General Question

SoiledSoles's avatar

What is your opinion of this way of eating?

Asked by SoiledSoles (106points) February 13th, 2017

I am considering participating in a permanent lifestyle that will change my diet forever. The diet has a few iterations, but the branch I will be following most closely is Dr. Esselstyn’s diet.

This diet is called Whole Food Plant Based No Oil, low fat. It is essentially a vegan macro diet, but it is rather specific. Forks over knives a wildly popular documentary promotes this lifestyle.

On it, one eats only plant based foods, with a diet high in complex carbohydrates and starches. There is no room for extracted oils of any sort. No room for animal products, at all. B12 supplementation is advised. Beans and legumes are limited slightly. There is no other limitation to speak of besides the avoidance of caffeine, and coffee in any form.

Looking for honest expert answers, thanks.

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63 Answers

Sneki95's avatar

Do whatever you want, just be careful. Just because it’s healthy for others doesn’t mean it will be healthy for you. Don’t ruin your body, be careful of what you do. You may as well end up with even bigger problems if you change your diet so suddenly. You are cutting off a big part of your diet.
And take it slow. It probably won’t last long if you do it out of the blue.

Just sayin’.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I tried a vegan diet In university and I ended up losing 100 lbs (I was 6’5” at the time so It almost killed me) . Make changes slowly and give your body a chance to adapt.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Why do you want to do that, and do you honestly think you can sustain it for the rest of your life?

Cruiser's avatar

I went on a similar diet for 21 days and shed a ridiculous amount of weight. It was very depleting at first and your have to get very creative with your foods. This diet we did was also restrictive but allowed for some wiggle room. We were allowed coconut oil and Ghee for the reason both are good fats and easily digested. We were encouraged to stay off of regular rice and instead use Basmati rice which again was easier to digest. As others have pointed out I would ease into something that sounds like a pretty dramatic change in diet. Listen to your body and make smart choices that work for you.

For some good Vegan recipes and cooking tips I love Thug Kitchen Their recipes are F&^%‘n great!

Ltryptophan's avatar

I like thug kitchens recipes… :D

Seek's avatar

I need to get better at eating lower-fat – not because yay fad dieting, but because I simply cannot digest fats well, and that’s at odds with the fact that fat is fucking delicious.

That no caffeine thing can take a flying leap, right off the bat.

NO oils ever? So no cookies, no bread, no sauteed vegetables, no stir fry.

Beans and legumes are limited and no animal products at all… where do you get protein? Surely you’re not thinking a solely soy-based protein source? That amount of phytoestrogens could cause serious trouble for you if you’re male or have a family history of breast cancer.

And if you’re diabetic, forget it. This is an insulin nightmare.

SoiledSoles's avatar

Any advice from an RD, or other expert for or against?

Seek's avatar

OMG. So I’m looking at the Forks over Knives website and the FIRST question on the FAQ is “What about protein?”

and their answer is basically “lol protein wut?”

Yeah… this is a bad diet.

Cruiser's avatar

@Seek We would cook fair amounts of Quinoa which is high on the list of proteins so are black beans and combine the two, chopped onions and the right Mexican spices and you can make a killer taco meat substitute. Asparagus and avocados helped with the protein fix and a few cashews in a smoothie will do the trick for a rich creaminess you will be craving. We drank almond and coconut milks or cooked oatmeal with and oatmeal is another good source of protein. Smoothies was a big part of my diet as I sipped it for half the day and saved the chore of cooking shit is really did not want to eat. Simply blend it and chug it.

Soups were another big part of the diet. Start a big pot of a veggies soup and sip the broth in the day and by dinner you had veggie stew. Fresh herbs and spices are crucial to not going postal on these diets.

Seek's avatar


It’s just the latest in the long list of Rich White People diets.

“It’s so easy! Just put $25 worth of produce into a blender and pretend you’re not still hungry!”

Seek's avatar

They even organize week long rich white people retreats!

AshlynM's avatar

I really have no opinion of these kinds of diets but if it’s what you want to do, I agree you should start off slowly.

