Whole Food Plant Based Diet (WFPB) Guide & Recipes (2024)

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Here’s what you need to know about how to eat a whole food plant based (WFPB) diet, including recipes for every meal of the day!

Whole Food Plant Based Diet (WFPB) Guide & Recipes (1)

Looking to eat more whole food plant based (WFPB) recipes? You’ve come to the right place. Alex and I started this website as a resource of whole food plant based recipes when we made the transition to eating this way. (We also wrote a cookbook full of them.) Turns out, a plant based diet includes some of the most delicious, satisfying and fun recipes out there! Here’s a bit more on what a WFPB diet is, how to transition, and some of our favorite recipes for getting started.

What is a whole food plant based (WFPB) diet?

What’s the WFPB diet? It’s a term for eating whole food plant based foods. There’s a bit of contention around exactly what this means, so let’s look at each piece of the term:

  • Whole food: Whole foods are minimally processed foods like vegetables and whole grains. Refined flours, sugars, and processed foods are not whole foods.
  • Plant based: Plant based is eating foods that are mainly derived from plants and not animal products.

So, a whole food plant based diet is a diet that focuses on fresh, minimally processed foods that are mainly made of plants. It’s more of a healthy lifestyle than a strict diet. According to various sources including Harvard Medical School, a plant based diet has the flexibility to include some animal products. The focus is that it’s mainly plants, and not that it’s strictly vegan and avoiding all animal products. (See more in our Plant Based Diet for Beginners.)

What do you eat in a whole food plant based diet?

What’s important with the WFPB diet is the good foods you’re leaning towards, not the bad foods you’re trying to avoid. Here’s what kind of healthy foods you’ll lean towards:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds (vs. processed foods)
  • Whole grains (vs. pastas and breads — though they are fine in moderation!)
  • Plant based proteins (vs. processed meats and plant-based meats)
  • Healthy fats (like olive oil)
  • Minimal sugar

How to transition to a whole food plant based diet

If you’re not eating this way yet, never fear! It’s actually one of the most delicious, satisfying ways to eat. How to start a healthy whole food plant based diet? Here are our top tips:

  • Decide what’s right for you! First, decide on how you’d like to eat. Alex and I eat about 90% vegetarian and vegan, and then eat sustainable seafood or meat on occasion. We also eat about 90 to 95% whole foods, and leave room for processed treats every now and then. This keeps our overall diet sustainable.
  • Start small. Refer to a few of the recipes below, and pick just a few! Make one or two, see if you like them. If not, move onto new ones!
  • Stay on the path! It’s all about small steps toward the end goal. Don’t feel like you have to make a major change over night. And if you don’t find recipes you like at first, don’t sweat it! This will be a process. Stay the course.
  • Find a buddy. Once of our best tips for making a diet change is to find a buddy to hold you accountable! Alex and I transitioned to a mostly whole food plant based diet over a few months by doing it together. If you don’t have a spouse or life partner who is interested, find a friend who you can share recipes with and mutually encourage each other.

And now, our best whole food plant based recipes!

Let’s get to the recipes! Here are some recipes we recommend for starting out with a WFPB diet, from main courses to whole food plant based breakfast and snacks.

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Easy Chickpea Curry

First up in our whole food plant based recipes: chickpea curry! This one is designed for weeknights and comes together in just 20 minutes. It's seriously flavorful, filled with ginger, garlic, cumin and curry powder, with a little coconut milk swirled in to make it creamy. Serve with basmati rice (or Instant Pot rice).

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Best Wild Rice Soup

This BEST ever plant based wild rice soup is impossibly creamy! This one is a beloved fan favorite recipe, featuring wild rice, white beans and mushrooms in a creamy broth. The secret? Cashews are blended with some of the soup to make a rich and creamy body. It's super filling, full of plant based protein. (Got an Instant Pot? Make our Instant Pot Wild Rice Soup Recipe.)

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Easy Sheet Pan Dinner

This easy sheet pan dinner is full of colorful vegetables and loaded with flavor! It's a plant-based dinner that roasts up everything on a sheet pan at once: lots ofgood-for-you veggiesand chickpeas for plant based protein. Throw it all in the oven while you cook rice or quinoa. Top with a dollop of hummus,cashew cream, or anothervegan sauce. Dinnertime win!

