Brad Hefta-Gaub

Whole 30 Vegan/Vegetarian

25 posts in this topic

Full disclosure, I'm not a vegetarian or vegan. But I am intrigued by the idea of accomplishing Whole 30 on just plant foods. It seems to me that it is in fact very doable, even without introducing legumes, eggs, meat, etc. The key however would be to eat WAY MORE greens than even the average vegetarian would eat.

Many green vegetables are actually great sources of complete proteins.

For example: Broccoli.. 1 cup of broccoli provides 3g of protein, and from a protein quality score (PQS) perspective it scores an 83, with large/balanced amounts for all the essential amino acids.

The average adult should consume between 0.8-1.8gm/kg. If you're mostly sedentary, then you need the low end, if you're an active athlete, you need on the high end.

So, for example, a 130lbs (59kg) woman who is a casual exerciser, might need 0.8g/kg. So she would need 47 gm of protein a day.

Now, 15 cups of broccoli might sound like a lot... but actually, if you consider all the other great sources of high protein greens out there, and then mix in other protein sources like nuts. You're not eating an unrealistic amount of vegetables to get to your protein needs just on vegetables.

Some other examples...

  • 1 Cup of Kale - 2g... PQS 92!
  • 1 Cup of Zucchini - 2g... PQS 89!
  • 1 Cup of Sweet Potato - 4g!! PQS 82
  • 1oz Cashews, Raw - 5g - PQS 100!!!! Wow!
  • 1oz Macadamia Nuts - 2g - PQS 4 - Sad Face, but oh well. BUT -- complimentary with Mushrooms which give you 1g per "whole mushroom"

Anyway... I just wanted to throw this out there. I do think its very feasible for a vegan or vegetarian to stay 100% Whole30 compliant and still have a very macro and micro nutrient rich diet.

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Ack! Vegetarian! If you're a moderator and can fix my spelling mistake in the topic title, that would be cool. Thanks!

Done: Tom Denham

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Note: I'm not a certified nutritionist or any kind of a medical expert. I am however, and expert eater! And I love to think about how to use whole food ingredients to make healthy and nutrient rich meals.

I tried to think about food I like to eat, that's (afaik) Whole 30 compatible. But doesn't have any animal products in it, including no eggs. With a goal of getting to 48g of protein, by just eating vegetables. This is what I came up with.

Here's a mini VEGAN (non-lacto-ovo-vegetarian) meal plan I threw together along the lines of thinking above...

This comes to 48g of protein, and about 1500 kCals. You could certainly add in more fruits and other less protein rich vegetables to add more flavor and calories to this meal. You could also add in other fat/oil sources but this still comes out to 50% fat, so it's actually very “metabolically efficient†too (which would be one of my goals as an endurance athlete, but I didn't have that in mind when I made this).

The one “concern†I have in this, would be the ¼ cup of cashews. I am not clear on whether or not Dallas and Melissa would say that's too much nuts. But it's such a good source of protein for this “all plant†menu, that's why I included it. I also haven't calculated the Omega 6:3 ratio for this, but my gut says, it's probably not too bad.

  • Breakfast:
    • Fruit & Nut Bowl - 11g Protein - ~450 kCals
      • ½ cup melon
      • ½ cup pineapple
      • ½ cup grapes -
      • ¼ cup cashews - 7g
      • ½ cup sweet potatoes - 2g

    [*]Lunch:

    • Large Salad - 20g Protein - ~600 kCals
      • 3 cups Romaine - 3g
      • 3 cups Spinach - 3g
      • ½ cup Artichoke Hearts, steamed, chopped - 2g
      • ½ cup broccoli - 2g
      • 1 whole “Florida†avocado - 7g
      • 3 sliced mushrooms - 3g
      • 1 Tbps Olive oil (dressing)
      • 1 Tspn Balsamic Vinegar (dressing)

    [*]Dinner:

    • Stir fried greens - 17g Protein - ~500 kCals
      • 4 cups Kale - 8g
      • 3 sliced mushrooms - 3g
      • 1 cup red cabbage - 1g
      • ½ cup bamboo shoots - 4g
      • ¼ cup red onion - 0.5g
      • 4 cloves garlic - 1g
      • 2 Tbsp Coconut Oil

MyVegetarianWhole30 likes this

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Holy Cow! That's a huge salad!!! It's actually quite interesting that you posted this as I was just playing around with a meal plan yesterday for the very same thing. Here is what I came up with

Breakfast: Large Green Smoothie -Hemp Protein, 2 cups greens (spinach and kale), Green Apple, Lemon Juice, Avocado, 1/2 cucumber *** I know smoothies are not allowed but I despise salads and I didn't know how else to get the extra protein in.