Dutchess_III's avatar

And stay with it for life or it’s pointless.

cazzie's avatar

Nope. I didn’t do great with the material I tried to read from the library about biochemistry, but one of the things that really stuck with me is that we need to ingest different types of fats. Unless you are going to eat a lot of rice bran, macadamia nuts, coconut etc, I doubt you’re going to get enough lipids and fats, and you won’t get enough protein. Unless you are extremely careful, your body is going to eat itself from lack of protein and you can even lose some of your higher brain function.
Here’s something about taking a B12 suppliment: Most multi-vitamins sold today are a complete waste of money when it comes to their B12 quality and absorption potential.
Part of the reason vitamin B12 is so difficult to absorb and requires an additional protein—intrinsic factor—that binds to vitamin B12 and allows your body to absorb it into your bloodstream is because it is a massively large molecule when compared with other vitamins.

Because it is far larger than any other vitamin, it requires extraordinary measures to actually push this molecule into your blood. But if your body doesn’t produce enough stomach acid, which can occur as you age and also with other conditions like indigestion, heartburn and gastric reflux disease (GERD), then you’re not producing enough intrinsic factor either.
(those of us who take Multi B’s recognise this as that ‘B-burp’ we sometimes get.)

Fortunately, a technology has been developed that can reduce the effective size of the vitamin B12 molecule and help you absorb it into the fine capillaries under your tongue. The delivery system for these microscopic droplets of vitamin B12 is a fine mist you spray into your mouth, which bypasses the intrinsic factor problem and is much easier, safer and less painful than having your doctor inject you with a vitamin B12 shot.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

My opinion is that it sucks. At least incorporate some fish, eggs and olive oil into it.
My doctor used to give “homework” to his patients and reading this book once was on the list. It’s not now.
Diets are made more complicated than they need to be. Eat mostly vegetables, choose lean meats in small amounts, avoid refined fats and sugars keep your calorie intake where it needs to be.

JLeslie's avatar

I’m always in favor of a vegan diet. It might be too strict regarding oils, unless you are also eating fatty foods like avocados, but low fat is good in general in my opinion.

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

Study after study comes to the same conclusion that diets don’t “work.” The reason is most likely because they follow rigid guidelines that are unsustainable (and usually unnecessary) for the majority of people. Most people will benefit from a balanced diet that includes all of the foods that they like in moderation while nurturing a healthy relationship with food and exercise.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Right @ANef_is_Enuf. And going “on” a diet implies an end to it. Then what? Although the OP is talking about a life time change. So she just needs to make sure she can actually live with it forever.

I never have gotten my damn caramel glazed donut. >< >< >< ><

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Dutchess_III yes, exactly, but we love to create a loophole there by changing the language rather than the behavior. I’m not “going on a diet,” I’m making “a lifestyle change” by going on this restrictive diet that I won’t call a diet. It’s a bizarre habit that we have normalized and it’s completely illogical. Restricting entire groups of foods or eliminating specific foods from the diet entirely, especially foods that we love, is simply unsustainable for most people. They work in the short term for weight loss and improved energy and mood, but in the long run they are shown to fail this is not a secret. If one worked, we would all know about it, because it would be the holy grail of diets/lifestyle changes. But, it’s hard to even talk about that because the idea that if you just do ABC and eliminate XYZ, you have the perfect and simple solution to longevity and a slim waistline is so deeply ingrained in our beliefs that it’s almost untouchable despite very little evidence to support it as true. Small, sustainable changes, enjoyable activity, all foods in moderation, developing a healthy relationship with eating and your body image, those are habits that are grounded in evidence, but they have been conflated with diet industry bullshit and most people can’t tell the difference anymore. We don’t really care what is true or reasonable, we are terrified of dying and we just want to be thin.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yes. I agree. However, I really did change my eating habits some 30 years ago and I’ve never put that weight back on because it wasn’t “a diet.”

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

@Dutchess_III yes, I have also done the same (more like 15 years) but it’s one of several reasons that I feel so strongly about the subject.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Diets don’t fundamentally change behavior. You can’t permanently fix a long-term issue with temporary patches.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I feel very strongly about it too @ANef_is_Enuf. I just watch people spinning their wheels and just shake my head.

