The Whole Foods Market Diet & 30 Day Vegan

We've been mostly vegan for ten years. Close friends and family will tell you resoundingly that we are not vegan, they have seen us eating meat and cheese. And it is absolutely true. I love cheese, bacon, and ice cream. But that doesn't mean I eat them often. Which is why I say we're mostly vegan.

A better description for how we eat is mostly plant-based

It was Damien's personal health battles with allergies and gut issues, his research and decision making that led our family down this path. These are our basic food guidelines.

There are definite areas for improvement in our diet in the direction of more local, in-season and organic/sustainable. But this is hard since we live in the north and our diet is based on large quantities of fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds and beans and grains - many of which are not locally available year round. 

large chinese cabbage

That's a topic for another day... what I really need is a big greenhouse and a full time gardener or a move to the Mediterranean. 

What I wanted to talk about was the Whole Foods Market Health Starts Here food program. As it turns out the diet plan (I don't mean diet in the sense of losing weight but the food you choose to eat) they advocate is the food style our family chooses for health and longevity. 

Does this mean we shop at Whole Foods? Ahem... no. We couldn't afford it even if it was close enough (which it isn't). Instead we shop at a produce stand (this time of year most all the stock is not local), our local farm, two buying clubs, a health food store and once a month the regular grocery store (for toilet paper, pasta sauce & deli olives). 

Just to be clear, this is not some afffiliate marketing program where I advertise for Whole Foods and get compensated. What I'm "advertising" for anyway is their Health Starts Here program which can help people get started on their own road to health, regardless of where they shop.

According the program, the Four Pillars of Healthy Eating are: Whole Foods, Plant-Strong, Healthy Fats and Nutrient Dense.

Sounds a lot like what we eat. 

Of course most Whole Foods shoppers don't eat this way and it isn't exactly popular right now (in this climate of traditional, locovore diets) to eschew animal products in favor of vegetables. And quite frankly, if I'm given a choice I sometimes opt for the butter on my bread.

So the store sells what people buy but if you happen to visit a store and walk by the educational table you'll notice all the resources displayed point to plant-based eating. Interesting.

I especially want to highlight their Recommended Books List. Years ago Damien and I taught health courses in our home. Opening our home each week, cooking meals and snacks, teaching people from DVDs and personal experience. Our recommended reading and resource list had the same authors and books you'll find on the Whole Food's website.

I haven't read all the books on that Recommended Books List but here's a few I've read in recent years and learned a great deal from:


Imagine my serendipitous delight to discover, just today, that Heather @ beauty that moves (one of my favorite bloggers) is offering a 30 Day Vegan online workshop. It was so "coincidental" that as I was working on this post she announced her course, "a cleansing whole food online workshop, a tasty journey of healing and possibility".

Wow. I couldn't believe it. The very stuff I have been writing and thinking about sharing with you all offered as a hands-on course.

This is so much better than a website to visit or buying a book, this is:

  • access to a private blog with twice daily postings (wow, that's a lot of writing!)
  • access to Heather as a wellness coach
  • twice daily encouragements in your inbox
  • recipes, recipes, recipes! Simple, Whole Food, Vegan (yippee!)
  • and more

I'm signed up.

I need some fresh encouragement in my personal health journey and as household menu planner and cook. I need new recipes and inspiration to get me through this last bit of winter. And if you've followed Heather's blog at all you know she is such a gentle and kind teacher.

If you have been dipping your toe in the edge of vegan eating or simply looking for inspiration for healthy, plant based meals I heartily recommend 30 Day Vegan.

I can't wait to start. I need this breath of fresh air in my diet and kitchen. 

How about you? Where are you at in your healthy eating journey?

Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on Feb. 15, 2011, 2:39 a.m.

    You may be interested in a blog post that came out today. It is at

    It is a book review of The Vegetarian Myth by Lierre Keith. I was as I describe nearly vegan for almost 8 1/2 years, now I do eat healthy grass fed, pastured, small farm meats. I began eating meat when I became pregnant. My body took over at that point. I tried going back to vegetarianism while still breastfeeding, I couldn't do it longer that 6 months and I had to go back to eating meat. Good luck with your move! I so love your blog, keep up the great work and thanks for sharing so much!


