Get Rich with a Whole Food Plant Based Diet

To me, Whole Food Plant Based dieting (or WFPB) is a pretty chilled out food concept. There is nothing hard and fast, but as a general philosophy you try and maximise your consumption of Whole Foods, which are generally unprocessed or unrefined foods, and also Plant based foods (which pretty obviously come from plants – like fruits and vegetables).

Captainfi Whole Food Plant Based

By adopting a flexible whole food plant based diet, I have had significant improvements to my life and I have grown wealthier in many aspects

  • Health: I have reduced my blood pressure and risk of disease
  • Financial: My grocery bill is one sixth of what it was (accelerating FI!)
  • Enjoyment: I enjoy food more, and don’t have to limit myself as much
  • Relationships: I have made new friendships and strengthened others

In this article I will give you a run-down on what got me into flexible whole food plant based dieting, some of the basics of it, how much money it has saved me and finally some suggestions for further reading based on my favourite diet and health books which I give out to friends and family.

Starting WFPB on the road to FI

I got involved with flexible whole food plant based dieting through a close friend actually. They had recently converted to being a vegetarian and every time I came over, they would make me some pretty amazing vegetarian food. I had worked with them a lot through college, and really respected them and valued our friendship. I thought I at least owed it to myself to do some research and look into it a little further, especially given my own health concerns and the fact that both of my parents had battles with cancer, and I had a staunchly vegan sister.

I also had a pretty stressful job at the time as a Pilot, which I could probably describe as 80% boredom, 19% madly hurrying and 1% terror (think: teaching a student to land their aeroplane for the first time, as you hurtle toward the ground at a hundred knots). Pilots have to maintain strict medicals and one of the things which kept happening during my yearly medicals was nurses making sly comments about my blood pressure under their breath as they scribbled down the number from the machine. We all know the stereotype about blood pressure and old men, but seriously I was in my early twenties and thought I was super fit and healthy, yet I had high blood pressure and work was threatening to make me wear monitors and potentially start taking statins!

I was going to the gym for an hour a day and following a pretty rigorous strength weight training and cardiovascular regime (which I still do of course). I would sometimes take my pre-workout hit of whatever that concoction was and the caffeine would get me going but I’m sure it wasn’t great for my heart or blood pressure. Afterwards I would chug down a big mixer of casein or whey protein shake. I made sure my diet covered all of my Macros (If It Fits Your Macros, Bro!) and ate about a kilo of chicken breast between five meals a day with broccoli and rice, and chowed down copious amounts of beef jerky and biltong between meals.

Captainfi Whole Food Plant Based
Hot tip – don’t waste your money on Preworkout powder – just have an espresso shot!

Investing in education

My first easy step to learning more about vegetarian and vegans was I watched some Netflix documentaries. Some of these were quite frankly horrible to watch and some of the things that I learned that take place in the animal industry are downright appalling.

Now I’ve come from a rural area and my family and friends have farms and animals, some of which are raised exclusively for their meat. I’ve killed and plucked my fair share of chickens as well as caught, prepared and eaten a bunch of animals, especially some weird ones during survival training. One thing I have always made sure to do is to respect the animal, which means treating it kindly and when the time comes, to give it a quick and painless death.

But some of our methods of mass animal agriculture, factory farming and processing are pretty far from respecting the animal, and are downright cruel. So whilst ethical considerations were not really my prime reason for investigating Whole Food Plant Based dieting, I ended up wanting to be a more ethical or conscious consumer of animal products.

Watching documentaries like ‘In defense of Food’ and ‘Forks over knifes’ as well as ‘What the Health’ began to open my eyes to some of the serious health implications of my current animal product and processed food rich diet. I was eating nearly four times the Recommended Daily Intake of animal protein to try and reach my gym goals, and paying a premium to do so (both in terms of money and my health).

