What is the “Plan A” Diet™?
The “Plan A” Diet is a whole-food, plant-based, no-added-oil diet which includes an array of fiber-filled complex carbohydrates and densely nutritious foods. A variety of starches – including potatoes, rice, beans, corn, yams and squash – are central to the plan. Also included are all varieties of non-starchy vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and lots of good, clean water. Certain processed foods such as breads, pastas, soups, cereals, crackers, and snack bars are allowed (assuming the products contain only acceptable ingredients). A daily menu might include oatmeal with fruit for breakfast, zucchini-bean burritos or creamy potato soup for lunch, and a salad with lasagna or stuffed peppers for dinner. Occasional healthy desserts and treats will assure that your sweet tooth is satisfied. Click here to view the food pyramid.
Not only is this style of eating loaded with health-promoting fiber, it easily provides ample protein, calcium, essential fats, carbohydrate, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Gone is the hassle of counting, weighing or measuring your foods; there is no deprivation because you eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re comfortably full (but not stuffed). Consuming a calorie dilute, high fiber diet such as this will fill your stomach and mean that you’re full and satisfied much faster.
Foods proven to be the most damaging to our health and weight are excluded, including all animal foods (beef, chicken, pork, lamb, fish, eggs, and dairy), processed meats (hot dogs, all lunchmeats, bacon, salami, ham, jerky, etc.), heavily processed and refined foods, junk foods, soda pop and other sugary beverages, and all oils. Yes, even olive and coconut oil are to be avoided since they’re 100% pure liquid fat and contribute to several serious health issues. The unbiased research which supports these positions cannot be ignored, and we’ll discuss more on these topics throughout the book. Remember, eating animal products, junk food and oil is how we’ve achieved the status of the most obese nation on the planet.
What the “Plan A” Diet™ is not: Technically everything we eat is our ‘diet’, but the word ‘diet’ can have a hundred different meanings depending on who you talk with. So allow me clarify that the “Plan A” Diet is not a typical diet of restriction for a specified amount of time, nor is it a diet of deprivation that will require super human efforts to refrain from eating. It isn’t a short-term fast or cleanse, and there aren’t any magical supplements or powders you’ll need to purchase. Nor is it a diet with various phases of eating patterns to be implemented one after another until you reach a maintenance level. It does not rely on will power or on counting calories or points. Regaining health does not mean eating smaller portions of the same unhealthy foods. Instead of a temporary solution until you lose weight or reverse a health issue, this delicious and satisfying way of eating should be your “Plan A” well into old age and for the rest of your life.
Faster Weight Loss: Adopting The ‘Plan A’ Diet™ is a safe and effective way to lose weight – without dieting. But for accelerated weight loss, the elimination or restriction of high-fat plant foods is also recommended. High-fat plant foods include olives, nuts, nut butters, seeds, avocados, coconut and soy foods. As mentioned above, all OILS are off the table, including products which contain added oils (such as margarine, which is filled with oil and is 100% fat).
When it comes to faster weight loss, here’s a key point that’s worth repeating: Eat when you’re hungry, and STOP when you are comfortably full (not stuffed). It’s not uncommon in our culture to eat until we’re overstuffed and bloated; even when consuming a healthy diet, continuing to eat past satiety can hinder weight loss by adding extra calories and extra pounds.
What will I eat? Many of your favorite dishes can be recreated in a healthy version. You’ll be quite delighted with a thick, hearty bean and mushroom chili and you won’t miss the ground beef. You’ll savor sloppy joes, burritos, lasagnas, burgers, pastas, stews, cheezy soups, stir frys and more. You’ll enjoy banana splits, cookies and chocolate desserts, all plant-based and amazingly good. And you will not miss adding oil to your foods, either; in fact, you’ll once again be able to taste the foods that used to be covered in oils. Whenever I offer a cooking class, the audience often remarks “Wow, I could eat this way!” Will there be a learning curve as you adopt a new way of shopping and cooking? Definitely – just as there would be when embracing any new endeavor. Will it be worth it? Absolutely.
(Note: If you prefer to transition more slowly to the “Plan A” Diet, then the Plan B Transition Approach may be more suitable for now. Scroll to the bottom to read about it).
Why is it called The “Plan A” Diet™?
