plant-based program rules
The Plant-Based Whole30 Program Rules

You can have it all. 100% plant-based, 100% life-changing

Designed for vegans, vegetarians, and anyone curious about adopting a plant-based diet.

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30 days to radically transform your health, habits, and relationship with food

Your 30-day self-experiment can bring a lifetime of food freedom

The Plant-Based Whole30 has two phases: 30 days of elimination and 12-30 days of reintroduction. During elimination, your meals will include beans, lentils, peas; whole or minimally processed forms of soy (like edamame, miso, natto, tofu, and tempeh); lots of vegetables and fruit; plant-based healthy fats; and fresh herbs, spices, and seasonings. You may also supplement with whole forms of plant-based protein powders like pea, hemp, pumpkin, or chia.

You won’t have to count or restrict calories, track your food, or limit portions. You’ll eat real, whole foods to satiety, inspired by hundreds of delicious, satisfying, and diverse plant-based recipes.

The list of foods you’ll eliminate in the first phase can seem intimidating. But you’ve got our community to support you; tons of free recipes, articles, and resources; and testimonials from people just like you who were also intimidated—until the program started to change their life.

Preview your plant-based journey with our helpful Whole30 Timeline. And remember, it’s only 30 days.

Whole30 Elimination: 30 days

This is a list of the food and beverage groups you’ll eliminate in the first phase of the Plant-Based Whole30 program. To accurately identify any specific food sensitivities, you must commit to the complete elimination of these groups for 30 straight days. Note, by definition, the Plant-Based Whole30 does not include animal protein (meat, seafood, or eggs), or animal-based dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt).

This includes agave nectar, brown sugar, cane sugar, coconut sugar, date syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, maple syrup, molasses, monk fruit extract, stevia (Truvia), saccharin (Sweet’N Low), sucralose (Splenda), aspartame (Equal, NutraSweet), erythritol, and xylitol. The only exception is 100% fruit juice (see the Fine Print).

This includes wine, champagne, beer, hard cider, hard kombucha, vodka, rum, gin, whiskey, tequila, etc. in any form (drinking, as an ingredient, or for cooking).

This includes wheat, rye, barley, triticale, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, sprouted grains, and pseudo-cereals like quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat. This also includes all the ways wheat, corn, and rice are added to foods in the form of bran, germ, starch, and so on.

This includes soybean oil, textured soy protein, textured vegetable protein, soy protein isolate, or soy protein concentrate.

This includes baked goods made with alternative flours (bread, tortillas, wraps, crackers, pizza or pie crust, biscuits, pancakes, crepes, waffles, muffins, cupcakes, cookies, and brownies); pasta or noodles made with alternative flour; cereals made with alternative flour; chips (including potato, sweet potato, tortilla, plantain, taro, or cassava chips); French fries or tots. (See the Pancake Rule.)

No stepping on the scale, taking measurements, or analyzing body fat during the 30-day elimination phase, please. This may be the hardest rule of them all, but please trust us. Your Plant-Based Whole30 is about so much more than weight loss, and fixating on body composition means you’ll miss out on a multitude of life-changing benefits this program has to offer. Read more about our perspective on the Whole30 and weight loss.

These foods are allowed during the elimination phase:

  • Fruit juice, even if used as a sweetener
  • Rice found in fermented soy (listed as an ingredient in miso or tempeh)
  • Coconut aminos (made from fermented coconut syrup)
  • Alcohol-based botanical extracts (like vanilla, lemon, or lavender)
  • Certain vinegars (champagne, red wine, sherry, white wine; or rice)
  • Iodized salt (which contains dextrose as a stabilizer)
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Whole30 Reintroduction: 12-30 days

Immediately after elimination, you’ll follow one of two reintroduction schedules: one that includes the reintroduction of animal products, and one that does not. You’ll reintroduce food groups one at a time, returning to the elimination phase for 2-3 days between each reintroduction group.

Added Sugar

Added sugar (optional)

Add some form of sugar to each of your Plant-Based Whole30 meals. (Ex: honey in your tea, sweetened coffee creamer, maple vinaigrette salad dressing, sweetened almond butter.)
corn

Non-gluten grains

Add rice, corn, oats, quinoa, buckwheat, or amaranth in any form to an otherwise Plant-Based Whole30 meal, for each of your meals that day.
Animal protein (optional)

Animal protein (optional)

Add beef, bison, lamb, chicken, turkey, wild game, pork, fish, shellfish, and/or eggs to an otherwise Plant-Based Whole30 meal, for each of your meals that day.
Dairy

Animal-sourced dairy (optional)

Add milk, cream, cheese, cottage cheese, kefir, yogurt, or sour cream to an otherwise Plant-Based Whole30 meal, for each of your meals that day.
bread

Gluten-containing grains

Add gluten-containing grains (wheat, rye, barley, or triticale) in any form (bread, rolls, pasta, crackers, wraps, cereal) to an otherwise Plant-Based Whole30 meal, for each of your meals that day.
Alcohol (optional)

Alcohol (optional)

Reintroduce alcohol (gluten-containing or gluten-free) to an otherwise Plant-Based Whole30 meal by enjoying 1-2 glasses of wine, beer, cider, or your liquor of choice.

