Sunday, November 30, 2014

Vegan junk food junkies - Are you one of them?

Vegan fried tempeh temptation
Oh yes, they are out there. I was a junk food junkie vegetarian for many years. Cookies are vegetarian. Potato chips are vegetarian. Soda pop is vegetarian too. That doesn't make any of them good for you. So, how can someone who professes to be a vegan stoop to washing down their veggie burger with a diet soda? Well, it happens and for the same reason it happens to omnivores. Vegans aren't perfect. They have bad habits, just like everyone else. Plus, many of us are prone to caving, having lived in an omnivorous culture for so long. My main enemy in this respect is cheese, since I grew up in dairy country. For other vegans, it may be something else entirely.

I”m so lucky!

I consider myself lucky (yes, lucky) to have had a close encounter with Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis. It was a wake up call for me. You see, things like sugar, processed foods and dairy products can contribute to inflammation. In turn, that inflammation can cause dormant conditions (such as Lupus and Rheumatoid) to rear their ugly heads. I was a vegetarian, but I was eating way too much junk food and had a massive extended flare. That's what first prompted me to go vegan. Since taking that step, I feel much better. I will always have these conditions, but a healthy diet will keep my symptoms at bay. Sure, I have my moments of being an imperfect vegan. Still, the results of getting off the healthy track encourage me to keep plugging away.

Meat and dairy substitutes:

That brings us to the subject of commercially made vegan substitutes for meat and dairy. I've addressed this in other articles. In my opinion, they're junk food. They're processed food, no matter what you want to call them. Having read the packages of many a commercially made vegan burger, I generally decline them. However, they are much healthier than the meat based alternative. And if you're picky enough and read the labels, there are a few out there with just a few simple ingredients. So, I suppose, if one was really wanting a burger, they would be a viable alternative. I simply don't feel it's wise to eat them on a regular basis. Remember, there are homemade options that are much healthier.

Cravings are not omnivore exclusive.

Cravings will get you every time. There are healthy foods you can make yourself that will satisfy your need for crunchy, salty or sweet foods. There's no need to reach for that bag of chips. Slice some sweet potatoes thinly. Spritz with olive oil and bake. Sprinkle them with powdered lemon zest as a salt substitute. They're absolutely delicious and nutritious besides. Whipped frozen bananas with vanilla make an awesome sub for ice cream. In fact, no matter what kind of junk food you crave, you can make a homemade vegan substitute that's tasty and good for you.

Any lifestyle or diet change takes time and work.

Vegans really have to remember why they've adopted this diet/lifestyle. It's about saving innocent animals. It's about saving the planet. However, it's also about eating a healthy diet. Don't be so quick to reach for something on the shelf, simply because it's vegan. It's devoid of meat, eggs, seafood and dairy. That doesn't always mean it's good for you. It could be filled with sugars and additives and still be considered vegan. Is it organic? Is it chemical free? Does it contain GMO's? Is it nutrient dense? Part of being vegan is being aware of the consequences of what you eat. Try to remember, the other animals aren't the only ones who suffer from your bad food choices.

Vegan junk food junkies are everywhere. Are you one of them? If so, you may want to change your evil ways.

Portions of this article were previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.

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