Being vegan is healthy, right? Being vegan is the best way to eat, right? Nope. There are many different ways of eating a vegan diet, from eating a whole food plant based vegan, to only eating bananas, then there are junk food vegans. Not all vegan diets are made the same.
What is a Junk Food Vegan
A junk food vegan is a vegan whose diet mostly consists of processed food. This includes burgers, pizzas, vegan cheese, sweets, biscuits and meat replacements. Fresh fruit and vegetables are a small part of what they eat and home cooking isn't a thing.
Food is defined as “any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink, or that plants absorb, in order to maintain life and growth.” This means that, although we can eat these things occasionally, these items aren’t really food, there is little to no “nutritious substance” in them. They do contain calories that our bodies use to keep us alive but there is nothing in these foods that will keep us strong and healthy.
Processed foods are so popular that America celebrates an annual National Junk Food Day on July 21. Junk foods are highly processed foods that are primarily made in laboratories, such as vegan cheeses and meat substitutes. They are high in calories from sugar or fat, they have high levels of salt. Processed food contains very little dietary fibre, protein, vitamins, minerals, or other important nutrients. Also known as HFSS food (high in fat, salt and sugar), these products have become popular as they taste good, are cheap and convenient. Food manufacturers spend billions of pounds on research and development to create flavour profiles that trigger our desire for sugar, salt, and fat. Eating these foods fires up the pleasure centres in our brains, leading to addictive effects in the brain. At the same time, massive marketing appeals are used, manipulating us into favouring these products. Its all very toxic.
When junk food is the main part of a person's diet the excess fat, simple carbohydrates, and processed sugar found in junk food contributes to an increased risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and many other chronic health conditions. Studies have shown that, as early as the age of 30, arteries can begin clogging and hardening, starting the process that can lead to future heart attacks. Another problem with these high salt, high sugar, high fat foods is that people tend to eat too much in one sitting, and, once satisfied with the poor quality foods that they have eaten, people are less likely to eat any healthy foods, such as fruits or vegetables, leading to nutrient deficits.
Little and not Often
Don’t get me wrong, these types of things can be really tasty and they are fun to enjoy. The vegan ice cream, pizza, burgers, it's all good, as long as it's not all of the time. Having a treat every now and again is fine, especially if your diet is packed with good foods the rest of the time. But, making them the bulk of your diet is a really bad idea. Junk food vegans are often over weight and will suffer from many of the same health issues as meat eaters, diabetes, skin problems, arthritis, high pressure etc.
It can be very easy to be vegan and still have a very poor quality diet. Ideally, your diet should consist of mostly of whole food plant-based options like vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, fruits, grains and spices like ginger and cinnamon. As long as we're getting a balance in what we live, in how we live, we can keep the planet and ourselves healthy and help the animals.