I started reading academic journal articles such as ‘The China Study’ by Dr Colin Campbell, as well as research from leading researchers, scientists and doctors. Some of the most influential people in this field are listed below;

  • Ann Crile Esseltyn
  • Caldwell Esselstyn
  • Brian Wendel
  • Kim A Williams
  • John A. McDougall
  • Michael Klaper
  • Ellsworth Wareham

By the end of my three month journey into health and diet reading I was convinced; The vegans have the right idea, the research is there, and the data backs it up. Vegan can be a bit of a dirty word in our society because there are a lot of stupid vegans who are unnecessarily militant and cause a lot of conflict. There are still many aspects of a vegan diet which were plain and simply unhealthy – like masses of deep fried tofu or sugar and oil rich processed treats. A flexible whole food plant based diet was the key to overcoming this and achieving the best of both worlds, whilst still being able to not feel so bad about the occasional lapse here or there.

Flexible WFPB dieting is the key

Flexible Whole Food Plant Based dieting became the ideal solution for me. This is a really simple, basic style of preparing and eating food which focuses on foods such as;

  • Fruit and dried fruits like Apples, Bananas, Figs, Grapes, Berries
  • Vegetables like Capsicums, Peas, Corn, Kale, Spinach, Cucumber
  • Legumes like Beans, Lentils, Pulses and Chickpeas
  • Tubers like Potatoes, Sweet potatoes, Yams, Beetroots, Carrots
  • Grains and whole flours like Oats, Wheat, Rice, Polenta, Quinoa
  • Nuts and seeds like Almonds, Walnuts, Chia seeds, Pumpkin seeds
Captainfi Whole Food Plant Based
Fruits and vegetables are great and contains much needed fibre

Whole Food Plant Based (WFBP) dieting generally tries to avoid animal products and manufactured foods such as;

  • Animal meat
  • Animal milks and milk products such as cheese and butter
  • Eggs
  • Chips, candy and other highly processed ‘Vegan junk food’
  • Things that come in plastic packets

Flexible WFPB dieting meant that when I was shopping or at home I generally only ate from the first list, which was super easy to do. Finding healthy WFPB or vegan meals on the go was a bit trickier- such as when you’re at a friends house or at a restaurant. I don’t let this stress me out and try to be flexible with what I eat. A few simple things like eating before going out, and having a range of WFPB snacks like almonds or dried fruits within easy access is a great way to avoid too much junky or unhealthy food on the go.

Captainfi Whole Food Plant Based
Roasted almonds are a great Whole Food Plant Based Snack that you can take on the go

Running the numbers

Prior to my change of diet, my weekly grocery bill at a big brand chain supermarket or grocery store for just myself looked something like;

  • Groceries: $300
  • Pre-workout powder: 6 serves = $6
  • Post-workout powder: 6 serves = $12
  • Eating out / snacks: $100
  • Total: $418

I used to buy loads of expensive cuts of meat such as steaks, salmon fillets and prawns, two dozen eggs, 5 kilos of skinless chicken breast, milk, yoghurt, soft and hard cheeses, butter, ice cream, crackers, some fruit, about 5 kilos of broccoli and a big bag of rice.

After the change, I cut out most animal products and just find myself focused on the perimeter of the grocery store shop, or shopping entirely at greengrocers or fruit and vegetable stores. I’ve also reined in my recreational food spending because rather than ordering that big $40 steak, I’m opting for the more reasonable paella or salads.

  • Groceries: $40
  • Pre-workout – Espresso (from home machine) 6 serves = $1.20
  • Post-workout pea protein powder: 6 serves = $18
  • Eating out / snacks: $50
  • Total: $109.2

Things that I buy now are lots of fresh vegetables like Sweet potatoes, Tomatoes, Potatoes, Carrots, Onions, Spinach, Lettuce, Lentils, Peas, Beans, Pulses, Capsicums, Almonds, Walnuts, Chia seeds, Pumpkin seeds, Coconuts, a huge range of Fruits, Rice, Pasta and Hummus. Whilst it may not 100% conform to a strict diet, flexibility is the key to me and I still enjoy a little bit of nut milks like coconut and almond milk.

Update: Since starting growing the #frugalgarden I am spending less and less on buying food because the garden that thrives on neglect keeps providing me awesome fresh produce!

