant-Based reset?

Whole30’s mission is to empower humans to own their health and change their lives. While the Original Whole30 serves omnivores, we’ve always supported the vegetarians and vegans in our community. Over the years, we’ve offered plant-based shopping lists, sections for vegetarians and vegans in the 2012 book It Starts with Food and the 2015 #1 best-seller The Whole30, a Vegan Reset outlined in the 2016 book Food Freedom Forever, and additional website resources for those who wanted to be a part of the Whole30 community while still honoring their plant-based diet.

In 2020, we began discussing how to more effectively support our vegetarian, vegan, and plant-based-curious community members with a more comprehensive program. In November 2021, we conducted a survey of 1,461 Whole30’ers, and found that an astonishing 87% of omnivorous community members were interested in exploring a plant-based diet.

The Plant-Based Whole30 is the result of those conversations and community research, and the next generation of plant-based support for our community members who choose to follow a plant-based or vegan lifestyle, or are curious about these nutrition frameworks.

Will the Plant-Based Whole30 work for everyone?

It depends on what you mean by “work.” The Plant-Based Whole30 is a self-experiment designed to show you which plant-based food groups may or may not be right for you. If you have a poor experience during the elimination phase–with lethargy, digestive issues, skin issues, or other negative symptoms–it is likely that some specific plant-based foods (or a 100% plant-based diet) don’t work well for you. In that context, the program itself functioned exactly as intended, helping you identify food sensitivities and moving you closer to an individualized, sustainable diet that works best for you.

If that is the case, we encourage you to listen to your body. If your religious, cultural, or ethical convictions allow, consider expanding your plant-based options to include modest amounts of responsibly raised- and sourced animal protein (such as bone broth, eggs, and fish). Or, seek the help of a qualified healthcare provider to (a) determine whether any underlying health conditions (like SIBO) may have impacted your Plant-Based Whole30 experience, and (b) create a customized dietary program that meets your specific needs.

Others who participate may discover that a 100% plant-based diet provides a positive benefit to their energy,  sleep, digestion, mood, and other health factors—or that a few plant-based foods aren’t well-tolerated, but many are. Their Plant-Based Whole30 experience would then allow them to fine-tune their vegetarian or vegan diet in a way that is even more health-promoting.

Please note, the Plant-Based Whole30 is not recommended for those who are pregnant or nursing, or young children. Always consult your physician before beginning any new dietary or lifestyle program.

Who is the Plant-Based Whole30 for? Do you have to be vegan?

The Plant-Based Whole30 is designed for:

  • Vegans or vegetarians who want to experience the life-changing benefits of the Whole30 without any animal products
  • Omnivores who want to test how well a plant-based diet works for them with a structured, proven elimination and reintroduction protocol
  • Original Whole30 community members who want to compare their Original Whole30 experience to a Plant-Based Whole30 experience, to further fine-tune their food freedom

For those who are currently omnivorous and would like to test the Plant-Based Whole30, our team of healthcare experts highly recommend taking a few weeks to slowly introduce legumes and lentils for a few weeks prior to starting the reset. This allows your microbiome a chance to adapt to the specific carbohydrates and fiber in beans, and should alleviate at least some digestive distress during the program. You would also benefit from preparation and cooking techniques that make legumes and lentils easier to digest such as soaking, draining, and rinsing. Finally, eating most of your vegetables cooked (not raw) can also help ease your transition to a 100% plant-based diet

How do I know which Whole30 program is right for me?

If you are comfortable eating two animal protein sources (like eggs and salmon, or all varieties of fish and shellfish), we’d encourage you to complete the Original Whole30, perhaps also utilizing compatible plant-based protein powders to ensure adequate protein intake. The Original program will afford you the greatest learning opportunity, and the ability to test out a wider variety of plant-based protein sources (including legumes, lentils, soy, and peanuts) to determine how well they work for you in your food freedom. Feel free to consume only plant-based fats during your Original Whole30–there are plenty to choose from.

If you don’t eat any animal products and are not open to doing so, or if you’ve done the Original Whole30 and are curious about how a plant-based diet might work for you by comparison, then you are exactly why we created the Plant-Based Whole30! Welcome to the program.

Can I do the Original Whole30 with beans or tofu? Is there a “mix and match” option?

Nope! Each program was carefully designed to function as a stand-alone, discrete elimination and reintroduction protocol. Once you choose a program, please complete it exactly as written. (Basically, the Original Whole30 has worked incredibly well for millions of people, creating sustainable, life-changing results, so don’t mess with it!) Legumes, including peanuts, soy, and lentils, are only allowed on the Plant-Based Whole30 to ensure adequate levels of protein during the reset.