Since April 2009, millions of people have successfully completed the Whole30 program with stunning, life-changing results.

Testimonials

They did it. You can, too.

Kristyn S.
There is no doubt that the Whole30 program had a huge hand in my preconception health and body’s preparedness to conceive: Kristyn’s Story
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Cathy headshot
I feel a sense of peace and serenity that I haven’t felt in years: Cathy’s Story
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Sabrina Pereira
Three weeks into Whole30, I was a new person. By the last day I knew that my life was forever changed. I felt AMAZING: Sabrina’s Story
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Jennifer H.
My PCOS symptoms completely vanished, and my diagnosis was removed entirely just one year later: Jennifer’s Story
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Maria B.
I cannot put into words how Whole30 has impacted my life: Maria’s Story
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Pri A.
By the end of my Whole30, I saw a dramatic difference in my energy levels: Pri’s Story
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jakelia-s-v2
My family needs me and I choose to be healthy: Jakelia’s Story
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Lauren|Lauren and her family
I dropped my cholesterol from 201 to 164: Lauren’s Story
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Through reintroduction, I learned how certain foods affect me, and how to make informed decisions about what I eat: Don’s Story
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Andy McIntosh
Whole30 changed my view of food: Andy’s Story
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From the Whole30 to lasting food freedom

From the Whole30 to lasting food freedom

Food freedom is the final stop on your Plant-Based Whole30 journey. You’ve worked hard during elimination and reintroduction to identify the foods that work best for you, create healthy habits, and reconnect with food and your body in a whole new way. Now, it’s time to take those learnings and create a joyful, sustainable diet for you, according to your definition of health.

In your food freedom, you’ll know which foods work best to support your energy, mood, and health—and which foods bring you unwanted symptoms. You’ll have the confidence to make decisions about when, how often, and how much to include these foods in your diet in a way that supports your lifestyle and goals. And the best part? You’ll enjoy complete freedom in your diet while retaining all of your Plant-Based Whole30 benefits, living and feeling your best.

