Every time I come across a new vegan on Instagram, my heart fills up with excitement, joy and pride. Excitement because they will soon start to view food from a completely different, but amazing perspective. Joy because they may improve their health dramatically, and pride because it is such a difficult lifestyle to choose in the world we currently live in.
In saying that, my heart breaks a little when I realise that they will be basing their diet around vegan meat/dairy replacements. Of course everyone is entitled to do what works for them, I’m no vegan police. But, I personally don’t think it’s the best way to go vegan.
People go vegan for different reasons – ethical, environmental, health, weight loss e.t.c. Health was my reason. I’ve since come to appreciate the ethical/environmental side of things, but I don’t see vegan activism in my future at all. I’m just putting that out there for anyone wondering.
Whatever your reason is for choosing this lifestyle, I feel that you lose its most crucial benefit (health) if you don’t embrace it in its purest form aka eating whole, natural foods. People really fail to realise that processed food is processed food. Once they see the word ‘vegan’ on the label, they believe it is healthier. I
hate love to burst your bubble, but that is wrong!
The less ideal way to go vegan
I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with eating processed vegan food occasionally. But, if on a daily basis, your meals contain vegan cheese, ‘chicken’ pieces, fake meats or some other type of replacement, then you’re not reaping any benefits from this lifestyle.
You see, processed vegan foods (unlike whole natural foods), are made to be hyper-palatable, just like their non-vegan counterparts. They either contain high levels of fat, salt, sugar or all three. They also contain preservatives that we really don’t need to be ingesting.
Weight loss may not be your reason for going vegan. You may even already look healthy, with defined muscles (my dream, lol), but you may still be at risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes or cancer. Please understand that a person’s physique doesn’t indicate their level of internal health. You may have heard/read about the celebrity personal trainer ‘Bob Harper’ who recently suffered a heart attack. If you missed it, google is your best friend.
With this in mind, why would you leave a toxic diet with the intention to live a healthier lifestyle, but still go on to eat a slightly less toxic diet?
Maybe I’m being a little dramatic, maybe I’m not… But, we don’t all have the same genetics. Maddie may be able to get away with it, but Ana may not. So why play Russian roulette when you can just eat wholesome vegan food and really enjoy the benefits of a vegan lifestyle? Benefits here being weight loss, reduced blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, better digestive health… the list is endless!
I should add here that people who have been vegan for a long time, but have not experienced any health benefit whatsoever are most likely guilty of eating highly processed vegan diets. And that also includes things like soft drinks (soda), crisps, cakes e.t.c
The best way to go vegan
Even if you’re only interested in saving the animals and the environment, it doesn’t hurt to improve your own health along the way. You can do this simply by sticking to a whole, plant based diet at least 80% of the time.
Eat generous amounts of whole grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits, but small amounts of nuts and seeds. Avoid refined oils, eat them in their natural form. Swap:
- olive oil with olives;
- coconut oil with coconuts;
- avocado oil with avocados;
Eating foods in their natural form ensures that you also get all the other phytochemicals, macro- and micronutrients instead of one single nutrient in an unnatural form/dose.
Don’t be fooled by the hype that agave is healthier than sugar, it is actually worse. It is 1.4 to 1.6 times sweeter, and more calorie dense than regular sugar. Agave also contains high levels of fructose. While it may not spike your blood glucose levels, it can promote liver disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Artificial sweeteners don’t contain the calories, but they may interfere with your natural gut flora causing bloating and other digestive issues. You’re better off eating sugar. Coconut sugar, brown sugar and every other type of sugar has the same effect on insulin as white sugar. I’d stick to white sugar if you must have sugar, it’s cheaper than all of the other fancy ones, lol.
Of course I don’t expect everyone to agree with the opinions I’ve expressed in this post. Notwithstanding, I believe, this is the best way to get as much out a vegan diet as is possible. Chime in, what sort of foods do you eat regularly? Natural foods only, a combination of natural and processed or processed mainly?