Low-Fat Vegan vs. Eat to Live

After a recent post, Stan asked how Dr. Fuhrman's diet is different from Dean Ornish's.

The difference is that Dr. Fuhrman's program is based on a mathematical formula that takes into account the nutrient density of food.

It uses foods in proportion to their phytochemical and micronutrient density, meaning vegetables replace grains at the base of the pyramid.

This diet-style enables people to eat more food, obtain a lower glycemic index and more natural anti-oxidant and disease reversal benefits. Dr. Fuhrman also does not restrict fat from avocado, nuts, and seeds as much as Ornish. Dr. Fuhrman says he sees that arbitrary reduction of fat intake to below 10 percent to be less than ideal. Here's a little chart showing some differences.

Low-Fat Vegan DietDr. Fuhrman's Eat to Live
grain or starchy vegetable-basedlow carb vegetable-based
rice, potatoes, bread, pastacolorful veggies, greens, beans, mushrooms, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, squash
less fruit, less nuts, no animal products, some processed foods more fruit, more nuts, no or very little animal products, no processed foods
less fiber, less nutrients, more sodium, less omega-3 fatshigh fiber, nutrients levels, less sodium, more omega-3 fats

Dr. Fuhrman's Food Pyramid
Want to print out Dr. Fuhrman's food pyramid to stick on your fridge? Click here to download a PDF.

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Comments (19) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Elijah Lynn - February 7, 2006 4:39 PM

Very cool! A bunch of members were wanting one of these.

Thanks - Elijah

Elijah Lynn - February 7, 2006 4:42 PM

Can you also make one for people that are not trying to lose weight?

Also I highly recommend you plaster DrFuhrman.com or DiseaseProof.com on it so people know where it came from. 1 year from now people will look at it and not know who's recommendations those are.

Leanne Veitch - February 7, 2006 7:03 PM

I follow a combination of the two diet styles, and have found it to be very satisfactory.

Basically, my diet is low carb vegan, but I do not restrict natural fats (nuts, avocadoes etc.), although I restrict refined oils such as olive oil, cooking oils, margarines etc., and do my best to avoid processed foods as much as possible.

The result has been a weight loss of about 20 kilograms (over 40 pounds) in just under 6 months, and I look and feel fantastic.

Kudos to both Ornish and Fuhrman - I owe these men the great health and fitness I now hope to enjoy for the rest of my life!

Jane - February 9, 2006 12:31 PM

It seems to me it is only possible to eat a diet which gets 70% of its calories from vegetables (per the pyramid) by eating large amounts of the starchy vegetables. Am I missing something?

Susan - April 4, 2006 10:44 AM

Has Dr. Fuhrman considered putting out any children's literature?

I wish some of Dr. Fuhrman's pictures like this were made into a coloring book for kids that I could give out to my friends who have kids.

Scottosphere - April 10, 2006 10:08 PM

Seeing the pyramid just brings back feelings of frustration with the USDA, but I really appreciate the chart spelling out the differences between a Low-Fat Vegan Diet and the Eat-To-Live Diet. I stopped meat, eggs, and dairy cold-turkey (no pun intended) a year ago, but processed grains have been the scourge of my diet ever since. This chart is being taped in my kitchen forthwith.

anet - April 21, 2006 9:01 PM

hey, this today on NPR...
unhealthy diet not only bad for us, bad for environment...

John Allen - May 27, 2006 3:13 PM

The beauty of what Dr Fuhrman promotes with this pyramid, is that regardless of whether you need to lose weight or not, whether you are weight training or not, looking to reverse disease or not, just wanting to get healthier and enjoy food etc... These recommendations are basically the same!

Depending on your situation, and goals, you would make modifications from this point of reference.

If you're an athlete you may end up eating more fruits, beans, raw nuts and seeds... relative to your caloric needs, but the key to living at or near your ideal weight is eating the most Nutrient Rich foods first, and everything else in descending order, in terms of their % in your diet, to promote health.

It all comes down to the question, what do you want the "base" of your diet to be? Green's or grains? Plant or animal?

The answers to these questions are incredibly influential when it comes the results you'll get.

maggie - June 23, 2006 8:21 PM

Has anyone experience reversal of gum disease on ETL?

sammie - July 8, 2006 8:02 PM

I was wandering if splenda is allowed.