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FAQs

The answers you need to start your Plant-Based Whole30

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Both programs offer a 30-day elimination and structured reintroduction period, with the goal of identifying food sensitivities, creating new habits, and restoring a healthy relationship with food. The Original and Plant-Based Whole30 programs differ only in their protein and fat sources, and in the length of time the programs have been available. The Original Whole30, founded in 2009, includes high-quality animal protein and encourages the use of some animal fats while eliminating legumes, including peanuts and soy. The Plant-Based Whole30 was launched in March 2022, after two years in development. The Plant-Based Whole30 does not include any animal protein and fats. It uses beans, lentils, peas, soy, compatible protein powders, nuts, and seeds to ensure adequate protein; and includes only plant-based fat sources.
A: Nope! Our Plant-Based Whole30 program was carefully designed to function as a stand-alone, discrete elimination and reintroduction protocol, and should be completed exactly as written. Use beans, lentils, peas, and soy to ensure adequate protein intake. If needed, supplement with a compatible plant-based protein powder. Then, use reintroduction to effectively evaluate how the addition of eggs and/or dairy works for your diet and body.
We discuss the specific research behind the elimination categories in our Science Behind Whole30 articles. It’s important to note that though these food groups are commonly problematic (to varying degrees, across a broad range of people), we aren’t eliminating them because they’re “bad.” There are no universally “good” or “bad” foods, and Whole30 does not assign morality to food. We eliminate these groups because they’re unknown—they can be problematic, and you won’t know exactly if or how they are problematic for you until you eliminate them, reintroduce them, and compare your experience. Read the Science Behind the Original Whole30, or the Science Behind the Plant-Based Whole30 articles.
The Plant-Based Whole30 includes legumes, soy, peanuts, and lentils to ensure you consume a variety of essential amino acids and sufficient protein. We recommend aiming for a minimum of 15 grams of protein from one or more protein sources at each of your four meals, adding nuts and seeds (like chia and hemp) to boost the protein content. If you’re active, an athlete, or have more muscle mass, you should also consider including a compatible plant-based protein powder at least once a day to supplement your protein needs. See this handout to learn more about plant-based protein sources.
Habit research says it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 (!) days to make a habit stick, depending largely on how emotionally tied you are to that habit. However, one study in 2021 found on average, a new habit takes 59 days to solidify. Creating new habits with food can be an emotional challenge, but asking someone to follow a strict elimination protocol for two months (or longer) isn’t reasonable or necessary for our purposes. In our decade-plus of clinical experience, we’ve found 30 days is the sweet spot. It’s long enough for you to see dramatic, life-changing results, but short enough to make the program feel attainable. (And when you factor in 10-14 days of reintroduction, you’re already three-quarters of the way to that 59-day benchmark!) *Source: The British Psychological Society
If you’re towards the end of your program and still not seeing digestive improvements, there could be a number of factors at play.
  • Time: Your gut flora and digestive enzymes may need time to adapt to the veggies and protein you’re consuming more of during your Whole30.
  • Fiber: You are likely eating far more fiber on your Whole30 (from vegetables and fruit, or on a Plant-Based Whole30, from legumes). A dramatic increase in fiber can lead to gas and bloating.
  • FODMAPs: An increase in fermentable carbohydrates from veggies and fruits (like onions, garlic, cauliflower, apples, or bananas) can promote the same symptoms.
  • Alternative flours: Even if you’re not baking with them, using large amounts of almond or cassava flour in frittatas, meatballs, or other meals can promote digestive distress.
  • Nuts or nut butters: This is another common culprit in digestive issues, especially if you’re consuming large quantities
  • Fats (like coconut oil, ghee, or coconut milk): Yes, coconut milk is delicious in a smoothie and your coffee may taste delicious with ghee, but eating too much fat for your context can promote digestive upset and diarrhea.
Your success strategies (aside from patience) include eating more cooked veggies than raw (like soups or stews instead of big salads), consulting our low-FODMAP shopping list and avoiding the red items for a few days to see if it helps, and eating all fruit in smaller portions. On a Plant-Based Whole30, try eating more soy and fewer legumes, soaking and sprouting your legumes, and choosing fermented varieties of soy, like tempeh and miso. You could also speak with your healthcare provider to see if a probiotic or digestive enzyme would be helpful. If at any point during your program, your digestive symptoms become concerning, please consult your doctor.
In some cases, this can be a good idea. Extending elimination to 45 or even 60 days might be helpful for those who have already seen marked improvements in their health condition, and believe extending elimination will bring further benefits. (This is especially true for those with autoimmune conditions or chronic pain or fatigue, which can be slower to respond to dietary interventions.) However, unless your healthcare provider recommends it, we suggest you limit elimination to no longer than 90 days. Note, if you just like the comfort the Whole30 rules provide or are anxious about the impact of reintroducing certain food groups (like grains or added sugar), those aren’t good reasons to extend your Whole30. Elimination programs like the Whole30 aren’t meant to be followed long-term. There may not be health benefits associated with you continuing to eliminate all of these food groups, and there can be negative mental health consequences from restricting food groups unnecessarily. The goal of the Whole30 is to help you create your own ideal, sustainable diet (your food freedom) and you won’t get there by continuing to follow our rules. Use the last week of your Whole30 elimination to prepare for reintroduction, and take one step closer to your own food freedom plan.
That’s not really a question, but we know what you mean. The Pancake Rule eliminates baked goods, foods-with-no-brakes, and treats, even if they’re made with technically compatible ingredients. Remember, the program isn’t just about identifying food sensitivities. It’s about creating new healthy habits, and examining your emotional relationship with food. You may not turn to all of the foods that fall under the Pancake Rule, but we ask that you eliminate them anyway. Think about it this way—if you’re not that into pancakes, tortillas, or potato chips, it should be easy to avoid them for 30 days.