In total I save over $300 a week on just my eating habits. This is money I am investing into the stock market! I am putting it straight into my investments to get rich slowly through Index funds such as LIC and ETFs. $308.8 weekly comes to over $16,000 per year. If you can save and then invest this into a low cost ETF stock index fund achieving the average growth of 9%, this translates to an extraordinary amount of wealth over time; almost $260,000 over ten years and a staggering $6.2M over an average workers 40 year career.

Captainfi Whole Food Plant Based
$308.8 weekly, invested over 10 years

Recommended reading

Don’t take my word for it though – get out there and do your own research. Hopefully I have given you the small spark required to ignite your fire, which can help you to reach financial independence.

The China study

The China study is a book written by Dr Colin Campbell, which was first published in 2005 in the United States. It is one of the best selling American books about nutrition, selling well over a million copies. Reading this book was actually a bit of a life changer for me.

Over 30 years ago Dr Campbell started a massive health study based on research he had discovered in his laboratory. Teams from the United States of America, England and China worked together on what has been called the most comprehensive study ever undertaken examining the links between diet and risks of disease.

They looked at the typical Western diet high in animal proteins and fats, as well as processed / manufactured foods, and compared this to the typical eastern diet which is highly plant based (but does have some animal proteins) and mostly whole-food (that is, not highly processed).

By travelling through China they were able to gather detailed health and diet records. All of the data has been published online and is publicly available if you want to check it out. By analysing the data they were able to see some pretty stark links between diet and health. By geolocating and comparing the data gathered in the study, he was able to link disease to economic and diet factors.

Dr Campbell then goes in to classify the diseases he analysed into diseases of affluence such as heart disease, asthma, diabetes and many cancers, and diseases of poverty such as malnutrition, infectious diseases, malaria and tuberculosis.

Finally, Dr Campbell offers his readers some advice on how to stay healthy and prevent disease with some very simple and basic diet tips. Spoiler alert – it’s not to continue eating the typical western diet!

Where to get it

If you want a copy of the book check it out online or follow the link here to Amazon which is probably the cheapest way to get it.

Captainfi the China study
The China study is a book based on Dr Campbell’s academic paper

In defense of food:

“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”

Michael Pollan

In defense of food – an eater’s manifesto is written by accomplished food author and lecturer Michael Pollan. The book was expanded into a Netflix Documentary, which was where I actually first saw it. I believe it has since been turned into a TV ‘docu-series’ or miniseries with PBS and I noticed that his Netflix documentary has been pulled down. If you want to watch the original hour long documentary you can still access it online for free with SBS on Demand here but you will need to sign in or create a free account.

Michael Pollan’s documentary was great and I have since bought the book to add to my small collection, which is just as good of a read. I really like how he reinforces the importance of simplifying food through the use of his seven simple guidelines to healthy eating;

  • Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognise as food
  • Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce
  • Stay out of the middle aisle in supermarkets; shop the perimeter section
  • Don’t eat anything that won’t eventually decay
  • Stop eating before you are 100% full
  • Enjoy meals with the people you love, around a table
  • Don’t buy food where you buy your fuel, and don’t eat in the car

To me, Pollan is really just reminding us to simplify our eating habits, and helping to bust a bunch of silly food myths.

Where to get it

If you want a copy of the book check it out online or follow the link here to Amazon which is probably the cheapest way to get it.

Captainfi in defense of food
In Defense of food is written by Michael Pollan and based on his extensive research and work as a food writer

Sweet Poison

Sweet poison is a pretty darn good book, and it’s easy and quick to read. It’s centred around the health dangers of High Fructose Corn Syrup and its extensive use in the manufactured food industry.

The author David Gillespie is actually a lawyer who found himself with some pretty troubling health issues being obese (over 40kg over a healthy adult male weight). It’s written from the viewpoint of self discovery as Gillespie explores his own diet and health issues and learns about what is making him sick and how he can fix it.

He does this by explaining his own learning process and journey to the reader, which makes sense as Gillespie has no formal health or medical training, but he is clearly a very intelligent person. He references numerous academic papers and specialists (but at times could probably do with being a bit tidier and add more referencing) but it certainly makes sense and he backs up his arguments well.

