Is the Whole30 Program Possible to Do as a Vegan? This Writer Tries to Find Out
The September Whole30 program doesn’t start until the 14th of September but I started at the beginning of the month to be able to provide sage insight into whether or not this elimination diet is possible to do as a vegan. I’m a week in so far and am loving it. Technically, I’m doing a modified Whole30 as the program isn’t vegan-friendly.
What Does the Whole30 Diet Program Consist of?
On the Whole30 diet, you can’t eat legumes (except for green beans and peas) which means no tofu or tempeh. What you're not permitted to eat is more elaborate than what you are permitted eat:
You are not allowed: You’re not permitted to eat grains or pseudo-cereals including corn and quinoa. No added sugar is allowed meaning no alcohol in addition to nixing most sauces and condiments. Making baked goods with Whole30-approved ingredients is also off the table. The idea is to break unhealthy food habits for thirty days to set up positive, sustainable habits for the longterm.
Here's a more complete list of foods you can't eat from Whole30's program rules:
- Added sugar, natural or artificial
- Most legumes (Includes: black, red, pinto, navy, garbanzo/chickpeas, white, kidney, lima, fava, cannellini, lentils, adzuki, mung, cranberry, black-eyes peas, peanuts, and soy.)
- Sulfites, carrageenan or MSG
- Baked goods, junk food or treats
What you are allowed: Whole foods like fruits, vegetables, some legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, spices, seasonings, foods with recognizable ingredients or that are simple foods that don't need a list. The Whole30 website says:
“Eat meat, seafood, and eggs; vegetables and fruit; natural fats; and herbs, spices, and seasonings. Eat foods with a simple or recognizable list of ingredients, or no ingredients at all because they’re whole and unprocessed.” Of course, for vegans or plant-based eaters, the meat, seafood, and eggs are off the table.
I first did the Whole30 as a pescatarian a decade ago to try to see which foods weren’t sitting well with me. It was a challenging month—I was desperate to have pizza. It's now ten years later and I’m doing the Whole30 as a vegan. I’m accustomed to a limited diet and with the pandemic, I have the time to dedicate a month to following the Whole30 eating principles while at home.
My goal with the Whole30 is to eliminate foods that I feel may be impacting me negatively such as peanuts causing acne, gluten causing bloating, and beans causing a gassy stomach. Corn and nightshades don’t sit well with me, so I’m continuing to avoid those plants.
Before starting, I indulged in all my favorite vegan treats before embarking on the Whole30 and had a week of vegan pizza, sushi, and brownies. After so many treats, I was looking forward to a month without sugar, grains, and beans. I’ve enjoyed going to my local farmer’s market to buy fresh seasonal produce.
Stay tuned for next week when I’ll share with you what I’m eating, how I’m feeling, and my advice for anyone interested in trying to do a vegan Whole30. In the meantime, you can check out exactly what I’ve been eating on Instagram in my ‘vegan whole30’ highlight.