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Plant-based ≠ Vegan

Updated: Nov 11, 2021

Plant-Based is NOT Vegan

Plant-based refers to a diet predominately based on eating whole food, plant sources. A plant-based diet consists of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, herbs, and spices. The individual may, on occasion, consume animal products, such as meat, fish, eggs, and dairy, that meet the following qualifiers: organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed, antibiotic, and hormone-free. A whole-foods, plant-based diet is centered around minimally processed, unrefined, organic plant-foods found in their raw and pure state (think, farm to fork). These foods are health-promoting, nutritious, and what nature has naturally created for us.

On the other hand, a vegan diet excludes all animal-derived products and includes fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains, herbs + spices, but also can include processed oils and processed foods such as:

Fake Meats such as textured vegetable proteins and store-bought frozen veggie burgers (i.e., Beyond Meat, Gardein, and Impossible Foods) contain soy protein isolate, made in a laboratory petri dish by soaking soybeans in the chemical, hexane, a known carcinogen, and neurotoxin. The majority of fake meats contain non-organic soy, which uses the hexane extraction method that damages our bodies and the environment.

Fake meats also consist of copious amounts of fillers and additives (MSG, GMOs, emulsifiers, thickening agents such as nitrosamine, hydrogenated oils, gluten, evaporated cane juice, titanium dioxide for color, and potassium chloride).

Many vegetarian meat substitutes contain MSG, which increases your insulin response, tricking your body into thinking you can eat more than you actually should, and has also been found to autoimmune disorders and migraines. Even Betty Crocker’s Bac-O’s Bacon Flavor Bits is considered vegan…

Fake Cheeses (made from processed soy, potato and oil starches, carrageenan, preservatives, and natural flavors. Stick to dairy-free cheeses made from Nuts, Seeds, and Coconut Oil. See my recommended Plant-based Cheeses article for more.

Cheap Oils such as Corn oil, Sunflower Oil, Safflower Oil, Canola Oil often contracted with hexane and causes an imbalance of Omega 6 in our diet, leading to inflammation and increased risk for heart disease, obesity, prostate, and bone cancer.

The significant shift to an increase in animal-free and dairy-free foods has led big food companies to race to add more vegetarian and vegan options to their menus. However, many of these new food items are made in factories, have a slew of chemical additives and binders that have adverse health effects, and are not necessarily healthier alternatives to their animal-containing counterparts. Just because you are vegan doesn’t mean you are consuming healthy foods for yourself or the planet. Consuming fake foods made in a factory that are engineered to taste like something else seems inauthentic and unhealthy.

We need to begin focusing on the quality of food and where it is sourced from as opposed to seeking out food products that merely have labels saying “vegan,” “dairy-free,” “gluten-free,” etc. Besides, most of these so-called “vegan” foods are heavily processed from GMO soy and corn and are packaged in chemically-laden plastics that leach into the food. In addition, become a conscious consumer and be wary of marketing ploys by large food manufacture, who are using the term “plant-based” on their food labels, even when the food product is not truly healthy.

It is not about becoming a flaming vegan. It is about making better food choices. Fake meat or cheeses do not strike me as contributing to a healthy lifestyle. The key to a well-balanced diet is variety and nutrient density. If you are ethically committed to a vegan diet, focus on staying as close to nature as possible by eating whole food sources. Plan your meals to satisfy nutritional needs by including lots of plant phytochemicals from fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, healthy fats from avocados, coconut, extra virgin olive oil, raw nuts and seeds, and protein from hemp seeds, chia seeds, nut-butters, nutritional yeast, and sprouted beans and lentils, and quinoa.

Anna Marshall

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