SoiledSoles's avatar


Many of these answers are ill-informed, closed minded, and did not answer the question with enough specificity to matter. There are genuine helpful answers here, but not specific expert cautions.

I don’t want to know about your opinion of fad diets. I want to know why you EXPERTLY think THIS lifestyle is point by point unhealthy. If you want to just blast anything that doesn’t fit your lay person understanding of nutrition please keep moving.

Avoid answers that are just a useless commentary with no substantive sciency criticism.

Just weighing in on what you think is best, or what you and your doctor recommend is not helpful.

Please don’t waste any more of your time commenting back to me, if you don’t know or don’t have facts. Just move on and unfollow the question. THANKS IN ADVANCE

Seek's avatar

… my “sciency opinion” is this diet is a bad idea. This is informed by the fact that it is almost completely lacking in protein and is so sugar-rich it could easily kill a diabetic.

Most people will also feel incredibly hungry on a high carb, no fat diet, because protein is what keeps us feeling full.

If one feels hungry, they’re less likely to stick to this diet. Which, honestly, is probably a good thing in this case.

You need a certain amount of fat to be healthy.

This is a perfectly fine short term diet for someone who wants to impress their friends and drop some weight for a special occasion.

Is it sustainable for a lifetime? No.

SoiledSoles's avatar

Why do you think there is not enough protein? Oatmeal, potatoes, wheat, beans, rice, mushrooms, all have loads of protein. Also oats, rice, wheat also have fat. Omega-3’s are available in chia, and flax, and kale.

Hunger itself is a product of nutrient deficiency. This diet contains every essential nutrient in abundance except b-12 and that is supplemented with specific whole food supplements. I know many people who have eaten this way for some time and have reversed type II diabetes and brought type I under much better control. Not to mention the major breakthrough in long term cardiovascular healing I have seen with my own eyes. This diet is the cure for atherosclerosis I really believe that.

I used to believe that the idea of eating a diet that was based on moderation was best, but this is taking the place very quickly. Just go look at All the information is there in much more scientific terms than we are discussing… In fact if you pick a specific point of contention I will link you to something informative to refute you out of hand.

Seek's avatar

If you already know everything, why did you bother asking? Are you getting affiliate compensation for recommending this quack diet?

SoiledSoles's avatar

I want expert educated refutation, if it is available. Why are you still on this thread without the expert advice I requested? To hear yourself think? I politely asked anyone without expert information on a point by point refutation to not bother answering. So why are you trying to wing it??

Seek's avatar

This is pretty good, too:

One of the key points of research that is made in Forks Over Knives is that rodents who were administered Aflatoxin, which is one of the worst carcinogens known to mankind right now, and ate 20% animal proteins were more likely to develop cancer than animals administered Aflatoxin that had 5% animal protein diets. Remarkably Aflatoxin has its origins in a fungus, which would be considered part of the Forks Over Knives diet.

There were three problems with this statement.
1. The conditions of cancer were suddenly present in all of the animals because of the administration of a known carcinogen.
2. The primary protein that the rodents were fed was casein, which is a dairy protein, not a meat protein.
3. The animals that were given a low protein diet actually lived shorter lives than the animals on the high protein diet.

The animals with the high protein diet certainly had more malignant tumors, but they lived longer lives. This was despite the fact that massive doses of Aflatoxin, designed to be fatal, would be administered. With these claims backing up the science of the diet, it is easy to see why Forks Over Knives doesn’t make the grade and is considered a hoax.

SoiledSoles's avatar

now we’re moving the ball…

the first wiki on forks over knives isn’t at all persuasive, it’s like a commentary that leaves you only with plausible doubts…

still reading the rest

SoiledSoles's avatar

Same for the skeptical cardiologist, it is simply a plausible doubt piece.

Seek's avatar

Plausible doubt is all you need.

The question isn’t “Why shouldn’t I try this diet?”, it’s “Is there sufficient evidence that this diet is beneficial to merit making a significant life change?”

If the person who came up with the diet did so mostly on a whim, and has only bad evidence (or none at all) to support his claims, then his claims can be dismissed.