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Easy Vegan Tacos

One of our favorite meals in a whole food plant based diet? Tacos! Use corn tortillas to gobble up these vegan tacos: green lentils are spiced with taco seasoning and topped with salsa verde and cilantro sauce. A few other plant based tacos we love: Best Jackfruit Tacos and Cauliflower Tacos with Yum Yum Sauce.

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3-Bean Healthy Chili Recipe

Chili is such a crowd pleaser, it's perfect when cooking for a whole food plant based diet! This healthy chili features three types of beans and is loaded with spices. Top it with roasted salted pepitas, the perfect crunchy topping full of plant based protein. And add a dollop of Vegan Sour Cream! (Got an Instant Pot? Try our Instant Pot Vegetarian Chili.)

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Simple Chickpea Salad

Here's an easy, healthy lunch idea that you can make in 5 minutes! It'splant basedand starts with a can of chickpeas. Throw these chickpeas together with cucumber and red pepper, stir with olive oil and red wine vinegar, and you've got an incredibleMediterranean-stylesalad that tastes like it took all day. Serve with pita triangles or crackers.

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Mexican Sweet Potatoes

Loaded Mexican sweet potatoes is a fun way to eat whole food plant based without realizing it! Here you'll halve and roast the sweet potatoes, the top them with black bean salsa, corn and cilantro sauce. The cilantro sauce is plant based by way of blended cashews: it's tangy and you'll want to drizzle it on just about everything.

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Vegan Shepherd's Pie

This vegan shepherd’s pie is cozy comfort food to the max! Imagine: a creamy gravy filled with tender vegetables, lentils and scented with fennel and sage. Then a fluffy layer ofmashed potatoes, topped with fresh rosemary. It’s layered together in a baking dish and then baked until golden. This one’s a whole food plant based stunner!

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Creamy Vegan Broccoli Soup

Here’s a creamy vegan broccoli soup that will blow your mind. It’s impossibly creamy, whole food plant based (WFPB), and it tastes just like the cheesy version! The secret? Cashews and potatoes blended together make a creamy body. This easy and healthy soup is vegan and gluten-free, so it works for a variety of diets.

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Curry Lentil Soup

One more soup recipe, please! After one bite, we guarantee you'll be sold on this curry lentil soup. It’s full of hearty red lentils and root vegetables, and the broth is swirled with red curry paste and coconut milk. With all the texture and flavor going on, it feels rich and luxurious. But at the same time it’s a healthy,plant basedmeal!

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Vegan Enchiladas

These plant based enchiladas top the charts as one of our most crowd-pleasingvegan recipesever. Tortillas are wrapped around a veggie filling oozing with flavor, and it’s all doused in a zestyhomemade enchilada sauce. With the crunchy veggie topping, this dish looks simplyincredible. It tastes even better than it looks! Use corn tortillas for gluten free.

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Vegetable Curry

Curry is the best way to eat loads of healthy foods without even noticing. This vegetable curry is so good, you’ll be shoveling it down by the spoonful! It’s full of big flavor andall the best veggiesyou can eat, like cauliflower, carrots, bell peppers, and chickpeas. It features crisp tender veggies in a seriously flavorful broth. Serve with rice and it’s one of the most satisfying plant-based dinners around.

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Perfect Vegan Black Bean Burger

This black bean burger is a tasty whole food plant based main made with sweet potatoes and black beans. Top it with spicy mayo (use vegan mayo, if desired!) and savory shiitake mushrooms. Serve it on a whole grain bun, or to remove any refined flours serve it over greens with a tahini drizzle. (See below!)

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Raw Falafel Buddha Bowls

These Buddha bowls are full of big flavor! The plant based protein comes from the raw falafel. They're a spin on the traditional Mediterranean fried chickpea patties, but here they use the standard spices with sunflower seeds and herbs. Serve it in a bowl of vibrant veggies and top with our Lemon Tahini Sauce: it's bursting with whole food flavor.