When we refer to something as our Plan A, it typically means it’s our first and most beneficial choice. It’s no different with this eating plan. There are several reasons why this type of diet should become your go-to plan for the rest of your life – in other words, your “Plan A”:
1. It’s God’s “Plan A” Diet. While the “Plan A” Diet will benefit anyone who participates, regardless of their spiritual beliefs, scriptural principles which provide encouragement and support an optimal diet have been included for those of the Christian faith. Food is a major theme throughout scripture, and a whole-food, plant-based diet was God’s first provision as the ideal food for man. The diet God prescribed in Genesis 1:29 was designed to supply the optimal nutrition needed to keep man thriving, nourished and free of illness. A whole-food, plant-based diet was God’s delicious and perfect diet – in a then perfect world – and was provided to sustain good health and long life.
God said, “I have given you every plant with seeds on the face of the earth and every tree that has fruit with seeds. This will be your food.” (Gen. 1:29, GW)
So many believers are needlessly sick from the foods that they choose, and I believe that it must grieve God to see his kids harming themselves in this way. Whatever the reasons for our weight issues and poor health (ignorance, emotional eating, habit, false perception, apathy, denial, pride, rebellion, food addiction, spiritual attack, or a combination of these), it’s never too late to address the issues and start making necessary changes. We are to steward (manage) all that He’s given us, including the most intimate gift of our physical bodies.
(If you do not come from a faith background, or if you currently hold a negative view of Christianity due to some prior unfortunate circumstance, I encourage you to stick with me and keep reading anyway. Health is a great equalizer because the natural laws that pertain to the physical body apply to everyone; you will still benefit greatly from the scientific research on which this plan is based. Please don’t be put off by the scriptural references, but rather observe how these principles might apply to your life. I think you’ll be surprised to find that most of them will.)
2. Disease Prevention. God’s “Plan A” Diet is same diet that today’s unbiased research bears out to be the most effective way of eating to prevent disease. Mountains of evidence – both old and new – continue to show that our food choices can prevent heart disease (our #1 killer), certain cancers, hypertension, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, macular degeneration, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, migraines, PMS, menopause issues, digestive disorders, gut disorders, and much more. What you eat every day is the greatest determinant of your health, more than any other factor (including your genes).
3. Disease Halting and Reversal. If you or a loved one are already suffering with a degenerative disease or chronic condition, the “Plan A” Diet is your best defense for giving the body what it needs to heal itself. We know from credible research that even the most severe heart disease can be halted and reversed with diet[i]. Common chronic conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, digestive disorders and many more are often relieved or reversed – some in as little as three days. It’s never too late to start eating well in order to reverse your ailments. Why “manage” diabetes when you can get rid of it?
4. Ethical Reasons. If you’re concerned about the environment or animal welfare (and we should all be aware of these issues), then converting to the “Plan A” Diet is the best thing you can personally do. The production of beef and other animal foods consumes huge amounts of natural resources (water, topsoil, and fossil fuels); at the same time, vast amounts of concentrated manure pollutes our water and harmful gases such as methane pollute our air. Animal agriculture produces 18 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions (CO2 equivalents), compared with 13.5 percent from all forms of transportation combined. Lastly, the mistreatment of factory farmed animals is well documented, and I’m sure that if most Americans were aware of these abuses, they too would be appalled to see how the meat on their plates actually got there.
5. It’s Not a Fad Diet. There are many fad diets out there, but the most damaging are the high-protein, high-fat, low-carb varieties. One of the more popular books advises people to follow a diet based on the presumption of what our ancestors of the Paleolithic era may have eaten. According to that theory, we are genetically adapted to eat what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate – mostly animal foods (such diets recommend consuming 55% of your diet from red meats, poultry, fish, eggs, and other exotic meats). However, respected anthropologists claim that it’s a myth to believe that our ancestors were primarily meat eaters. Scientific documentation of what people have eaten over thousands of years convincingly supports that STARCH, not animals, was the traditional diet; humans might be more appropriately described as “starchivores”[ii]. More importantly than what our ancestors may or may not have eaten is what we know TODAY, which is that high-protein, low-carb, animal based diets are filled with artery-clogging fats and cholesterol, animal proteins and hormones which contribute to cancer, and acidic proteins which damage our bones and kidneys. Modern-day hunter-gatherer populations who base their diets on meat, such as the Inuits (Eskimos), suffer from heart disease and other forms of atherosclerosis, while those modern-day hunter-gatherers who base their diets on plant foods (starches) are free of these diseases[iii]. Large populations of trim, healthy people have obtained the bulk of their calories from starch.