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 15, 2011, 2:21 p.m.

      Thanks for the link. I checked it out.

      To be honest, we are fairly biased towards a plant based diet because of the health we have enjoyed because of it. Also because of the research we have done about the overall health and longevity of people who eat a mostly plant-based, whole foods diet. I'm not talking aboug junk food vegans. We're also not vegans in the sense of opposing the humane raising (and eating) of animals. We wear leather and eat animal products at least once/week.

      I am well aware that one can find research and science to back up any belief so I'm not saying we rely on those alone for eating this way. If we didn't have excellent health I would be asking serious questions about the way we eat. In the blog you referenced that young woman was experiencing some fairly serious disease in her twenties. That would for sure cause me to question what I was eating, where I was living, what I was drinking, what I was breathing, what I was meditating on, etc...

      It may be of interest, though I don't feel the need to justify our diet but to show the other side of the argument, that our family has excellent health (including dental - we just went and our dentist said we are "the most boring patients ever and to keep doing what we're doing"). Our kids are active, healthy and strong. They are the picture of health (knock on wood, Thank you God). No doubt this is partly genes but I think it is also dietary. The same could be said for healthy meat/dairy/egg eating children. But for us, what isn't broken doesn't need to be fixed. Eating mostly plants is definitely working for us (the proof is in the pudding) so we intend to keep on this track.

      My only real un-ease with the way we eat is our reliance on fossil fuels to ship fresh vegetables during winter. Most everything else, except nuts, coffee and certain oils can and is grown locally (though I don't always buy the local versions due to cost).

      I'm not sure what to do about this piece of the puzzle since it is incongruous with our values of sustainability. This is where I show you my vulnerability, my flawed humanity - that I believe strongly in something but am not able to practice it fully in this area of my life. 

      In peace.


  • Kika

    Kika on Feb. 15, 2011, 3 a.m.

    I am a 'pescatarian' now, after 15 ys of vegan then ovo-lacto vegetarian. I eat fish one to two times/wk and believe I need to continue doing so, for my health, at least during this season of my life. (I had intense fish cravings following the birth of my third child, five years ago, and when I finally gave in and began eating fish - two weeks after, in fact- I 'came out of a fog' so to speak and regained energy, mental clarity, etc., that was sorely lacking)We eat a little bit of dairy/farm eggs in addition to legumes, seeds and some tofu and I cook a bit of meat for my family - about once/wk. Anyways, I am interested in Heather's course even though I won't go completely vegan again...I think the encouragement and ideas she offers could be useful regardless. I like that she isn't into alternatives like packaged products or processed milk replacements. Certain vegan cookbooks use too many ingredients I refuse to use. I prefer foods to be simple and as natural as possible. I don't necessarily believe that vegan or vegetarian is best for everyone. I do think we need to be eating cleaner, more plant-based diets in general, and that we ought to listen to our bodies.


  • Spalva

    Spalva on Feb. 15, 2011, 11:59 a.m.


    I found your blog just recently and have enjoyed your approach to the outdoors. I saw the post at Beauty that Moves and had so many thoughts, but I decided not tot share because I'm too new there and her project is probably very close to her heart.

    I've been living abroad most of my adult life, so I watch these trends come and go. It's been interesting to see how many jumped on the NT bandwagon. From my outside perspective, I would be concerned mainly about sugar, salt, white flour and deep-fried foods. When I say that I'm talking about the diets of those people who seem to care. I've known plenty of junk food vegans in my time.

    I live in a northern climate, too, and if I have to look at more apples, carrots and potatoes for long, I think I might have a breakdown.


    • heather

      heather on Feb. 15, 2011, 12:25 p.m.

      yes, this project is very close to my heart, but you are always welcome to share with me...


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 15, 2011, 2 p.m.

      What's NT?

      Sharing things close to our hearts is always personal and puts us in vulnerable positions. This is the messy, beautiful and scary part of living. But I totally hear you. Quite frankly, I feel vulnerable writing about how we eat in this current food culture of paleo/primal eaters (in my husband's minimalist footwear circles this is how people say we should eat) and traditional/locovore eaters (in my world of eco-friendly mommy bloggers this is very popular).