SoiledSoles's avatar

I think you are mistaken. The diet is not about aflatoxin concentrations that’s one specific cancer reaction to animal products he’s listing. The chief issue with animal proteins is that it acts as an inflammatory agent in the blood vessels leading to heart disease.

I recommend a careful open minded reading of The China Study. If you are suffering from any of these illnesses I would highly recommend considering this way of life. If I had information that proved otherwise I would say so.

The most damning thing I can think of for this way of eating is that there may be some people in the world who are eating anything they want and have perfect health and all of their biostatistics are passing with flying colors. I don’t know these people, nor do I have a good example of them.

Sneki95's avatar

“What is your opinion of this way of eating?”
“I don’t want to know about your opinion of fad diets”

Make up your mind, bruh.

Seek's avatar

There are plenty of damning things about this diet.

It is highly restrictive to the point that it’s nearly impossible to follow long-term.
It is unnecessarily expensive.
There is no significant evidence that it is healthier than a balanced diet or contributes to a longer life.
The only arguments for the diet are made by people who are selling the diet books and overpriced salad dressing with the logo on it.
There is reasonable evidence that it actually contributes to a shorter lifespan, and contributes to several big-time cancers.

and perhaps most importantly…

it doesn’t allow you to have coffee or chocolate cake.

And if you can’t have cake and coffee, do you really want to live?

SoiledSoles's avatar

@Sneki95 I agree, I should have put experts only please…. I said that before you commented, and that is in the body of the question.

SoiledSoles's avatar

@Seek you’re totally off.
You can eat soo much and without worrying about portions or calorie counting.
Meat is the most expensive food people buy, the money you save from meat offsets ANYTHING you buy in this lifestyle.
There is evidence that it is healthier, that’s why it is called the CHINA STUDY, because the people in china have a more starch based diet based on rice and that has led to them having less cardiovascular disease.
It helps you avoid the main cause of death in the west, which is atherosclerosis.
The people who are proponents of this diet have books, THAT YOU CAN GO GET FROM YOUR LIBRARY. AND they have sites with tons of free info.

YOU CAN HAVE CHOCOLATE CAKE, just not with animal products… I make chocolate cake that tastes amazing, just as good as any chocolate cake I’ve had before this lifestyle.

As for coffee if you break down and have a coffee every now and then it’s not the end of the world. Just don’t put dairy based creamers.

You really are uninformed to try to answer this intelligently.

SoiledSoles's avatar

@Seek, please feel free to not comment. You have proven repeatedly now to be posting without evidence based concepts.

LornaLove's avatar

Why are you asking a bunch of random people if you want a scientific answer. Perhaps put your hand in your purse and pay for such advice.

Seek's avatar

“You can eat soo much and without worrying about portions or calorie counting.”
Yep, because there are practically no calories in lettuce.

“Meat is the most expensive food people buy, the money you save from meat offsets ANYTHING you buy in this lifestyle.”
Really? Because I can buy three months worth of meat for three people for less than $100. It’s the most filling thing I purchase, and we eat meat or eggs almost every meal. You can also store meat in frozen form for six months or more at a time. A head of Romaine lettuce is $3.50, contains no calories to speak of, can be gone in an afternoon, and can’t be stored for more than a week.

“It helps you avoid the main cause of death in the west, which is atherosclerosis.”
And increases the risk of multiple forms of cancer and contributes to Parkinson’s.

Vegan cake is gross. That’s empirical fact.

SoiledSoles's avatar

@LornaLove haha I WAS NOT ASKING FOR LAY ADVICE…maybe just maybe an expert will see this and offer some knowledge.

Seek's avatar

An expert in what?

I mean, I could probably buy an Honorary Doctorate in Nutrition Science from some coconut-oil aromatherapy university for $20 if I wanted to.

Sneki95's avatar

@SoiledSoles I think you should ask this on Quora. There are no nutritionists here, but Quora is full of experts on various subjects, maybe someone there will give you what you ask for.

I’m not being hostile, I’m telling you out of best intentions.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Why do you want to go on this diet?

