As you may know, although many vegans are health-conscious and tend to live a healthy lifestyle, veganism does not directly equate to health. A vegan with an unhealthy habit of indulging in bakwan, nasi goreng, french fries, and Oreos every day is still at risk of developing coronary heart disease and diabetes. So let’s examine - what is the most healthy vegan diet out there? Many vegan doctors would agree, a whole food plant-based (WFPB) diet is the way to go for vegans that strive for optimal health. However, many people are still unsure of what makes up this diet.
What is a Whole Food Plant-Based (WFPB) Diet?
While most are likely aware that the term “plant-based” is synonymous with vegan. However, the first term “whole food” is the one that raises eyebrows. A WFPB diet is also defined by what it emphasizes: A healthy variety of whole foods. Whole foods are minimally processed foods, such as whole grains, fruits, legumes, vegetables, nuts & seeds. There are also lightly processed foods, such as bread, whole grain pasta, plant-based milk, and tofu, which are not forbidden but should be enjoyed in moderation. Heavily processed foods are not included in a whole food plant-based diet. Foods that contain added sugars, fats, sweeteners or highly refined grain products (e.g. white rice or white flour) are a no-go.
White rice - the deal breaker for most Asians
Even though many Asians consider white rice their “fuel” for long days at work, it is an inferior type of rice from a health perspective. White rice is a highly processed food. It misses its germ (the nutrient-rich core), the bran (outer layer) and its hull (the outer protective coating). Red, brown or black rice on the other hand, only has the hull removed and as such are still considered wholefoods, as they have the nutrient-packed germ, the fiber-rich bran, and the carb-rich endosperm. White rice only has the endosperm and as such is considered an empty carb. It also has a high glycemic index, which increases the risk of diabetes. White rice will give you lots of energy at once. Thanks to the bran of red, brown or black rice, your body will absorb their energy more gradually throughout the day and thus keep you feeling satisfied for longer.
Three benefits of a WFPB Diet
- Easier weight management: People who eat WFPB tend to be leaner. The high fiber content of this diet makes this diet ideal for losing weight and maintaining optimal weight. You don’t even need to count calories. Eat as much as you want. Just make sure it’s whole foods.
- Disease Prevention: A WFPB diet has been shown to prevent, stop it in its tracks, and even reverses chronic heart disease and type 2 diabetes!
- Lighter environmental footprint: Plant-based diet places much less stress on the environment in terms of CO2 footprint and plastic waste.