Are you curious about a whole-food, plant-based (WFPB) diet? The T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies is here to help you get started.
The term whole in WFPB describes foods that are minimally processed. This includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), nuts, and seeds.
Many eventually give up the diet label in favor of lifestyle. Perhaps that’s because the popular notion of dieting has become so confusing. A WFPB lifestyle should be simpler. It’s not a short-term punishment charged by guilt. It’s not a set of complicated meal plans. It’s a return to whole foods, natural flavors, and optimal health.
Keep it simple—eat whole, unprocessed foods derived from plants.
The benefits of a healthy lifestyle are enormous. When you adopt a WFPB lifestyle, you can increase the odds that you will:
The price? Simply changing your diet. You can achieve profound health benefits by including more whole plant-based foods on your plate.
Whole Grains & Ancient Grains
amaranth, barley, brown rice, bulgur, farro, millet, quinoa, sorghum, steel cut and rolled oats, teff, wheat berries, whole wheat, wild rice
Legumes (dried or canned with minimal salt)
adzuki beans, black beans, black-eyed peas, chickpeas, fava beans, green beans, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, mung beans, peas, pinto beans, soybeans
Greens (fresh or frozen)
arugula, bok choy, chards, cilantro, collards, kale, lettuces, parsley, spinach
beets, carrots, daikon, garlic, ginger, leeks, onions, potatoes (all colors), radishes, turnips
asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, celery, mushrooms, peppers, sea vegetables, squash, tomatoes, zucchini
Fruit (fresh or frozen)
apples, apricots, bananas, berries, cherries, grapes, kiwi, mangoes, melons, papayas, pineapple, plums
chia seeds, flaxseed
**Organic Whole Soy Products (Recommend limiting soy to 2–3 servings per day)
edamame, miso, tempeh, tofu. Learn more with our Soy and Health Handout.
decaffeinated coffee, green tea, herbal teas, unsweetened plant-based milk substitutes, water
almonds, cashews, nut butters, pistachios, walnuts
low-fat coconut milk, raw coconut, unsweetened shreds or chips
Seeds (except omega-3 sources)
pumpkin, sesame, sunflower
organic and without added sugars or oils
Natural Added Sweeteners
date syrup, maple syrup, molasses
caffeinated coffee and high-caffeine tea (without added sugar)
fish, lamb, pork, poultry, processed meat, red meat, seafood
butter, buttermilk, cheese, cream, half and half, ice cream, milk, yogurt
chicken, duck, ostrich, quail
Processed Plant Fragments (these are often found in vegan replacement foods)
Added and Hydrogenated Fats
margarine, oils (including olive oil and coconut oil)
barley malt, beet sugar, brown sugar, cane juice crystals, confectioners’ sugar (powdered sugar), corn syrup, fructose, white sugar
white flour (including in pastas, bread, snack foods), white rice
isolated soy protein or soy protein isolate, pea protein isolate
Foods with additives, artificial colors, stabilizers
energy drinks, fruit juice (even 100% fruit juice), soda, sports drinks
“The epidemic of chronic, degenerative disease that is sweeping the western world can not only be stopped, it can be reversed. The power lies in the hands of the consumer, in the choices we make about what to put on our plates.”
—Dr. T. Colin Campbell
Learn more about the science behind the lifestyle with the groundbreaking research in The China Study.
Some of the most important health decisions you make will be in the grocery store. In a perfect world, we'd all go right out to our garden and just pick our fruits and vegetables. While that is not the reality for most of us, it is not hard to find healthy and nutritious foods at your local market.
“People often call my mother’s recovery a miracle...I believe the miraculous thing may be that so much illness could be avoided if people could only move from foods that hurt to foods that heal.”
“Dr. Campbell’s book resonated with me to my core, and I switched to a plant-based diet before I was even halfway through it.”
“—I completed a 50K, and a 50 mile ultra marathon on some crazy trails. Imagine, I am supposed to be in a wheelchair, and my doctor now refers patients to me for advice!”
Adopting a whole food, plant-based diet is like a marathon, not a sprint. If you are one of the majority of Americans with chronic health problems, you certainly didn’t get yourself into poor health overnight. It can take a good long while to untangle yourself from the habits and patterns you’ve had your whole life. Take into account the inevitable bumps and hurdles along the way. However, as you find foods you like, and you find new habits in shopping and cooking, this will just be a new lifestyle.