“Is It Vegan?”: The Pleasures and Perils of Plant-Based Junk Food

Plant-Based Deli Section

I’m sure I’m not the only one noticing how fresh fruit and vegetable sections at the local grocery are shrinking while the offerings of processed food are expanding– no, exploding! Shelves growing taller and wider–even wrapping around the end of every single aisle, groaning beneath the weight of every flavor and variety and size of pre-packaged meals and snacks and sweets.

And guess what? They didn’t forget the vegans! Thanks to modern food science we too can indulge in all the crunchy, crispy, golden-brown, beefy, chicken-y, cheesy, salty, sweet, creamy goodness. It’s plant-based, so it must be good for us, right??

Vegan Croissants

It really takes discipline food shopping today–to withstand the barrage of delights coming at us–at precise eye level and at every turn. And it’s no accident, it’s no coincidence that they just happen to reorganize and move stuff around every couple of months.

The retail grocery marketing industry is leading us on an adventure, designed to confuse and disarm, make us more susceptible to impulse purchases. But I don’t need to tell you that. Of course you know. But, it is convenient–even comforting to allow it to happen. The wandering, the zoning out. It can be relaxing.

Vegan Frozen Delights

And that’s okay, sometimes. No judgement here.

Just a gentle reminder that moderation and balance is key no matter your dietary lifestyle and that vegan junk food is still junk food. By junk food, I mean highly salted, sugared and processed products with little to no nutritional value. Take a look at the ingredient labels once in awhile on the following plant-based ‘foods’:

Faux deli meats, hot dogs and cheeses

Frozen Pizza, burgers, patties, tenders, filets, meatballs, sausage, ice cream, cheesecakes

Cookies, cakes, doughnuts, croissants

Snack chips, snack bars

All The Meats

Our bodies are designed to withstand a lot of abuse, and they do. We can help them function better by eating more whole foods and less junk. By whole foods I mean:

Fresh produce salads with crisp, leafy greens and crunchy vegetables

Juicy, colorful, naturally vitamin-full fruits like apples, grapefruits and oranges.

So many fresh vegetables are deliciously enhanced by the roasting process!

Potatoes, oatmeal, brown rice and other grains

Fresh steamed farro15 Minute Farro

Nuts and seeds in their whole form and ground into butters

Beans and lentils, simmered into soups, tossed on a bed of grain or greens, stuffed into sandwiches, burritos, burgers

And lest we forget, these whole foods are the foods our bodies CRAVE because they are naturally designed to be processed by the body for fuel, no matter what they are trying to sell us otherwise. Nothing has changed in this regard.

If you are thinking about going vegan, I urge you to consider the health benefits of a simple, whole food-centered diet and notice how your body feels more nourished and your nervous system more stable.

All diets need a little wiggle room, of course. And there are so many ‘fun food’ options. But, when it comes to balance, why not try for 75% whole foods and 25% discretionary foods?

Just a little food for thought…