SoiledSoles's avatar

@Dutchess_III I chose this permanent lifestyle. It works. Thanks for your interest in this question, but unless you have expert advice please move forward. This is not me begging for medical help, I’m convinced I am doing the right thing already, I am just curious about what someone would say against it that I have not heard yet…. I’ve heard all these before they’re not scholarly…

Dutchess_III's avatar

I wondered if you want to lose weight or what? Do you feel unhealthy in some other way?

Dutchess_III's avatar

LOL! I just can’t figure out why she’s come to some random social networking site and demand expert advice, knowing nothing about this website. It’s odd. Your advice sounded pretty expert to me @Seek.
I guess what she really wanted to was just to be told how amazing her choice was. I just wish I knew why she’s making the choice. If it’s for weight loss only, then I’m pretty expert because I made a lifestyle choice 30 years ago. Sucessfully.

Cruiser's avatar

All I know is did a very similar diet and it worked in spades but it took a tremendous amount of discipline. I agree with @Seek about the fat/oils and we were “allowed” Ghee and Coconut oil to cook with and really helped with feeling normal/satiated. Avocados, cashews almond milk if allowed will save the day. Going back on the diet in one month.

jca's avatar

@SoiledSoles: If you want nutrition advice, you’re best to go to a nutritionist.

Your question stated “What is your opinion…” so you got opinions but didn’t like ones that disagreed with yours. You were given some links by a Jelly above but you didn’t like the information presented.

If you post a question on Fluther, you have to expect that not everyone is going to agree with your opinions and thoughts.

If you go to a nutritionist and pay for their advice, you may not like what they tell you either.

I suggest you do a lot of googling, which is free.

Next, try the diet and see how it works for you, and get your blood levels checked on a regular basis to make sure you’re still healthy. See how the diet works for you as far as changes you’d like to see or feel in your body. That’s the bottom line. See if it works for you if you really want to try it. Just be careful.

cazzie's avatar

It’s a positive feed loop.

Seek's avatar

She means you’re only looking for validation of your pre-established conclusions, and will dismiss anything that doesn’t agree with them.

SoiledSoles's avatar

No, I will dismiss anything that does not have some scientific basis. A study, or a set of reasonable well thought out conclusions, with some sophisticated understanding of nutrition.

Seek's avatar

But the diet itself has no scientific basis… So why didn’t you dismiss it?

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Seek has well thought-out conclusions.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Even some of the shittiest most unreasonable diets have a scientific basis. Atkins is scientifically proven to work but it’s not healthy for you long-term.
I have been on the forks over knives diet, I spent a couple years as a vegan before that. In the end you just have to eat reasonably and get your exercise. You can follow it if you want but you will come to the conclusion that being too strict with your diet likely causes more problems than it solves.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, scientifically speaking, it’s pretty obvious that it’s not a healthy human diet. We are not herbivores, like horses. Our digestive systems and nutrient requirements are not designed for a strictly vegetarian, no oil diet, nor are we designed to live strictly on animal protein, like cats.
The problem in 1st world countries today is not so much what we eat—we have plenty of healthy foods at our finger tips—but too many people have lost the concept of moderation. Plus we don’t work as physically hard as our ancestors did.
We have the luxury of being super duper picky about what we eat to the point it’s detrimental to our over all health.

cazzie's avatar

Methodology: A panel of nationally recognized experts in diet, nutrition, obesity, food psychology, diabetes and heart disease reviewed our profiles, added their own fact-finding and rated each diet in seven categories: how easy it is to follow, its ability to produce short-term and long-term weight loss, its nutritional completeness, its safety and its potential for preventing and managing diabetes and heart disease. We also asked the panelists to let us know about aspects of each diet they particularly liked or disliked and to weigh in with tidbits of advice that someone considering a particular diet should know.

Does this suffice?

cazzie's avatar

and what I meant by a positive feedback loop is that the more you eat like this, the less likely you are to feed your brain so it works so you can make rational decisions.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Surprise surprise, Dash wins and it’s basically “don’t eat junkfood” Shocker.

Seek's avatar

Well, it’s a balanced, moderate (healthy) fat and low sodium diet.

It doesn’t make broad claims like “if you need to use a knife don’t eat it” or “eating turkey breast will give you diabetes and heart disease”.

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