He then offers readers some extensive guidelines about food and how to be savvy about avoiding hidden junk in our food when we are shopping. I read this book because it was given to me by a family member, and I have since bought a few paperback copies of it as gifts to give out to my close friends.

Where to get it

If you want a copy of the book check it out online or follow the link here to Amazon which is probably the cheapest way to get it.

captainfi sweet poison
Sweet poison by Australian Lawyer David Gillespie

Toxic Oil

Toxic oil is another book written by David Gillespie on his journey of health discovery and is similar to Sweet Poison. Toxic Oil is centred around the widespread use of Seed and Vegetable oils by the food manufacturing and fast food industries. He looks at some pretty alarming research on oil consumption and its health impact, and some of the problems of inaction by worldwide health regulatory bodies.

Gillespie provides the reader with some useful information on avoiding some of the dangerous oils in our diet such as trans-fats. He gives a detailed analysis of many products and assists readers in food shopping with some easy to follow guidelines.

Whilst I think it is still a valuable read and it sits on my bookshelf, I am still not entirely convinced of all of his ideas. For example, the idea to replace all vegetable oil with animal fats in your diet. Personally I chose to moderate my consumption of all ‘condensed’ oils; for example rather than eat avocado oil I would prefer to just eat a whole avocado (maybe smashed on toast!) I still use a good splash of olive oil in the pan when I am frying something though.

I’ve loaned out my copy of Toxic Oil to close friends and bought two copies to give as gifts because I still think it has a lot of really valuable information in it.

Where to get it

If you want a copy of the book check it out online or follow the link here to Amazon which is probably the cheapest way to get it.

captainfi toxic oil
Toxic Oil written by Australian Lawyer David Gillespie


So in a nutshell, flexible whole food plant based dieting has really improved my health and saved me a heap of money. Money which I am putting into my investments towards reaching financial independence quicker, which will let me retire eventually!

One of the massive bonuses about flexible whole food plant based dieting is its triple whammy benefit on financial independence. Not only does it save you money on your shopping which you can then invest, it also substantially lowers your cost of living bringing down your Get FIRE’d number, bringing financial independence much closer. Thirdly it prevents disease and promotes a healthy lifestyle, meaning you feel better and are more productive, and also avoid a lot of expenses associated with disease and health issues like expensive doctor visits, surgeries and medications.

I hope this has been useful to you and that you’ve been able to get something out of it, even if it is just putting exploring this concept on your ‘to do list’.


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5 thoughts on “Get Rich with a Whole Food Plant Based Diet

  1. Wondering if you might ever consider posting a couple of your favourite (frugal) recipes? I might have an uphill battle with a fussy teen and tween, but it’s worth a shot as generally, we have too high a reliance on animal proteins.

    1. Hi Rob! Great Idea mate, I will make sure to include some of my favourites in upcoming posts. I am a bit of a mad scientist when it comes to cooking, and throw a little bit of this and a little bit of that in. Its probably the asian influence I’ve had on me during my upbringing spending time living with family in places like Indonesia and Malaysia, or maybe because I was never good at following rules / recipes haha! Cheers

  2. I really enjoyed this post. I’m 40y planning in FIREing at 45y. Like you, I am active and thought I was generally in good health. While I haven’t had a major incident requiring medical attention my cholesterol, weight and other markers were trending in the wrong direction. Two years ago I discovered and began a WFPB nutritional lifestyle. I’ve read all the books you’ve listed and more, the documentaries (also check out “The Game Changers”, I saw the original cut but a shorter version is currently on Netflix I believe… about athletic recovery and diet), and follow most of the Dr’s you’ve listed and more.

    Outside of my family, getting my/our health in order and reaching FI are two of my proudest accomplishments.
    I can’t remember which Plant Based doc said it (maybe Campbell) but “Live long and Die fast”.

    Great Blog and Awesome topic! Thanks

    1. Hey Ryan, that’s awesome! I really got a lot out of the game changers too. I think Michael Polan has released a whole series on ‘in defence of food’ if your looking for some more interesting and educating viewing! I think the plant based movement and FI are such complimentary movements, focused on common sense and mindfulness

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