While it is true that the punishing nature of Very Hard mode combined with the game's lack of checkpoints means that the safest way to play this difficulty with minimum frustration would be long-distance pod spam and overleveling, it doesn't mean that that is the only way to play or that other ways of playing are unviable or not fun.
Here is a YouTube uploader by the name of QQDangoQQ doing Very Hard mode on NieR: Automata with a set list of restrictions. They are:
No plug-in chips aside from the game's default HUD-related chips.
Partner must always be set to passive
No pod programs or pod gun allowed
Here is the link to his channel. As you can see, he still manages to beat these bosses on Very Hard despite being underleveled against all of them and having all of these restrictions on himself. He also can still beat them with a very quick time, like an average of around 2 minutes on the bosses.
He hasn't done all the bosses (he's almost finished with Route A), but he has inspired me to take up a similar challenge route when I do Very Hard mode myself. It turns out you don't have to stack overpowered plug-in chips and abuse pod programs to conquer Very Hard mode in an enjoyable manner.
Hope he inspires the same in you.
Needless to say, because his channel shows him fighting bosses, you should not click on it unless you don't care about being spoiled.