Eric M. - August 13, 2006 1:44 PM

I'm 6'2" and was about 225lbs. My ideal weight is about 190lbs. Right now down to about 200lbs. Simple diet. I cut out all processed foods for the most part. I didn't get too scientific about it. I ate a lot of fruits, veggies, salads, lean meat, etc... If I was hungry, I ate. I like to grill and veggies are great from the grill. Grilled eggplant is my favorite. I would grill eggplant and keep some in the fridge for several days. A great snack. Grilled corn on the cob is the BOMB! I now have no desire to eat chips, fried/breaded food. This is the first "diet" that I know for sure will last a lifetime. I suppose if I get stuck at 200lbs I may have to put a little more thought on exactly what I eat but until then, i'll just keep eating the "good stuff".

Oh, and I love the 2-3x per week visit to my local little produce market and stocking up on whatever is in season. I can buy a sh!*load (that's a technical term) of fruit for less than $20.

One of the biggest benefits of eating this way is that I rarely get that "i'm-so-disgustinly-full" feeling. I sleep much better too.

I guess the only thing I need to work on now is that I need to "drink better". I love coffee (just coffee...none of that frappacino stuff), probably drink too much diet coke (2 per day maybe) and enjoy an alcoholic beverage every day or every other day..... just a light beer, glass of wine or a home-made mojito (yum!!).

kat - October 12, 2006 7:15 AM

i am fat boo hoo

mike ciaccio - November 7, 2006 2:59 PM

Any menu plan or diet pyramid that permits the eating of meat, fish, chicken, pork or dairy in any form is hopelessly flawed. Period!

MS. Miller - December 7, 2006 10:56 AM

I would like to see a picture of a low carb vegan diet food pyramid that would be suitable for diabetics.

Chris MacAskill - February 10, 2007 1:13 AM

RE: Reversal of gum disease...

I'm 53 and take pretty good care of my teeth, I think, but have experienced more rapid recession of my gums and development of pockets than it seems I should. Certainly my wife doesn't floss every day like I do or brush as thoroughly, yet she's the one with perfect gums.

Anyway, my dental hygienist has asked me on my last two visits what I'm doing differently because she says my progress is dramatic. Pockets that were 4mm are now 2mm and the gums have less of a rolled look, whatever that means.

I told her I'd gone vegan and she responded that for some reason she sees better gum health in general from vegans but doesn't know why. She thought their health conscious ways probably just translated into better care of their teeth.

Naresh Sevani - June 20, 2007 7:11 PM

Very interesting website.

Is there any information on this website on diets for people suffering from inflammatory bowel diseases?

I suffer from ulcerative colitis. Before getting it, i had an extremely poor diet (was a vegetarian with a poor diet) extremely high in carbs and processed foods and very little plant food.

Now i am unable to digest high fibre foods or plant foods at all and juice vegetables instead.

A lot of the lower parts of that pyramid is out of bounds for me.

I have recently changed my diet for the first time after reading a book called Life After Bread by Allan and Lutz which promotes a low-carb, high fat/protein diet. Out of desparation i tried it due to current poor health. I introduced some fish to start with to increase protein, so i am no longer vegetarian. Within a few weeks i have found i pass my bowels less frequently and have much more energy and better memory & concentration levels. But i do worry about the long term effects of this diet even though this book does state, with references, that this will improve long term health.

Anyone had experience of this book or this diet? Or perhaps some advice for someone with many diet restrictions including raw plant foods?

Dianne - July 27, 2007 1:33 PM

Can anyone provide a foodplan that gives portions for breakfast lunch dinner for Dr. Fuhrman's plan. Am struggling with what to eat..I am vegan...

factor - November 10, 2007 10:44 PM

The table is BS. How do you define "low fat vegan diet" and compare it with ETL? Its all a continuum.

He is trying to draw an artifical distinction bewteen ETL and the McDougall plan.

Q kirsch - May 3, 2010 4:19 PM

I have been vegan for about 7 months and been to the dentist twice since then . I had serious gum disease and had two costly painful surgeries so far and was supposed to have 3 more . I was told it was irreversible . First time I went 2 or months after becoming Vegan my dentist raved . 2nd time he really Raved . Both times asked what I was doing differently . When I told him I went Vegan he said something like "oh good for you , whatever , keep it up " & left the room abruptly . You'd think a Dentist would find this really interesting wouldn't you ?
Just finished " The China Study " ( amazing book ) & found a similar but much more extreme story about an arthritis miricle on page 338 . It's spooky . They just don't want to know . Bad for biz I guess . Plus they'd have to examine their own enjoyable bad habits .

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