Welcome! Congrats for finding this great way of eating!
Which is the best book to buy? The MWLP book seems to be written in the 90s. Are the current editions updated? Do these provide any sample menus or meal plans as an example? In your opinion, is this book a must read?
IMO the MWL Must Haves are:
MWL book ( http://www.drmcdougall.com/store_mwl.html
)The China Study
Jeff's Fast Food DVD ( http://www.drmcdougall.com/store_fast_food.html
The MWL book is still very up to date--the only thing that might not be is the commercial/packaged food list, and you want to avoid that stuff as much as possible anyway. MANY sample meal plans are included, as well as many recipes. Other than SNAP/Fast Food meals, everything I make comes from that book.
The Fast Food DVD will give you a great method for making and inventing super easy, super fast, super yummy meals that take 10-15 min. It's invaluable.
And The China Study
will convince you that you're on the right path.
Is high protein food like tofu or TVP forbidden? So is grilled tofu or tofu added to stir fries or vegetables etc. not an option?
Not permitted on MWL. Tofu prepared w/out oil is OK on the regular plan, but it's a more calorie dense food so be careful w/ it. TVP is highly processed.
If you eat tofu, should you not eat beans that day?
Probably not, since tofu is made from beans.
Is there any upper limit to soy milk used as whitener, or for mashed potatoes, creamed soups or sauces etc.
I'm sure that's mentioned in the book, but I don't recall. Be careful w/ it, esp. full fat soy milk. It is calorie dense and processed. I use it only in my herb tea, and use less than 1/4 cup a day total.
Quantity of starch
How much starch is adequate and how much is too much? How do we calculate the maximum amount of rice/potatoes/corn etc. that can be eaten at any meal or during the day?
You don't. Technically on MWL you should eat more greens and less starch than on the regular plan, but I have NEVER followed this aspect of it and I lost almost 90 pounds effortlessly and am keeping it off effortlessly. I eat an ABSURD amount of potatoes, LOL. Folks at the grocery store joke about all the taters in my cart. Starch is what makes you feel happy and full--eat LOTS of it. The only reason to limit it would be if you are NOT losing weight. But I doubt that will be the case.
Will this change per activity level? My current activity level is pretty sedentary and it will take time to work up to recommended exercise levels.
As Dr. McD says, "It's about the FOOD!" Exercise a little if you can, but don't worry too much about it. As you lose weight and regain health you will feel better and will WANT to do more. If you do, do it!
Total calorie intake
What should be the minimum or maximum calorie intake? What percent of the calories should be pure starch (the kind outlined by Dr. McD)
You really need to read the MWL book.
This plan is NOT about calories. Fergittabout them. If you are staying on plan you should eat until you are comfortably full, then stop. Then do it again later.
If I start with a mini version initially, will it be ok to eat oatmeal/fruit for breakfast and then potatoes/ chosen starch for lunch/dinner repeating the same thing every day? I somehow cannot imagine eating potatoes for breakfast. I might be able to eat corn.
Seriously?? Taters are awesome for brekky! Get a ceramic "green" non-stick pan and make hashbrowns. Very yummy w/ salsa.
I haven't ever bothered w/ Mary's mini so someone else will have to answer your question about oatmeal. But to me, the MWL plan as it stands is great. IMO you should not START w/ Mary's Mini. The MWL plan itself is different enough and restrictive enough--don't set yourself up for failure by making it more so.
Does a typical Indian meal fit into the MWLP..e.g Roti/Chapati and dal/vegetables or Rice/Dal/vegetables? (oil free of course)
Well, bread isn't permitted on the MWL plan so rotis are out. If you cook the Indian food yourself so you're SURE there is no oil, Indian is great! There are a number of Indian-inspired recipes in the MWL book. Going OUT for Indian, however, is another matter entirely.
Hope that helps!