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Vegan Split Pea Soup

Here's a crowd pleasing plant based recipe made with the humblest of whole foods: carrot, celery, onion and split peas. It transforms into the tastiest cozy stew that's full of plant based protein. Serve with Almond Cashew Homemade Crackers instead of bread to stay totally whole food-centric.

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Cuban Black Beans Recipe

These Cuban black beans may seem humble, but they taste like 1 million bucks. This one's a quick version of the Cuban staple, with onion, green pepper, jalapeño and garlic in sauteed butter (or vegan butter) to mimic some of the richness of the traditional ham hock. It cooks down into a silky smooth, luxurious sauce that tastes infinitely better than the sum of its parts.

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Easy Stir Fry Vegetables

How to make vegetables taste irresistible? Make a stir fry! These stir fry vegetables are colorful and taste so delicious, you won’t want to stop eating them. It’s great way to eat all thebest healthy vegetables! Making a stir fry is easy, but you also need to know a few tricks to get it right.Add cashews or serve with Marinaded Tofu and riceorInstant Pot rice.

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Homemade Hummus

Looking for whole food plant based snacks? Hummus may be basic, but it's pretty much the perfect plant based snack: it's filling, nutritious, and tastes amazing. Serve with veggies or for a filling alternative, make up a batch of our Almond Cashew Homemade Crackers.

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Chili Baked Potatoes

Here’s a solution that’s a perfect dinner for a crowd: chili baked potatoes! Bake up some potatoes, top them with vegan chili and all the fixin’s, and it’s an easy dinner everyone can enjoy. Chili is a hearty match for baked potatoes, and really: who doesn’t love a baked potato bar with all those fun toppings?

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Crispy Roasted Chickpeas

If you're in the mood for something crunchy and salty but want to stick to a WFPB lifestyle, try these crispy chickpeas! They're roasted in a hot oven until perfectly crispy, and seasoned with cumin and garlic powder. When we make them, we can't stop eating them. And they're full of plant based protein! Also try them with beans: Crispy Roasted Black Beans.

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Let's move on to whole food plant based breakfast, shall we? Here's a breakfast I eat every day and it's supremely satisfying. It's the best oatmeal, topped with filling all natural PB&J! Serve with no sugar added peanut butter for a huge hit of plant based protein to start your day. If you'd like a little flair, add our Strawberry Jam: it's homemade, vegan and naturally sweetened with maple syrup.

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Homemade Acai Bowl

Here's a tasty way to start the day, WFPB style: an acai bowl! This frosty purple smoothie is made with acai berries, a Brazilian berry that's become popular in the US and is easily accessible in the frozen aisle. Top with fresh berries, almond butter and pumpkin seeds, and it's a filling breakfast.

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Toasted Homemade Muesli

Muesli is homemade breakfast cereal: it’s similar to granola but with no oil and very little sweetener. This whole food plant based breakfast is a fan favorite, cinnamon-scented with toasted coconut, pecans, and dried cherries. Top with your favorite almond milk or oat milk, and enjoy!

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Chocolate Blueberry Smoothie

Last up in our whole food plant based recipes: a chocolate blueberry smoothie! Except this one isn't made with chocolate: it's sweetened with a little maple syrup, blueberries and banana, which combine with cocoa powder to form a sweet healthy drink that reminds you of chocolate...except it's all whole foods!

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  • Whole Food
  • Whole Food Plant Based

About the authors

Whole Food Plant Based Diet (WFPB) Guide & Recipes (26)

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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Whole Food Plant Based Diet (WFPB) Guide & Recipes (2024)


Can you eat eggs on WFPB diet? ›

Followers eat mostly plants, but animal products aren't off limits. While one person following a WFPB diet may eat no animal products, another may eat small amounts of eggs, poultry, seafood, meat, or dairy.

How long does it take to start losing weight on WFPB diet? ›

Most people who switch to a plant-based diet meal plan for weight loss see results within weeks, but occasionally results aren't as dramatic as dieters hope. If you've committed to the diet and you still aren't losing weight, check out this blog post for a few possible reasons why. Have you stopped cooking with oil?