      I always feel so out of step with everyone and feel quite vulnerable about that lots of the time. 

      Our family has eaten this way for many years and have very strong, scienitifically based, but more importantly, personal experience and well being, as our dominant reasons. 

      In the past we were more "evangelistic" in sharing our experience and knowledge (probably to the eye rolling chagrin of our loved ones) but have in recent years decided to have a "the proof is in the pudding" approach to sharing our diet. We have our health to show for our the way we eat. If that weren't the case we would be seriously questioning our course of action. We're kind of like that, always questioning and evaluating how we live and being intentional about our choices.

      I think the key is to be respectful of other people's choices, clear about the reasons you make your own and be open to change or at least open to differing opinions. I love what Micheal Pollan says about our understanding of nutrition (as quoted by Heather in her post)  "Nutritional science today is equivalent to where surgery was in the year 1650." 



      • Beth Wagenius

        Beth Wagenius on Aug. 25, 2011, 12:56 p.m.

        I'm sure you know by now, this post is older. But I thought I would reply just in case you (or anyone else) was still wondering. NT comes from the cookbook Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. She bases it on studies done at the Weston A. Price Foundation. You can look them up on wikipedia to get an idea of what they teach. It is a very popular type diet that gained a great following in a short amount of time. Me, included. But, although I do agree with many of the things that are taught....healthy oils, pasture raised meat,eggs and dairy,along with fermented foods. I would say from my own experience that for me, it was not all that health inducing.....I gained weight and didn't experience a more healthful, energetic, illness free life. In the short time I have been switching to a more plant based diet, (Green smoothies, less meat, eggs and dairy) I have noticed more energy, I am slowly losing weight and I just generally feel better. I am in the transition between the two. To be fair, I was never a strict follower of the NT type diet. But when I followed it the closest I was the heaviest I've ever been. Also in fairness I should note, I have begun walking on a regular basis. But there were also times on NT when I exercised regularly. Just trying to be unbiased. The whole idea of choosing our calories to be the most nutrient dense type of foods, just plain makes sense! Why wouldn't you?!


        • renee

          renee on Aug. 25, 2011, 4:29 p.m.

          Nope, never did get the defn for NT. Thanks!  Those happen to be the initials of the theologian NT Wright (we like his book Simply Christian), though I didn't think that's what the commenter meant! I'm actually quite familiar with the Nourishing Traditions food philosophy (just didn't clue to NT meaning that). I read blogs along those lines and have friends that eat that way. 


          • Beth Wagenius

            Beth Wagenius on Aug. 25, 2011, 4:45 p.m.

            I have friends that eat this way also. There are good things taught in NT and by WAPF. I just don't think it "the" only or best way to good health. It didn't seem to work well for me, anyway. And I know others who have tried NT and said the same. My husband has done better on it than me. We both seem to be doing better "energy wise" on a more plant based diet. I have been finding much good info in that direction here. Thanks. :)


      • Rachel Himes

        Rachel Himes on Sept. 20, 2012, 8:20 p.m.

        Honestly, I've researched diets and nutrition from just about every angle for nearly 20 years. Fads come and go. In almost every book that endorses a meat or dairy heavy diet, I see them relying on only a handful of studies to the exclusion of many other than contradict them. I used to be in favor of a meat based diet (and was raised on one). However, the more than I read, even from sources that are trying to convince me to eat meat and dairy, the more the research points to a plant-based diet. One only has to compare the statistics for meat/dairy heavy countries and our own to the diets of those that are low in them to see a marked difference. We are making the transition as a family, and I have found your site and resources wonderfully encouraging to me as the cook, planner, nutrition-savvy member of the family. You truly inspire me. I have been reading your blog and posts for a short while each day to refresh my desire to live naturally. We do still eat some fish (from our own pond) on occassion, but it is not a staple of our meals. 2 of my kids no longer have reflux problems, one has significantly improved ADD symptoms, my husband has less body pain/improved recovery time from workouts and massage and I am finally free of migraines, severe allergies and fibro-type debilitating pain. Every veg/vegan I've worked with as a nutritionist who said they "felt better" after eating meat again were not eating well as a veg.