A: It’s important to supplement certain nutrients on plant-based diets, since these nutrients are not as bioavailable, or as easily found in plants. The Plant-Based Whole30 medical advisory team recommends working with your healthcare provider to include the following supplements during your Plant-Based Whole30:
  • DHA & EPA from algae oil
  • A multivitamin that includes B12, zinc, iodine, selenium, magnesium, D3, K2, and choline
  • An iron supplement (if needed based on lab results)
Always follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations when it comes to supplementation, and consult with them before beginning any new dietary program.
Elimination diets are meant to be strictly followed—for good reason. Eating even small amounts of foods to which you are sensitive can disrupt the process and interrupt your healing. Complete elimination, on the other hand, can bring about improvements in any number of symptoms or negative health effects, and makes it easier to identify potentially problematic food(s) during reintroduction. Should you consume something from the elimination group during the first 30 days (accidentally or otherwise), we generally recommend starting your elimination over again from Day 1, to ensure you obtain as many benefits from the program as possible. However, you are responsible for your own Whole30. We’re going to give you our best recommendations based on science and our vast experience, but no one is going to come to your house to check up on you. To read more about this question, click here.
We’d really rather you not, but it’s not a rule. In our experience, tracking is most often associated with weight loss efforts. The very act of logging and counting calories, points, or macros can immediately put your brain into “eat less” mode, or create stress around the number. This can take your Whole30 into unhealthy territory, where you’re further restricting foods, macros, or calories unnecessarily. Don’t let a calorie-counting app mess with your head; your body knows how much you need to eat better than any calculator on the internet. Let the Whole30 reconnect you with your body, and let those signals (hunger, fullness, cravings, mood, energy, and athletic performance) guide your portions. Read this Dear Melissa article for more.
If that’s the case, please follow all of your healthcare provider’s recommendations. Your doctor’s orders always supersede Whole30 program rules. Work closely with your provider before, during, and after your Whole30 to ensure you are implementing the program in the way that is best for your context, health history, and goals.
Yes, it can. The Whole30 is contraindicated (not recommended) for those with a history of disordered eating. The Whole30’s elimination phase is a form of restriction (of food groups, rather than calories), and can lead to intense cravings, binging, and the reactivation of dormant disordered eating habits. (It can even promote such behaviors in those without a history of disordered eating. Current research suggests that some people are simply more susceptible for the development of eating disorders during certain dietary protocols.) If this is your context or if you are at all concerned, speak with a qualified therapist or healthcare provider before committing to the Whole30. Read this article with Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Emily Deans for more.
The Whole30 isn’t a weight-loss diet. The program can bring a huge number of non-scale victories (NSVs); improvements in energy, sleep, cravings, mood, digestion, chronic pain and fatigue, joint pain and swelling, acne, allergies, asthma, anxiety, migraines, and any number of symptoms. Those benefits will spill over into every area of your life—but they aren’t reflected on the scale! If you remain fixated on your body weight, you might not notice the other benefits you’re experiencing on the program. During your Whole30, give yourself a well-deserved break from the scale. Stop allowing the number to dictate your self-confidence and worth, and open yourself up to the magic that can happen when you change the food you put on your plate. If it’s really important to you, you can weigh yourself after your program is over—but before you do, please read this.
Yes. (Can we just say that?) Reintroduction is a necessary part of every elimination program. It’s where you learn the most about the way various foods impact you, and helps you identify food sensitivities or adverse reactions. Without reintroduction, you’ll miss half of the learning experience of the Whole30. (And that feels like a big bummer, considering how hard it is to give up the foods you love for 30 days.) Be patient, take your time with reintroduction, and use that knowledge to fuel your food freedom. We promise, it’ll be worth the extra few days. For more on Original Whole30 reintroduction, read this. For more on the Plant-Based Whole30 reintroduction, read this.
A: Absolutely, you can choose to reintroduce only specific animal proteins and/or dairy products on the Plant-Based Whole30. If the only animal proteins you’d consider eating are eggs, fish, and seafood, bring that back as one reintroduction group, eating eggs for breakfast, salmon for lunch, and shrimp for dinner. Then, return to your Plant-Based Whole30 elimination for 2-3 days. You can also choose to reintroduce any form of dairy, including high-protein options like greek yogurt or grass-fed whey protein, on its own reintroduction day, returning to the Plant-Based Whole30 elimination for 2-3 days following. For more on Plant-Based Whole30 reintroduction, read this.
Nope. We’ve arranged our reintroduction schedule in order of least likely to be problematic to most likely to be problematic, based on watching millions of people complete the program. However, you can reintroduce food groups in whatever order you choose. If you really miss oatmeal and rice, reintroduce non-gluten grains first. If you are desperate for that glass of wine, reintroduce alcohol first. Just make sure you only reintroduce one food group at a time, and return to the elimination diet for 2-3 days between each food group. For more on Original Whole30 reintroduction, read this. For more on the Plant-Based Whole30 reintroduction, read this.

The opinions and/or information presented in this article is in no way intended as medical advice or as a substitute for medical treatment, and should only be used in conjunction with the guidance, care, and approval of your physician. Nothing herein is intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always consult a qualified healthcare practitioner before making any dietary or lifestyle changes.