How were the Plant-Based Whole30 guidelines created?

The Plant-Based Whole30 was created based on 12 years of clinical experience, empowering people to achieve true food freedom through the Original Whole30 program. The Plant-Based Whole30 guidelines were designed by Registered Dietitian Stephanie Greunke and Whole30 co-founder Melissa Urban, and are endorsed by a team of medical advisors.

The Plant-Based Whole30 eliminates food groups that have been shown in the scientific literature and through clinical experience to be commonly problematic (to varying degrees) across a broad range of people. It also takes into consideration some of the downfalls of even healthy plant-based diets, such as the blood sugar dysregulation that can occur when protein sources are limited and more refined carbohydrates are chosen. Finally, it’s aligned with a whole food plant-based methodology, the health benefits of which are supported by a wealth of research promoted by a wide range of healthcare professionals.

The Plant-Based Whole30 team of expert consultants include:

  • Dr. David Perlmutter, MD, FACN – Board-certified neurologist, Fellow of the American College of Nutrition, and five-time New York Times bestselling author.
  • Dr. Casey Means, MD – Stanford-trained physician, Chief Medical Officer and Co-founder of metabolic health company Levels, and Associate Editor of the International Journal of Disease Reversal and Prevention.
  • Dr. Will Cole, IFMCP, DNM, DC – Senior Functional Medicine clinic director in Pittsburgh, PA. Consults world-wide in autoimmune, brain, gut, hormone, and thyroid health.
  • Dr. Michael Ruscio, DNM, DC – Doctor of Natural Medicine, Doctor of Chiropractic, clinical researcher, and published author. A committee member of the Naturopathic Board of Gastroenterology research division.
  • Stephanie Greunke, MS, RDN – Registered Dietitian who specializes in metabolic health, prenatal/postnatal nutrition, behavioral psychology, and holds additional certifications in perinatal mental health and fitness.
  • Dr. Catherine Moring, PhD, RDN, BC-ADM, CDE– co-owner of Delta Health Solutions and Executive Director of a hospital and community wellness center. Registered Dietitian, board-certified in advanced diabetes management, and a certified diabetes care and education specialist. Whole30, Keto, and Intermittent Fasting Certified Coach.
  • Rhyan Geiger, RD – Registered Dietitian and vegan author who specializes in vegan nutrition. 
  • Whitney Stuart, MCN, RDN, CDE – Certified Whole30 coach. Nutrition expert and diabetic educator focusing on holistic nutritional counseling, corporate nutrition and educational support for all health, gender and age profiles.

Read more  Can the Mediterranean Diet Lower Your Cholesterol?

Will I get enough protein on the Plant-Based Whole30?

Unlike the Original Whole30, the Plant-Based Whole30 includes legumes, soy,  peanuts, and lentils to help ensure that participants consume a variety of essential amino acids and sufficient protein.

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of protein is 0.8 g/kg (about 0.36 g/lb) of body weight per day, or about 10-35% of daily calories coming from protein. Understanding there is much variability in the needs of more muscular/larger people and less muscular/smaller people, and taking into account that your activity level will also impact protein needs, the RDA calculation amounts to (on average) 70 grams of protein per day for a 150-pound adult. (And if your calculation comes out to slightly less, know that the Registered Dietitians we consulted were reluctant to recommend any adult consume less than 70 grams of protein a day.) 

The lower end of this range may meet the nutrient needs for sedentary individuals; however it likely won’t be adequate for athletes, active individuals, or those with higher protein needs. Active individuals typically require protein in amounts closer to 1.2-1.8 g/kg of body weight per day for optimal muscle protein synthesis, tissue maintenance, and repair.

For active individuals, you’ll likely need to include a compatible protein powder at least once a day, and shoot for the higher range of plant-based protein sources at each meal. This looks like 1 cup of legumes or lentils or 6-7 ounces of tofu or tempeh at each meal, along with higher-protein nuts and seeds (See our Protein Table for more information).

For more sedentary individuals, aiming for a minimum of 1 g/kg (0.45 g/lb) of body weight can better support satiety, strength, and general health.

We recommend aiming for a minimum of 15 grams of protein from one or more protein sources at each of your four meals to prioritize your protein needs. Sources that are highest in plant-based protein include: legumes, lentils, minimally processed meat alternatives, and unsweetened plant-based protein powder. Nuts and seeds provide additional protein to complement your main protein source(s). The Plant-Based Whole30 offers educational resources, including a Plant-Based Protein handout to help you understand and meet your protein needs. This resource offers more information on meeting your protein needs.