  • Tara

    Tara on Feb. 15, 2011, 5:09 p.m.

    Renee- you and your time int eh kitchen has been on my mind for the last 3 weeks! My husband and I decided to do Dr. Junger's Clean Program cleanse. My husband suffers from joint and gut issues and recenly some skin issues as well. I am CONVINCED that his diet it so blame(he is a big meat/cheese/bread kind o' guy). I thought a cleanse that could help jump-start some new habits was the way to go. As a mother of 2 active kids and someone who is not pleasant when hungry, I wanted a cleanse that focused on the right stuff: eating well, being healthy and being mindful of what and how we eat. As a result, we have been eating gluten-free,dairy-free, mostly plant- based, with some chicken and fish and feel FABULOUS! We have more energy, sleep more soundly and are not experiencing the bloating and discomfot we came to accept as "normal" after meals. I have also realized that I have been overeating for many years- as I feel so satisfied on much less food than I am accustomed to. My husband has less pain, less swelling and his skin issues are more calm. I have been in the kitchen A LOT (and I always have cooked mostly from scratch) with this meal plan (what makes me think of you!) and have been very creative! We have incorporated more greens, coconut oil and aminos, and different grains into our diet. We have included more nuts and nut milks and have added some supplements. It has been a very tasty meal plan with amazing benefits. We have this week left of smoothies for breakfast, a solid lunch from the elimination diet, and simple, plant-based soups for dinner. My husband no longer thinks a yummy, filling meal has to have red meat, bread or cheese and has expanded his taste horizons. We are planning how we intend to take what we have learned about ourselves and nutrition and implement it in a more permanent, family-friendly way. I am also ordering Disease proof your child for some thoughts to make it a family- wide change. My kids eat fairly well, but some of this will be new tastes and textures for them and I want to be mindful on transitioning them gently. I am excited to read about the Whole Foods link and am sure it will given more inspiration and information. So, thanks for all of your posts on healthful eating! I plan to try your gluten free pancakes once the cleanse is over:) Thanks again for the inspiration!


    • renee

      renee on Feb. 15, 2011, 5:14 p.m.

      Thank you Tara for sharing this. I really appreciate it. The main reason I even bother writing about our diet (other than it's part of our life) is because I think someone, somewhere might benefit from what I share. I'm so encouraged by your report.


  • Nicola @ Which Name?

    Nicola @ Which Name? on Feb. 17, 2011, 3:51 p.m.

    This is such an interesting post for me for several reasons. One (and least importantly), I do shop at Whole Foods, but only occasionally, and never for produce. They carry some products that have been good for our family's health at very reasonable prices (I believe it is their fresh food that gives them the "whole paycheck" nickname) and their customer service towards me has been incredible. I am fortunate enough to live in that Mediterranean climate, so I can get a number of fresh foods, locally, in season, year round. We have a favorite, locally owned and run produce market that is also well priced. I am very lucky. Especially because, two, it just clicked with me how much we do eat like you. We do eat more sugar than you, for sure (although far less than peers around us) and we do eat dairy and we do eat fish, but I am right there with you on the fresh, unprocessed plant based diet first. We eat very little (basically no) meat (although I am the only non-meat eater in our family) and as of recently, much of what we consume is gluten free (everything I consume is gluten free and it filters to everyone else). Anyway, I will check out the WF program. I had heard of it, but not looked into it, mostly because I thought it might be "one more thing" if you know what I mean. But a recommendation from you, well, that is different! Warmly, Nicola


  • 9 Market Diet Sites

    9 Market Diet Sites on July 14, 2011, 4:33 a.m.

    [...] Show: Weighing Mass-Market Diet Programs' Costs – Vera Gibbons Makes the Comparisons,The Whole Foods Market Diet & 30 Day Vegan | FIMBYFeb 14, 2011 There are definite areas for improvement in our diet in the direction of more local, [...]


    • Katrice

      Katrice on Dec. 12, 2013, 3:35 p.m.

      Aw, this was an extremely good post. Finding the time and actual effort to produce a top notch article… but what can I say… I procrastinate a whole lot and don't manage to get anything done.


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