4 Stages of Transitioning to a Whole Foods Vegan Diet

There are certainly a lot of different approaches to transitioning to a healthier way of eating, and a complete vegetarian diet (vegan) doesn’t necessarily have to be the end result.

Here’s my version of the stages of transitioning. This is similar to what is found in Dr. Atwood’s Low-fat Prescription For Kids, by Charles Atwood. How long you spend in each stage is really up to you. 3-6 weeks is recommended, but do what works for you depending on where you are currently.

Stage 1

*Limit meat, including poultry & fish, to 3 ounces per day

*Low-fat dairy products (1 % milk, low-fat yogurt & cheese)

*No foods fried in oil

*One dessert & 1 snack daily

*Unlimited unrefined vegetables, fruits, grains, & legumes (in that order).


Stage 2

*Limit trimmed meat, including skinless poultry & fish to 3 ounces, no more than 3 times a week

*Skim milk & non-fat dairy products, including only egg whites

*Omit MSG (monosodium glutamate, found in many, many food products), hydrogentated oils and trans fats, and refined sugars (corn syrup, white/brown sugar, fructose, ect.), from diet

*No foods fried in oil

*One low-fat dessert and 1 low-fat snack daily

*Unlimited unrefined vegetables, fruits, grains, & legumes (in that order).


Stage 3

*Limit all meat products to no more than 3 ounces, once a week

*Non-fat dairy products, egg whites

*No MSG, refined sugars

*No refined flours. Replace refined flours and rice with whole grains such as whole wheat, brown rice, millet, quinoa grains and flours.

*No added oils of any kind (added in dressings/sauces, sauteing, baked goods, ect.)

*One no-fat dessert and snack

Stage 4

*Don’t eat anything that had a mother or a face (includes all meat, poultry, fish)

*No animal products, including milk, cheese, eggs/egg whites

*No oils, including the so-called “heart healthy” olive and canola oils

*No more than a handful of nuts a day (about 1/4 c. or less). If you need to lose weight, leave out the nuts and seeds completely (but still take 1 TBS. ground flaxseed).

*Moderate high-fat plant foods such as olives, coconuts and avacados to small amounts, once or twice a week.

*No-fat dessert and 1 snack a day.

*Unlimited amounts of vegetables, fruits, grains, and legumes.


For weight loss:

Don’t worry about portion sizes or counting calories, just eat at stage 4 AND

Limit flour products (pasta, breads, ect.) to one serving per day.

No more than 2 tsp. added sugar (including dates, agave nectar, evaporated cane juice) daily. Sugar is sugar, even when it’s so-called “good” sugar as found in brown rice syrup or agave nectar. It’s much better than white sugar, but still not nutritionally significant and adds unnecessary calories to your diet, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.

Also, avoid eating less than 2 or 3 hours before you go to bed.  Try to go to bed slightly hungry.


Suggested supplements:

*For stages 3 & 4, a vitamin-B12 (5 mcg daily)

*1 TBS. ground flax or 1 tsp. cold-pressed flaxseed oil daily



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  2. wasatchveg
    on March 20, 2009 at 1:26 pm said:

    We are really enjoying the blog. I can only imagine the amount of “health advice” that a vegan mother must get from the general public. We think its great that you are taking such a bold stance! Thanks for the support and keep blogging, strength in numbers. 🙂

  3. Vegan Mothering
    on March 20, 2009 at 12:32 pm said:

    Way to go Abbie! Isn’t it so fun to make meals that you know are so good for your body, environment, cruelty-free (no animal had to be slaughtered so you could have a dinner) AND taste so yummy?! One of the misconceptions about vegan food is that it is limited in taste. Far from the truth. The SAD (standard American diet) is based on basically a few flavors and tastes, which include mostly fat, sugar, salt, and animal flesh. When you take those things out, you make more room for the rich variety that is in the plant kingdom. There are over hundreds of varieties of edible green plants for example. It’s more than just iceberg lettuce, that’s for sure. Anyway, keep experminting, and you’ll find some recipes that you really love to make and eat!

  4. Abbie
    on March 19, 2009 at 11:59 pm said:

    I made a total vegan meal tonight (made even with tofu) from Dr. McDougall’s cookbook and even my husband loved it! Crazy!