What if I experience digestive issues on the Plant-Based Whole30?

Legumes and lentils can cause gas and bloating, especially if an individual’s microbiome isn’t accustomed to consuming them, or if there is an underlying gut issue like small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO). Some individuals also have a hard time digesting foods high in specific carbohydrates called FODMAPs. Legumes and lentils also happen to be high-FODMAP foods. If you experience digestive distress on the program, the following tips may help:

  • Introduce beans and lentils in small portion sizes (¼ cup), and work up to a full serving over time.
  • Smaller varieties of legumes and lentils (like split peas and green lentils) may cause less gas than larger beans like kidney, garbanzo, or black beans.
  • Sprout legumes before cooking them (or purchase pre-sprouted from health food retailers like Thrive Market).
  • Cook dried beans thoroughly. Beans are more easily digested when cooked all the way. 
  • Rinse and drain can beans at least once before consuming.
  • Choose fermented varieties of soy, like tempeh and miso.
  • Use other plant-based proteins, such as whole forms or soy and unsweetened protein powder, to help you meet your protein needs with fewer legumes and lentils.
  • Kombu (a type of seaweed), cloves, ginger, garlic, and turmeric can all help reduce gas production. Cook dried beans with at least one of these seasonings.
  • Ask your healthcare provider if using a digestive enzyme supplement is appropriate for you. When used with meals, this can help your body adjust to the increased fiber content of your diet and the specific carbohydrates in legumes and lentils.

In many cases, GI issues resolve in about two weeks after reintroducing legumes. If not, an individual should work with their provider to determine the root cause.

Why are smoothies and chia puddings made with protein powder featured on the Plant-Based Whole30, when they’re discouraged in the Original program?

Smoothies and chia pudding made with unsweetened plant-based protein powder are promoted on the Plant-Based Whole30 as an option for those who have a hard time digesting legumes and lentils. Their inclusion allows individuals to meet their protein needs in a way that won’t disrupt their digestion, and gives participants’ microbiomes a chance to adapt to the higher fiber content of legumes and lentils. Compatible smoothies and chia pudding should include no added sugar and not resemble a dessert. They should also be incorporated as part of a complete meal, not used as meal replacements, whenever possible. Smoothies and chia pudding are not required for this program.

Should I use supplements with my Plant-Based Whole30?

It’s important to supplement certain nutrients on plant-based diets, since these nutrients are not as bioavailable and/or easily found in plants. The Plant-Based Whole30 advisory team recommends working with your provider to include the following supplements during your Plant-Based Whole30:

  • DHA & EPA from algae oil
  • A multivitamin that includes B12, zinc, iodine, selenium, magnesium, D3, K2, and choline
  • An iron supplement (if needed based on lab results)

We hope this helps you better understand the foundation of the Plant-Based Whole30 program, the basic tenets of an elimination diet, and how the Plant-Based Whole30 framework could help you reset your health, habits, and relationship with food. Our mission is to empower you to own your health and change your life, and we invite you to join the millions of people around the world who have experienced the life-changing  results of the Whole30, and used the program to achieve lasting food freedom.

The opinions and/or information presented in this article is in no way intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical treatment, and should only be used in conjunction with the guidance, care, and approval of your physician. Nothing herein is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult a qualified healthcare practitioner before making dietary or lifestyle changes.

— Update: 19-03-2023 — cohaitungchi.com found an additional article The Plant-Based Whole30 Rules
Plan for Plant-Based Success
from the website whole30.com for the keyword whole30 vs plant based diet.

The Plant-Based Whole30 program is laid out in two phases: 30 days of elimination, and 6+ days of reintroduction. For the first 30 days, you’ll be eating plant-based protein sources, lots of vegetables and fruit, and natural plant-based fats. The list of foods you’ll eliminate may seem intimidating, but we have dozens of free recipes here to see you through—and it’s only 30 days. Below is a summary of the Plant-Based Whole30 elimination.

The Plant-Based Whole30 Program Rules

Yes: Eat real food

Eat legumes, lentils and peas; whole or minimally processed forms of soy like edamame, miso, natto, tofu, and tempeh; whole forms of plant-based protein powders like pea, hemp, pumpkin, or chia; vegetables and fruit; nuts and seeds; natural plant-based fats; and herbs, spices, and seasonings. Eat foods with a simple or recognizable list of ingredients, or no ingredients at all because they’re whole and unprocessed.