Can you eat peanut butter on a whole food plant-based diet? ›

Plant Protein

Anyone can follow plant- based eating. Peanuts and peanut butter is one of the most powerful plant foods that have a perfect balance of calories and nutrients. They are a food that has a lot of nutrients to offer, with the majority of calories coming from those good nutrients.

What foods should I avoid on a plant-based whole food diet? ›

It encourages eating little to no processed food and discourages the use of oil and salt. This means that vegan meat and cheese, bread, ice cream, cookies, candy, snacks, and frozen meals are not allowed.

Can you drink coffee on a WFPB diet? ›

Alcohol is not a healthy beverage and is associated with the development of many diseases. That said, if you enjoy it responsibly on occasion, you do you! Coffee can be part of a healthy WFPB diet for most people. Some folks who suffer from anxiety/GI issues/low iron may want to steer clear or limit consumption.

Can you eat pasta on WFPB diet? ›

Is Pasta Healthy? Though technically pasta is technically not a whole food, because even in its healthiest form its still minimally processed, pasta dishes can still be a part of a healthy WFPB diet.

How many times a day should you poop on a plant-based diet? ›

Eating a healthy vegan diet (i.e., rich in fruits, veggies, and whole grains) makes it easy to exceed the recommended 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day, and it's not unusual for that to translate into daily poops for vegans—or two or three!

Why am I gaining weight on a WFPB diet? ›

Quite simply, you may be eating entirely plant-based whole foods, but they may be too high on the calorie density scale. Make sure you've cut out added fats and oils.

Can you lose belly fat on a plant-based diet? ›

While most plant-based foods will help with weight loss and eliminating belly fat, some are especially fat loss–promoting: berries, broccoli, quinoa, black beans, and dates.

Is Greek yogurt a whole food? ›

Cheese and plain yogurt are also often included as whole foods. Even though the milk that they are made from will have gone through some processing to create these dairy products, the processing is seen as minimal. But this doesn't include yogurts with added sugars, flavourings and sweeteners.

Why am I so hungry on whole food plant-based diet? ›

It might seem obvious, but "one of the reasons why you might feel hungrier when you transition to a vegan or plant-based diet is because you may not be eating enough calories and nutrients," explains Julie Barrette, a senior clinical dietician with Providence Mission Hospital.

Why am I so tired on a whole food plant-based diet? ›

Lack of Specific Vitamin and Minerals

This is because, for many nutrients involved in preventing fatigue, such as vitamin B12, iron and iodine (18), a little more thought may be needed to reach your daily requirements.

Why does my stomach hurt on plant-based diet? ›

Fiber is only found in plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans/legumes, and even processed foods like meat alternatives. Although fiber is a healthy and important part of a balanced diet if we eat excessive amounts of fiber it can cause gas, bloating, and abdominal discomfort.

Can you eat eggs on plant paradox diet? ›

You're encouraged to eat these foods on the Plant Paradox Diet: Proteins: grass-fed or -finished meats, pasture-raised poultry, free-range eggs, wild-caught fish, and hemp products like “hempeh,” hemp tofu, or hemp protein powder.

How do I get enough protein on the WFPB diet? ›

Examples of whole-food sources of plant proteins include:
  1. Edamame.
  2. Green peas.
  3. Legumes, such as garbanzo, kidney, black, pinto or cannellini beans.
  4. Lentils.
  5. Nutritional yeast.
  6. Nuts and nut butter.
  7. Quinoa.
  8. Seeds.
Jul 5, 2023

Why am I so hungry on a WFPB diet? ›

​While there are many reasons why you may become hangry (hungry and angry) while trying to eat more plant-based, much of this can be attributed to not eating sufficient energy (ie. calories) and nutrients on a vegan or vegetarian diet.

What is the downside of a plant-based diet? ›

Possibly a protein-deficient diet. Animals, milk, and eggs contain necessary amino acids for protein. Plant-based proteins are an incomplete protein source unless properly combined. Make sure you're eating plants that can supply the appropriate quantity and combination of amino acids.

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