Can I Do the Whole30 Program as a Vegetarian or Vegan?

a bowl of whole foods part of the whole30 diet

Are you considering doing the Whole30 program as a vegetarian or vegan? If so, then you’re in the right place. In this episode of our podcast, we discuss the program and whether or not it’s possible to be a Whole30 vegetarian or vegan.

You can listen to us discuss it here or read on for a quick summary.

Disclaimer: Information on this site and on our podcast is presented for educational purposes only. Always speak to your doctor before beginning any new diets or supplements. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

What is the Whole30 Program?

The Whole30 program was created by Melissa Hartwig in 2009 as a “dietary experiment” to help transform her healthy habits and relationship with food.


What Are The Rules of the Program?

Before we discuss whether it’s possible to be a Whole30 vegetarian, let’s discuss the rules of the program.

The rules are available on their site but here’s a quick rundown:

  • Do not consume added sugar, real or artificial. No maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, date syrup, stevia, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, etc. Read your labels, because companies sneak sugar into products in ways you might not recognize.


  • Do not consume alcohol, in any form, not even for cooking. (And ideally, no tobacco products of any sort, either.)


  • Do not eat grains. This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, rice, millet, bulgur, sorghum, sprouted grains, and all gluten-free pseudo-cereals like quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat. This also includes all the ways we add wheat, corn, and rice into our foods in the form of bran, germ, starch, and so on. Again, read your labels.


  • Do not eat legumes. This includes beans of all kinds (black, red, pinto, navy, white, kidney, lima, fava, etc.), peas, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts. No peanut butter, either. This also includes all forms of soy – soy sauce, miso, tofu, tempeh, edamame, and all the ways we sneak soy into foods (like lecithin).


  • Do not eat dairy. This includes cow, goat, or sheep’s milk products like milk, cream, cheese, kefir, yogurt, sour cream, ice cream, or frozen yogurt.


  • Do not consume carrageenan, MSG, or sulfites. If these ingredients appear in any form on the label of your processed food or beverage, it’s out for the Whole30.


  • Do not consume baked goods, junk foods, or treats with “approved” ingredients. Recreating or buying sweets, treats, and foods with no brakes (even if the ingredients are technically compliant) is totally missing the point of the Whole30, and will compromise your life-changing results. These are the same foods that got you into health trouble in the first place—and a pancake is still a pancake, even if it’s made with coconut flour.


  • Do Not Step on the scale for 30 days. They want you to focus on your health and not so much on your weight.


Do eat:

  • Meat
  • Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Veggies
  • Some Fruit
  • Natural Fats
  • Herbs
  • Spices
  • Seasonings
  • Foods with very few ingredients


Some Benefits of The Whole30 Program

Putting the consumption of animal products to the side, the Whole30 diet doesn’t look too shabby. I can appreciate the idea of focusing on eating healthy whole foods and avoiding sugar, processed foods, and artificial ingredients.

I can also appreciate avoiding the scale and simply paying attention to your health. After all, weight doesn’t give the complete picture of how healthy a person is.

So these are definitely some benefits. Let’s talk about some of the not-so-great aspects of this program.


Cons of The Whole30 Program

Several online reviews mention some general negatives of the program such as restrictiveness and the preparation required to stick with it.

Putting those aside, as a vegetarian, the biggest obstacles I can see are having to eliminate legumes and grains which are pretty much staples for most vegetarians and vegans.

Additionally, not being able to consume soy products such as tofu is definitely a con as a vegetarian.


So, Can I Be a Whole30 Vegetarian?

The Whole30 website has a section called, ” Whole30 101: Can I do the Whole30 As a Vegetarian or Vegan? “

In their own words, they answer the question of whether you can be a Whole30 vegetarian by saying, “technically, no.” The reason is that their program calls for consuming a moderate amount of animal protein every day which, if you are a strict vegetarian or vegan, won’t work for you.

The elimination of grains and legumes from the diet also makes it that much harder to follow it in its strictest form.

While the answer to the question of, “Can I Be a Whole30 Vegetarian” is, “technically, no”, you can certainly take some of the components of the program that work for you and incorporate them into your own plan. The most important thing is that you are honoring your own body and values in a way that makes sense for you.


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Here’s what we mention in this episode:


Whole30 Program Resources


Recipe of the Week


Thanks for listening!

Peace and Veggies,
Vickie and Larissa

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