No: Eliminate for 30 days

  • No animal protein. This includes beef, bison, lamb, chicken, turkey, wild game, pork, fish, shellfish, or eggs.  
  • No animal fats. This includes butter or clarified butter, ghee, lard, tallow, suet, or schmaltz.
  • No highly processed forms of soy. This includes soybean oil, textured soy protein, textured vegetable protein, soy protein isolate, or soy protein concentrate.
  • No added sugar, real or artificial. This includes (but is not limited to) maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, date syrup, monk fruit extract, stevia, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, and xylitol. If there is added sugar in the ingredient list, it’s out.
  • No alcohol, in any form, not even for cooking. (And ideally, no tobacco products of any sort, either.)
  • No grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, sprouted grains, and all gluten-free pseudo-cereals like quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat. This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn, and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch, and so on. Again, read your labels.
  • No animal-sourced dairy. This includes cow, goat, or sheep’s milk products like milk, cream, cheese, kefir, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, ghee, clarified butter, or frozen yogurt.
  • No carrageenan or sulfites. If these ingredients appear in any form on the label, it’s out for the Plant-Based Whole30.
  • No recreating or purchasing baked goods, “foods with no brakes,” or treats with Plant-Based Whole30 compatible ingredients.* Recreating or buying sweets, treats, and foods-with-no-brakes (even if the ingredients are technically compatible) means you’ll come out of the program with the same exact habits, coping strategies, and food choices you had when you started—and that won’t lead to the kind of long-term, life-changing results we want for you.
  • No stepping on the scale or taking any body measurements for 30 days. The Whole30 is about so much more than weight loss, and to focus only on body composition means you’ll overlook all of the other dramatic, lifelong benefits this plan has to offer. So no weighing yourself, analyzing body fat, or breaking out the tape measure during the 30-day elimination period.

*Some specific foods that fall under the “Pancake Rule” include: pancakes, crepes, waffles, bread, tortillas, biscuits, muffins, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, alternative flour pizza crust or pastas, granola, cereal, “ice cream,” commercially-prepared chips (potato, tortilla, plantain, etc.), or deep-fried French fries. While this list of off-limit foods applies to everyone whether or not you like pancakes, you may decide to exclude additional foods that you already know promote cravings or mindless overconsumption, like RXBARs or almond butter. (See page 95 in The Whole30 for guidance.)

The Fine Print

These foods are exceptions to the rule, and are allowed during your Plant-Based Whole30.

  • Fruit juice. Some products or recipes will include fruit juice as a stand-alone ingredient or natural sweetener, which is fine for the purposes of the Plant-Based Whole30.
  • Vinegar and botanical extracts. Most vinegar (including white, red wine, balsamic, apple cider, and rice) and alcohol-based botanical extracts (like vanilla, lemon, or lavender) are allowed during your Plant-Based Whole30 program. (Just not malt-based vinegar or extracts, which will be clearly labeled as such, as they contain gluten.)
  • Coconut aminos. All brands of coconut aminos (a brewed and naturally fermented soy sauce substitute) are acceptable, even if you see the words “coconut nectar” or “coconut syrup” in their ingredient list.
  • Salt. Did you know that all iodized table salt contains sugar? Sugar (often in the form of dextrose) is chemically essential to keep the potassium iodide from oxidizing and being lost. Because all restaurants and pre-packaged foods contain salt, salt is an exception to our “no added sugar” rule.
  • Rice found in fermented soy. Rice is often used for the fermentation and processing of certain forms of soy, such as miso and tempeh. In order to provide enough plant-based protein and include as many traditional and culturally significant foods during the Plant-Based Whole30, rice listed as an ingredient on miso and tempeh products is allowed.


Your Plant-Based Whole30 isn’t over yet! Following the 30-day elimination, you’ll enter phase two, a 6 to 30 day period of reintroduction. This is the fun part—where you get to bring back the food groups you’ve been missing one at a time, and compare your experience. This is where you learn the most about which foods may be having a negative impact on your energy, sleep, mood, cravings, digestion, and more, so be thorough here!

In this phase, you’ll reintroduce one food group at a time, then go back to the elimination phase for two days to reset (in case you have a negative experience). You’ll reintroduce food groups in order of least likely to be problematic to most likely. We have two reintroduction protocols outlined: one for those who don’t wish to reintroduce any animal products, and one for those who might.