There are many other fad books out there as well, claiming that grains are evil, or that our blood type should determine our diets. The “Plan A” Diet is not a fad; it’s a lifestyle that will provide freedom. Freedom from preventable illness, freedom from a calendar littered with doctor’s appointments, freedom to be active, freedom to ably serve in ministry, freedom to travel, and freedom in later life to make the best choices for your life.
6. It’s Healthier than Vegan: Why not just call it a vegan diet? You will notice that the words “vegetarian” or “vegan” are not being used in The “Plan A” Diet. That’s because a vegan diet can technically include processed foods that are not being recommended (chips, cookies, candy bars, soda pop, oil-laden fake cheese, and even fried foods). Many vegan cookbooks rely on vegan butter, oils, and other high-fat and health damaging products. Vegan does not necessarily mean healthy. Even though this book will be focusing on a healthy vegan diet, we’ll avoid the “v” words in order to avoid confusion of what’s really being recommended.
[i] The Journal of Family Practice. July 2014 Vol 63, No 7 page 257; Esselstyn, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease
[ii] Dr. John McDougall, The McDougall Newsletter, June 2012, Vol. 11, Issue 6
The “Plan B” approach is for those of you who prefer to make a more gradual transition for now. Plan B allows for up to 10% of animal products to temporarily remain in the diet. The allowance of minimal animal products is only recommended for a short time as you transition to “Plan A”, and only for those who already enjoy excellent health. Five weeks is a good transition guideline to consider; of course you can opt for a shorter transition time, but anything longer than five weeks might indicate that your heart really isn’t in the game. Continue to decrease the animal products in your diet with each passing week. Just be sure to establish a set time frame for your transition or you may drift back to the wrong foods altogether (a sample transition plan is shown in the Putting it into Practice chapter).
The amount of benefits you reap from a healthy diet depends on the amount of changes you’re willing to make, so may I urge you to truly consider “Plan A” before deciding on Plan B – especially if you’re suffering from any type of degenerative disease you wish to relieve or reverse. Making the big changes that are outlined in “Plan A” will provide the greatest benefits in a shorter amount of time….that itself is a great motivator! And believe it or not, you’re much more likely to succeed doing 100% versus 90% because your taste buds change more quickly, you stop drip-feeding any cravings, and the slippery slopes of habit and temptation are better eliminated.
Having said that, all change is a step in the right direction, and if Plan B – a 90% plant based diet – is a better fit for you at this time, then let’s jump in. Plan B is a carbon copy of “Plan A”, with one exception: the allowance of animal foods – less than 10% of calories – is permitted within these guidelines during the transition period:
- May include small portions of animal foods 2-3 times per week (small side-dish or condiment)
- Any animal foods consumed must be organic (including eggs)
- Any fish consumed must be wild-caught
- No processed meats of any kind (hot dogs, lunchmeat, bacon, salami, ham, jerky)
- As in “Plan A”, no dairy is allowed (milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, cream, ice cream, sour cream)
- As in “Plan A”, no oils of any kind are allowed
(Just for clarification, eating animal foods 2-3 times per week does not mean eating 2-3 servings of each type of meat or eggs! It means 2-3 portions TOTAL per week. An example would be one organic egg, a few small strips of organic chicken in a stir fry, and a small piece of wild-caught salmon – all in one week. More on animal protein is discussed in the FAQ section).
Summing it Up
There is much misunderstanding about a whole-food, plant-based diet. Even though a plant-based diet was God’s first dietary mandate, the mere mention of such an eating plan can elicit responses of avoidance, rolled eyes, and general negativity. I probably would have been one of the naysayers at one time as well. But as I’ve studied the results of credible research over the years, and have seen the amazing effects of this plan both personally and with dozens of friends and clients, it has occurred to me – once again – that God knows what he’s doing! Today’s scientific findings do not contradict God’s teachings, in fact just the opposite is true; science continues to greatly validate what scripture asserts. Why should we continually try to reinvent the wheel with fad diets and magic diet supplements when our creator knew exactly what mankind needed for optimal nutrition? It shouldn’t be surprising that it’s the same diet that today’s research bears out to be the healthiest.
Note: Information provided on this website is for general dietary purposes only and is not intended or construed to be personal medical advice. Please consult with your physician to advise them you are making dietary changes. Health conditions may improve quickly; work with your doctor to monitor your biomarkers and adjust any medications accordingly. Remember that YOU are in charge of your health care decisions; be respectful yet mindful of well-meaning health care providers with little to no nutritional training.