You’ve decided to give a whole foods, plant-based (WFPB) diet without oil a try, but how do you translate that into a meal?
Changing to a plant-based diet can be intimidating for a number of reasons. I used to eat out frequently or ate packaged foods, because I did not enjoy cooking. Of course, the more home-cooked food you eat, the healthier you will be, so it pays to cook at home. For many reasons, that doesn’t work for everyone. No matter which real-life situation below best describes you, here are some suggestions:
1. I’m willing to give it a try, but I don’t know where to start!
Start by participating in a challenge, which will give you the help and motivation you need. Engine 2 has a free 7-Day Challenge. For a longer version (better, in my opinion), check out Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine’s 21-Day Kickstart.
2. I want to clear the bad foods out of my kitchen and stock it with healthy foods.
Try Purple Carrot. They deliver the pre-measured ingredients and recipes and you cook them. Watch how Mary McDougall uses convenience foods like precooked rice, canned beans, and frozen vegetables to make simple meals, inexpensive meals that don’t require a lot of time.
4. I like to cook, and want to explore recipes at my leisure (without having to pay for them)
The public library has lots of WFPB cookbooks. Remember that “vegan” is not what you are looking for! Use the keywords “whole foods, plant-based, oil free” in your search to find the best books or websites. Even then, check that recipes do not use oil. And every day, there are more websites dedicated to the WFPB lifestyle. Here are just a few:
Food costs are lower for plant-based eaters, although the real savings come from lower medical expenses. Check out these articles that give you tips on how to stock your pantry on a budget, plus meal suggestions and recipes:
6. I cook, but I need someone to help me plan menus.
Check out healthy recipe programs, such as Lighter or Happy Herbivore’s Meal Mentor, or Forks Meal Planner. These programs give you weekly menus and shopping lists. They show you how to efficiently batch-prep food on the weekend, so your meals are ready for your busy week. They all have free trial periods.
7. I cook, but I need inspiration once I’m at the grocery store!
8. I would like to become an accomplished plant-based cook
Think about taking the Food over Knives on-line cooking course by Rouxbe. Over a 3-month period, it will teach you lots of basic techniques, and give you lots of recipes. I took this course; it’s a lot of fun and I learned a lot. Note: wait until this class goes on sale, which happens periodically.
9. I hate to cook, so I'd like to order prepared meals.
10. I travel a lot, so I need to find healthy dining options when I’m out of town.
When I traveled for work every week, the first thing I would do after landing was hit the supermarket for fresh fruit and healthy breakfast items. That way, I could avoid the unhealthy hotel breakfasts.
I found dinner options using the $3.99 HappyCow App to find vegan, vegetarian, and veg-friendly restaurants and stores around the world. You can also use Yelp, Open Table, and similar apps, using the search term vegetarian or vegan. Remember that doesn’t necessarily mean WFPB and oil-free, but it’s a great place to start!
Feel free to ask waiters to prepare new combinations of vegetables, beans, rice, etc. that are already on the menu as part of other meals. Even in the tiniest towns, you can manage to make it work. Tell them that your doctor has you on strict “no-oil” orders, or that you are allergic to oil, otherwise, they will often use oil anyway. Don’t be afraid to send it back if it’s not prepared the way you asked!
11. AND, if you've read this far, but you are not yet ready to dive in 100%,
Dr. Craig McDougall offers this recommendation: “Add around 1,000 calories of legumes, whole grains, and starchy vegetables to your everyday routine. These starchy foods keep you full and satisfied, so you’ll naturally eat less of the animal products and processed foods that are making you sick.”