Getting Started on a Whole-Food, Plant-Based Diet

Below are notes on commencing a whole-food, plant-based diet that is the most advantageous for losing weight and becoming healthy.

For some, this can be very daunting because it involves changes to shopping, cooking, eating out as well as family and community relationships.

A lot of life is about habits – once you change a habit then it becomes the new “normal”.

The greatest form of insanity is to continue to do the same thing and expect different results – Zig Ziglar
Apia Market Samoa 2009
Apia Market Samoa

Samoa is small Pacific island nation consisting of 2 main islands with another 2 inhabited islands. Total population is slightly more than 200,000. In 2010, 80% were overweight with 25% diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

The 2 main islands consist of 350 villages with self-sufficiency being important.

Matuaileoo Environment Trust Inc (METI) introduced their Taiala program in 2018.

This program is an implementation of Colin Campbell’s Whole-Food, Plant-Based program based on The China Study. 1

There were significant differences in reversal rates between the villages, ranging from 93% to a low of 46%. Factors that influenced the outcomes were:

  • The presence of a respected leader in the village who had personally bene?ted from the WFPB diet and who could rally the community to action;
  • Supportive stakeholders, especially from the women’s committee (a traditional village institution);
  • A well trained Taiala selected and monitored by the women’s committee and trained by METI;
  • A three-hour health seminar provided by METI that explained the causes of NCDs and how to reverse them; and
  • The presence of family members or friends who could give active support and help patients stay the course.

According to the director of the Taiala program, Walter Vermeulen,

One critical component of this sustainable living is the adoption of a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet, which addresses many of the most costly and deadly health challenges affecting our small Pacific island nation.

The good news is that there is no best diet for weight loss and a different best diet for blood pressure, heart disease, autoimmune diseases and other “diseases of affluence”. The food manufacturing industry are anxious to prove that this in not the case. Their goal is to have supermarket shelves with special foods for each condition.

Check out these links for inspiration which gives an idea of the possibilities.

The video shows Michael Greger’s inspiring story how his grandmother at the age of 65, was transformed from a critical ill patient. Confined to a wheelchair with crippling pain from angina, she was sent home by her doctors to die. Frances Greger was one of Nathan Pritikin’s “death door’s patients”.

After three weeks, she was not only out of her wheelchair but walking ten miles a day. – and she lived another 31 years.

Frances Greger – A Deaths Door’s Patient

John Robbins tells an incredible story of how the life of a commercial Pig Farmer was transformed in a most unexpected way.

The Pig Farmer

Additional Reading

There are a number of useful books on the Additional Reading page.

Additional Reading – Updated

The China Study Solution is written by Colin Campbell’s son who is a medical doctor. It is a guide to getting started on changing dietary habits.

The following recipe books, which are also listed on the Additional Reading page, contain simple recipes to give you some ideas.

  • Campbell, L. (2013) The China Study Cookbook. Dallas, Texas: BenBella Books.
  • Greger, M. & Stone, G. (2017) The How Not to Die Cookbook: 100+ Recipes to Help Prevent and Reverse Disease. Flatiron Books.

Much publicity is given to the longevity of the people of Japan and Okinawa (an archipelago that stretches from southern Japan to Taiwan). However, it is vegetarian Californian Seventh-day Adventists that have the longest lifespan and the highest levels of health on the planet.

Vegetarian Californian Adventists have a higher lifer expectancy at the age of 30 years than other white Californians by 9.5 years in men and 6.1 years in women, giving them the highest life expectancy of any formally described population.2

Note that Californians are much healthier than the average American being in the top five states for longevity with an average life expectancy of 5-6 years greater than the Mississippi states.

Check out the Taiwanese Buddhist Study that shows just how little meat it takes to have a big impact on diabetes outcomes.

Everything in moderation is a near unanimous response by health professional, health support organisations and media commentators to solving our health crisis.

A Taiwanese Buddhist study 3 with 4,384 participants compared type 2 diabetes outcomes for lacto-ovo-vegetarians compared with those who consumed meat. The meat-eating group ate only a very small amount of meat.

  • Meat intake for females: 50% consumed less than 10 g/day; 25% consumed less than 2 g/day.
  • Meat intake for males: 50% consumed less than 20 g/day; 25% consumed less than 7 g/day.
  • Fish and meat intake for females: 50% consumed less than 17 g/day; 25% consumed less than 3 g/day.
  • Fish and meat intake for males: 50% consumed less than 37 g/day; 25% consumed less than 11 g/day.
One Big Mac, with 2 meat patties, contains 90 g of meat—so the participants were consuming only a very small amount of meat. Three garden peas weigh a gram.

That tiny amount of meat increased the risk of diabetes 4 times for females and 2 times for males. Not an endorsement for moderation.


The following websites offer great information.

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition Studies
Dr John McDOugall
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine


The following Netflix movies are also informative.

  • The Game Changers – James Cameron (the writer and director of the Titanic movie) was the executive producer of this movie. James Cameron is a committed vegan for health and environmental reasons.
  • What’s The Health is very informative but rather depressing. It takes 90 minutes to get to the really inspiring section at the end of the movie but it is worth the wait.

Last updated on Monday 21 November 2022 at 15:24 by administrators

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  1. Campbell, T. C. & Campbell, T. M. (2016) The China Study: Revised and Expanded Edition. Dallas, Texas: BenBella Books.
  2. Fraser, G. E. & Shavlik, D. J. (2001) Ten Years of Life – Is It a Matter of Choice? Archives of Internal Medicine. 161 (13), 1645–1652.
  3. Chiu, T. H. T. et al. (2014) Taiwanese Vegetarians and Omnivores: Dietary Composition, Prevalence of Diabetes and IFG Marià Alemany (ed.). PLoS ONE. 9 (2), e88547.


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