2-3 eggs

Lunch : Homemade Sunflower Burgers wrapped in Butter Lettuce and topped with Shredded spinach, Salsa, Avocado

Strawberries, Blackberries, and Blueberries

Dinner: A Lot of Broccoli and Carrots Steamed/sauteed in Coconut Oil with red pepper, salt, and black pepper

Butternut Squash with cinnamon and nuts

The sunflower Burgers are made with tons of veg - mushrooms, kale, carrots, lots of bell pepper, etc. They do however have quinoa in them so I need to find a sub for this - maybe crumbled tempeh.

This is merely vegetarian ;) with the eggs. But I couldn't get the calories up without them. As it is, this plan is only at like 900 calories and just meets the protein requirement for my 125lb frame at 54 grams.

I gave this menu a try yesterday and the food was delish, but, I have to be honest that I was hungry all day. The smoothie and eggs did not last my like my egg and side pork breakfast of the last few weeks. I'd love any ideas for tweaking this since I'm thinking about doing this next attempt at Whole as a vegetarian. I start again on Tuesday!

cheetahgirlsurf likes this

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I think if you're willing to eat eggs... then you should have no problem getting your protein and calorie needs from adding eggs to every meal. There are no provable risks to eating that many eggs, especially when you're eating Whole30.

I agree, that without eggs, that's a lot of vegetables! It's a lot of bulk of food.

To get more calories, I encourage you to add healthy fats... the calories add up, and again, there's really no downside.

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Yes. Fats will help. Just gotta watch myself with nuts- I tend to have no breaks here. As for eggs, I just don't like them enough to eat more than once a day ;)

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how do you hold all the veggies to hold together in the burger? I'm with you on the eggs - really don't like them, but can manage a few at breakfast (with LOTS of veggies mixed in!!!) =)

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A couple thoughts on eggs.

Try to think of eggs as water or milk. Which is to say, just mix them in to anything else you might eat. If you break an egg and mix it in, it will almost disappear into whatever you mixed it into.

For example, lets say you are going to eat some roasted winter squash: butternut, acorn, spaghetti, pumpkin, etc. once you've roasted it enough to scrape it out of the shell, you can mix it in a bowl with a couple eggs. 1/2 cup of squash to two eggs. The eggs will disappear from a texture, flavor, and visual perspective. But not from a nutritional perspective. So take the baked/roasted squash, add the eggs; and then bake it for a few more minutes. You could also fry it together as a hash or mix it and microwave it.

Also consider making a "casserole" or something like a quiche or frittata. If you add enough other veggies like zucchini, mushrooms, squash, onions, kale, etc., the flavors of the vegetables will overwhelm the eggs. The eggs help give the dish structure, and nutritionally they give you protein, but the veggies dominate the flavor and texture.

Other places to hide eggs: mayonnaise. If you haven't already made your own mayonnaise or aioli from scratch, you should try that ASAP! It's a good source of healthy fats and it doesn't taste like eggs but it has egg in it. Unfortunately it doesn't have a ton of protein, but at least it's a new way to eat an egg.

Good luck.

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jtota, thanks for sharing, i'm going to check out your blog. i'm not vegan but vegetarain with soy and gluten intolerances (which i think are off limits for paleo anyway) so i was wondering what to eat and was looking for some guidance with meal planning:)

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jtota, also, soy is off limits for paleo and i believe you're using tempeh in your burgers? or have you adjusted them w/o soy?

Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).

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jtota, also, soy is off limits for paleo and i believe you're using tempeh in your burgers? or have you adjusted them w/o soy?

Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).

The rules for vegetarians are different then the regular whole30. Tempeh is actually on the preferred shopping list for vegetarians and tempeh is fermented so I believe that makes a difference. Edamame are also allowed for vegetarians. There is a vegetarian shopping list in section for ISWF downloads. Thanks for watching out for me though :)

And thanks for the interest in the blog. I am very new at blogging so it is very rough. It's really meant to be a place for me to keep track of how I am feeling throughout the process. And I can't promise that it will always be focused on vegetarian foods - that's part of the experiment for me ;) Please stop by and feel free to share your thoughts, experiences. I am always learning!

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oh!! good to know, jtota! i was wondering what the heck i was going to eat as i don't cook fish for myself at home very often.. i just downloaded the veg list. thx!!

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Hi - I've just stumbled across the Whole 30, but really have trouble eating most meat, for spiritual reasons primarily. I'm very much wanting to find a home here in Whole 9 Land, but am way overstimulated trying to figure this out! I end a 60 juice fast this weekend, and want to start eating again in the WHole 9 spirit of things. Is there a "mostly vegetarian" source I can find to help me figure this out? Thank you! Marjie

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Website for the Whole30 program: http://whole9life.com/category/whole-30/

Includes rules, shopping lists, etc. Their book, "It Starts with Food" is also worth the read, if you're interested in the logic & science behind the program...makes sense to me! The book also has really handy meal plan ideas & food prep instructions, as well as some really yummy recipes. HIGHLY recommend it!

I'm a vegetarian of 25+ years & am on Day 17 - you can check out my Facebook blog for ideas & support - http://www.facebook.com/MyVegetarianWhole30.

Vegetarians CAN do Whole30...just with a few modifications! I'm feeling better than I have in a LOOOOONG time! Wish I had started sooner!

Maralo likes this

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Website for the Whole30 program: http://whole9life.co...egory/whole-30/

Includes rules, shopping lists, etc. Their book, "It Starts with Food" is also worth the read, if you're interested in the logic & science behind the program...makes sense to me! The book also has really handy meal plan ideas & food prep instructions, as well as some really yummy recipes. HIGHLY recommend it!

I'm a vegetarian of 25+ years & am on Day 17 - you can check out my Facebook blog for ideas & support - http://www.facebook....getarianWhole30.

Vegetarians CAN do Whole30...just with a few modifications! I'm feeling better than I have in a LOOOOONG time! Wish I had started sooner!

Hey I was just checking out your FB page and it is really great! Looks like you are doing so well. I gotta ask - what's the deal with kefir? What is it and what does it taste like? I like the idea of using to mix hemp protien powder vs making a smoothie which is "illegal". And, are you making your own kefir? How does that work?

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Thanks! I am making my own kefir. It is soooo easy to make & sooo much cheaper than buying it (if you even have any luck finding any plain, unsweetened/unflavored kefir in the store). You need some kefir grains (about 1 Tbsp per cup of milk) - a friend gave me some, but you can also buy it online, or maybe from a healthfood store. I put the grains & 1 cup of whole organic cow's milk per Tbsp (the grains grow - I started with about 1 T, but now have about 2, so I use 2 cups milk) into a Mason jar. Screw the lid on tight & let sit on the counter (not refrigerated!) for 24 hours. Then pour the kefir through a strainer to catch the grains (I pour over/into my blender), then dump the grains into a clean Mason jar, add 1 cup milk per Tbsp. grains, screw lid tightly, then wait another 24 hours - sooo easy! The grains "eat" the sugars in the milk & ferment it. Similar to what yogurt bacteria do, but yogurt has 7 bacteria and kefir has 30+! Really good for your gut! It tastes pretty much like plain Greek yogurt, but runnier. I was fine drinking it plain, but decided to add the hemp protein and a small amount of frozen berries (to mask the hemp taste) to increase the protein count. - technically it is a smoothie, but I'm drinking it with lots of veggies on the side, and it's the only way I could figure to "tastefully" add the hemp protein into my meals.