Reintroduction Schedule 1 (no animal products)

  • (OPTIONAL) Added sugar
  • (OPTIONAL) Gluten-free alcohol
  • Non-gluten grains
  • Gluten-containing grains

Reintroduction Schedule 2 (with animal products)

  • (OPTIONAL) Added sugar
  • (OPTIONAL) Gluten-free alcohol
  • Animal-based protein (poultry, beef, bison, lamb, chicken, turkey, wild game, pork, fish, shellfish, eggs) 
  • Non-gluten grains
  • Animal-sourced dairy
  • Gluten-containing grains

Give Us Thirty Days

Your only job during the Plant-Based Whole30 is to eat Plant-Based Whole30 foods. You don’t need to track calories, count calories, restrict calories, or even think the word “calories.” You don’t have to purchase everything organic, it’s okay if you snack, and not every meal needs to perfectly fit our meal template. Your only job is to stick to the Plant-Based Whole30 rules, 100% by the books.

The requirement to follow the program strictly is grounded in science, not diet culture. We call the Plant-Based Whole30 a “reset,” but at its heart, the Plant-Based Whole30 is an elimination diet. Elimination diets have been around since the 1920’s, and many doctors say they are still the gold standard for identifying food sensitivities—but only if you do them exactly as written. In order to accurately observe how your body responds in the absence of these potentially problematic foods, you have to completely  eliminate them. One vegan cupcake, plate of pasta, or glass of beer within the 30-day period means you’ve potentially short-circuited the healing process and the self-experiment. If you’re sensitive to those foods, you may need to wait four or five days for those effects to diminish, and on the Plant-Based Whole30, when this happens, we recommend starting over again on Day 1.

We’re asking you to commit to the program exactly as written, to give you the best chance of experiencing the full benefits the Plant-Based Whole30 has to offer.

You Can Do Hard Things

The Whole30 is famous for its tough love, but don’t be nervous– it’s heavy on the love. At this point, many of you want to take on this life-changing self-experiment, but aren’t sure you can really do it. If you’ve spent your whole life dieting, those efforts have likely left you discouraged, and you’re skeptical that the Plant-Based Whole30 really is different. It is, I promise. And also, you’re going to have to do the work. Here are a few key mindset shifts I want you to make heading into your Plant-Based Whole30, so you can step into your own power, reclaim your confidence, and keep this promise to yourself.

  • This will be hard. There are so many roadblocks to changing the way you eat. For some, it’s emotional ties to comfort foods. For others, it’s time or budget concerns. For still others, it’s missing culturally significant foods. I honor the tremendous efforts many of you will go through just to complete the Plant-Based Whole30. And still, you have done harder things in your life. Losing a parent is hard. Fighting cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. The Plant-Based Whole30 may also be hard, but you are more powerful than you give yourself credit for, and I know you can do this too.
  • Don’t self-sabotage. If you leave the program open to negotiation when you have a bad day or a special occasion, you are setting yourself up to fail. If you don’t clean out your pantry, if you tell yourself “one glass won’t matter,” if you say “I’ll try to do all 30 days,” you are setting yourself up to fail. Language matters, and “I’ll try” leaves you an out. Wake up each day and say, “I am Whole30, and I will keep this promise to myself.”
  • Hold your boundaries. You never, ever, ever have to eat anything you don’t want to eat. We’re all grown-ups here, and someone else’s feelings aren’t as important as your physical and mental health. Practice saying, “No, thank you” or “I’m not drinking right now.” Remember your “why” and come back to that when you’re feeling pressured. Just because it’s your sister’s birthday, your best friend’s wedding, or your company picnic does not mean you have to eat anything. Realizing the event is just as special and your participation just as meaningful without the wine or cake is a huge benefit of the program.
  • Changing your life requires effort. Grocery shopping, meal planning, dining out, socializing, and dealing with stress will all prove challenging at some point during your program. We’ll give you all the tools, guidelines, and resources you’ll need in our books, website, newsletters, and social media feeds, but you also have to take responsibility for your own program. The Plant-Based Whole30 will challenge you in ways you don’t expect, which is exactly why the benefits will carry over into every area of your life. Remember that when things get hard.

This is the journey you have been preparing for. You want to do this. You’re ready for it. And I know that you can do it. So stop thinking about it, and take the first step. Right now, this very minute, commit to the Plant-Based Whole30.

Then take a deep breath, because you’ve already begun! I’m so excited to welcome you into our community and witness your journey. Even if you’re not 100% sure the Plant-Based Whole30 will be as transformational for you as it has been for so many, all I ask is that you give the program your commitment, and trust the process. What we do here is that important. I believe in it that much. It changed my life, and I want it to change yours, too.

In Conclusion…

I want you to have this experience. I want you to join our community, complete the program, and see amazing results in every area of your life. Even if you aren’t convinced this will actually change your life, just give us 30 short days. You are that important, and we’ll be with you every step of the way.

Welcome to the Plant-Based Whole30 Program.