Publications summarise 2019 as “year of the vegan”. Supermarkets, restaurants and fast-food chains like McDonald’ now welcome non-animal produce. Fantastic if you’re a vegan sick of choosing between a salad and plain pasta; terrible if you’re hoping veganism is your health cure. Plant based eating and vegan food usually group together when definition widely differ.
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional and this piece shouldn’t be taken as advice to follow. It’s based on personal experience.
Plant based Vs Vegan
Veganism is an ethical lifestyle choice predominantly chosen to protect the welfare of animals. Following a vegan diet doesn’t mean tofu is a kitchen staple, quinoa is for dinner and breakfast avocados on toast. Not every vegan’s focus is “clean eating”. This explains why plenty of establishments are now housing assortments of vegan chocolate, meat substitutes, pizza and ice-cream. A plant-based diet meanwhile, focuses on consuming foods derived from plants.
This difference is something I’ve struggled with since cutting out animal products at the end of 2017. While the documentary Cowspiracy broke my heart witnessing animals in pain, I additionally intended to follow a vegan diet for a health cure. To grant myself new energy, less bloat and hopefully glowing skin. My blog documented sections of my first year and showcases significant improvement. Like a duck to water I swam, cooking a variety of delicious and healthy vegan food without issue.
Aggravation erupted upon leaving my house. Popcorn at my local theatre consists of chocolate and milk-based toffee; local restaurants provide the bare minimum. Snacks at a zoo, theme park or anywhere ideal to spend the day with my little sisters are non-existent. I’ve grown accustom to chomping on large fries and convincing myself a packet of raisins is filling.
Hidden ingredients processed vegan food
To see vegan food available at ‘normal’ places – meaning I can shop at popular food shops and dine with my friends hassle free, became an unbelievable blessing. Almost nothing has been off the menu. Companies are getting on board and creating new formulas for those not wishing to spend Sunday lunch carving a chicken. While it’s nice to have options, how concerning are the ingredients in vegan junk?
Like animal-based junk food, there’s little to no health cure in vegan processed offerings. Livestrong.com suggest fake meats usually contain “artificial ingredients” and “processed oils”, and items such as coconut yoghurt are high in saturated fat. Wakethewolves.com list sample hidden ingredients found in most animal alternatives. A typical vegan burger for example, can contain “natural and artificial flavors, salt, yeast extract, sugar, caramel color”.
Scroll Instagram and you’re probable to thinking vegans survive on fruit oatmeal, tofu and avocado bowls along with pasta with the occasional sweet potato. My Instagram publicises vegan pancakes, French toast and fruit etc, purely for aesthetics. In reality, I daily eat soups, stews, potato vegetable bakes, green smoothies and vegetable curries. Sometimes I make ravioli from scratch and homemade meatballs if time is on my side. Lately I’ve found myself baking cookies with dairy-free chocolate and picking up items at Mark’s & Spencer’s new plant-based section. My skin and overall feelings of health have dwindled, sparking a decision to go back to avoiding refined sugar and processed meals.
How to achieve a health cure through a vegan diet
I’m a huge fan of Dr. Michael Greger and his non-profit site Nutrition Facts. His New York Times Best Seller How Not to Die features a daily dozen challenge – a checklist of 12 items to eat each day. The idea being to focus on what you can eat and not what you can’t. The debate on whether it’s healthier to eat animal product is something I’m avoiding because I don’t have the knowledge or expertise to factor my points across.
I do believe in living plant-based due to personal experience and my research. Vegan processed meals satisfy cravings, but it’s still processed food and mostly made with innutritious ingredients. I find it’s helpful to read labels carefully and try to source items with ingredients you’re aware of.
Have you considered a vegan diet before or have you tried to eat more plant derived meals?