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That sounds easy enough. Just have to find the grains. And adjust to buying cow's milk again - haven't done that in a LONG time :P

How are you feeling on your vegetarian Whole 30? DO you think you are getting the same benefits as everyone else?

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I had an "incident" with one of my kombucha batches yesterday when my 4 year old stepped in it...so I decided to buy a new SCOBY and start completely from scratch. I found a nice big one on Etsy from kombuchalady. She also sells kefir grains. Other people may sell them on there, as well. Make sure they are milk grains & not the water grains (which will just give you the probiotic benefits & not the added protein). I don't think the cow's milk in kefir has the same effects on people as plain cow's milk b/c the kefir is fermenting the milk & changing the properties (don't ask me how, specifically, but it is a little different than "normal" milk).

I am feeling so good on my vegetarian W30!!! I really can't believe how quick it's gone (I'm on Day 29 today) or how easy it's been (not saying prepping food isn't a lot of work, but as far as cravings, feeling satisfied & satiated go, it's been EASY!). I don't know if I'm getting the "same" benefits as the meat-eaters, but I'm definitely seeing a lot of benefits and eating meat is just not an option for me, so there was really no other way to do it for me, and really no way to compare to the meat-eaters b/c there's such a range of benefits that they experience. BUT, yes, I would recommend W30 (vegetarian or meat-eater) to anyone & my only regret is that I didn't start this sooner.

Kirsteen likes this

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That's so great to see that this is really working for a vegetarian. One more question . . . Did you eat any tempeh, tofu, beans? They are all on the vegetarian shopping list so I am wondering if we can in fact eat beans in occasion.? Part of what appeals too me about the vegan diet is all the beans, etc. Also, did you always have protein of some kind with every meal or do you think it's ok to maybe just grab some fruit and nuts in hurry or at work?

It is no secret around here that I have had trou ble switching to meat and finishing a whole 30. I just look at meat and then at beans and I can't help but think the beans look so much healthier (and lighter). Am I crazy? Am I "brainwashed" as some would say? I think I wanna eat meat, I guess. It would make dinner at my house way easier. We have not made just one meal for dinner in a very long time. But, I have some issues now when eating a lot of meat - itchy skin, joint pain, hair fall, a lot of fluid retention, and crazy "lady issues". That makes it really hard to fully commit.

Anyway, that's probably more than you care to know about my issues. I am inspired by you and what you've accomplished.

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Well, I'm glad I'm inspiring someone =) The program actually speaks for itself! I have a few friends that have already started their own W30 after seeing how good my husband & I are looking/feeling. And for me it wasn't an option of whether or not it would work as a vegetarian. I've been a vegetarian for 25+ years & there is no possibility of me eating meat (including fish).

Have you read Melissa & Dallas's book, It Starts with Food? You can definitely do W30 without reading the book (by blindly following the rules & shopping lists), BUT I would STRONGLY suggest reading it! It explains why the off-limit foods are off-limits and what they do internally to our bodies – GREATLY increased my motivation for doing/sticking with the program! It also goes into a little more detail about vegetarian options.

The best source of protein for vegetarians is animal protein (eggs, fish, etc.). Personally I consider fish a meat & have never cared for it, even when I did eat meat. I can handle eggs IN things, but really do not like anything that tastes egg-y. I tried doing eggs with LOTS of spinach, garlic & veggies with salsa in the beginning, but just couldn't do it anymore. So I made up the Pumpkin Pie/Souffle and that's become a breakfast “staple†for me.

The next best protein source they recommend, if dairy is an option, is pastured, organic, fermented sources like yogurt of kefir. You could also have whey protein powder from grass-fed, organic sources, which I've found to be way too expensive for my budget.

If you don't eat any animal products, or if you need more protein, your best choices are minimally processed, fermented soy products like tempeh or natto or organic edamame. You can also use nonfermented soy (like extra-firm tofu) & various legumes in rotation (following a 12-24 hr. process to reduce the anti-nutrient & inflammatory compounds. Hemp or pea protein is also an option. (**I copied most of that verbatim from their book**).

So basically I'm trying to stay as close to the top of their list of preferred proteins as possible. I'm basically doing eggs, yogurt, kefir & pea protein (which is not at the top, but was a good option for me). Pre-W30 I ate a LOT of bean and soy-based vegetarian products (as well as dairy). I've read about the many problems with soy over the past few years & have sort of been “weaning†it out of my diet (even though I really liked the flavor of many of them & it was very convenient). During W30 I have not used tempeh or natto or edamame, but I did use one block of extra-firm tofu to make the double-batch of sunflower/veggie burgers I made (the recipe called for tempeh, but I have the tofu in the fridge…). I also decided not to eat any beans after reading the section in the book about the effects of beans, and, since it was previously such a big part of my diet, wanted to see how things would go without eating them. I also feel the same about any soy product, which is why (other than the burgers) I've avoided it.

They also recommend in the book to have a “complete†meal of protein, fat & veggies every time you eat, even if you need a snack (just have a mini meal). I have stuck with this most of the time. There's been a few times when I was on the go that I just grabbed an apple or cashews to tide me over until I was able to sit down & eat, but I've really tried to stick to their recommendations. Eating these 3 things is what satisfies our bodies' need for nutrients & makes us feel full. This is what makes us not need to snack & helps stop the cravings. I'm sure it won't kill you to not eat all 3 every now & then (as I didn't is a pinch), but if you're not following their plan, it's not going to work…and it REALLY does work!!!

BUT, there's no one telling you you have to do Whole30. It's up to you to decide if you really want to do it & if you're going to follow through. If you want to eat some meat & supplement with some of the recommended vegetarian protein options, why not, especially if you're seeing negative effects from eating too much meat, but don't want to give it up completely. You may be better off than me doing it completely vegetarian. But I would stick to the plan as much as possible because there are reasons why they “banned†certain foods/food groups (again, read the book!!!)

One of my favorite parts in It Starts with Food is their analogy they call “Cat Math†on p.204. They say to imagine you are allergic to cats but own ten of them. You decide you are fed up with your allergies & get rid of nine of your cats. Your symptoms may improve, but they will not go away entirely because you still have a cat! Same thing with eliminating some, but not all of the problematic foods. (LOVE this analogy!!!)

And I agree, making different meals stinks! My hubby is also doing W30, as a meat-eater. He buys a bunch of meat & cooks it up on the weekends. Then he puts individual servings into freezer bags & storage containers & refrigerates/freezes it. I make the vegetable portion of our meals & he will heat up some of his meat to add. I add in either yogurt or kefir (or sometimes both) & my pumpkin/egg souffle in the morning. We have not switched our 3 little kids 100% to W30, so we usually feed them at least part of our meal, then supplement it with something else.

You CAN do this!!! It really is not hard. I did not experience any of the negative feelings as described in the timeline (but if I had I would have been OK with it, having been “warned†beforehand) and I started feeling soooo much better after 2-3 days! The hardest thing is to prepare whatever you can ahead of time & plan your meals as much as you can. They suggest having a few “go-to†meals that you can easily throw together when in a pinch. Also, pack along your healthy protein/veggie/fat meals whenever you are on the go to eliminate the possibility of going off-plan.

Sorry this reply got so long! Saw that you “liked†my page – look forward to keeping in touch! =) http://www.facebook.com/MyVegetarianWhole30

chick256 and Kirsteen like this

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Absolutely fantastic post, thank you so much for posting it. I'm going to bookmark it and recomend it to everyone who wonders if W30 will work as a vegetarian. I'm so glad you got good results from it. I agree with your previous post, it's impossible to compare your results with meat eaters but then I think it's really impossible to compare anyone's results with anyone else, because we all bring our own issues and problems to it. So well done and again thank you for posting this.

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Thanks, Kirsteen! Today is Day 30! I plan to continue at least 30-60 days more before trying any introductions. BUT, tomorrow (Day 31) I will weigh & measure, so I'll let you know how that goes. Weight loss was definitely one of my objectives, but the reason I did W30 over just "dieting" was because of the many other issues I was experiencing - all of which have improved significantly. So, regardless of my weight & measurements, I am already extremely pleased with my experience!

Kirsteen and Brad Hefta-Gaub like this

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