Going vegan is a choice that’s kind to the environment and all living things. When you eliminate your consumption of animal-derived products, you’re saving lives and sparing animals from cruel confinement. You’re also reducing your carbon footprint and sparing the environment from the damage caused by factory farming. Going vegan is a real way to make a difference.
If potential health benefits are your main reason for making the switch, you may want to carefully consider how you intend to approach your vegan diet. Becoming vegan doesn’t automatically constitute a healthy diet. Healthy vegans need to make mindful choices about the way they choose to fuel their bodies through proper vegan options.
Is a Vegan Diet Healthy?
Vegan foods can be healthy. So can a diet where chicken breast is on the menu. So can a diet where low-fat dairy products, such as non-vegan cheese, are consumed. All diets can be healthy when comprised of natural, whole food ingredients, but they’re only as healthy as their adherers allow them to be. You might see tons of healthy vegan celebrities and vegan athletes eating their vegan meals, but they didn’t obtain a status of great health simply by giving up animal products and non-vegan foods. They made mindful food choices and stayed active in conjunction with their vegan lifestyles.
How It’s Easy To Miss The Mark and What You Should Consider
Many people go vegan based on the idea that it’s easier to eat a healthy diet and experience the benefits of doing so when they eliminate the calories from animal products. This is merely one part of a much larger equation, and it’s important to have realistic expectations about what really goes into making healthy decisions.
Here’s where a lot of people go wrong: what you do eat is more important than what you don’t eat. The things you don’t allow yourself to eat clearly aren’t providing anything to your body. So, the foods you do eat have to work for you.
Sugar, oil, and wheat are vegan. A vegan fried donut isn’t hard to find. A whole carton of Oreos and a family-sized bag of tortilla chips are completely vegan. Their lack of animal products doesn’t do anything to make them healthier for you. This is something that most people fundamentally understand, but even those who realize that junk food isn’t part of a healthy diet may be susceptible to falling for the health halos brands use to disguise their products. So always keep an eye out when hunting for vegan food at the grocery store!
How the Health Halo Impacts Vegans
The health halo is a term for promoting the pros of a product and conveniently glazing over the cons to make it seem more beneficial or healthier than it actually is. The packaging is cleverly designed, and words are carefully chosen to project that image. You’ll see this a lot with prepackaged vegan snacks, and especially with vegan desserts.
Truly healthy vegan ice cream can be hard to find. Most vegan ice creams have a tendency to deceive people. Vegan ice creams made from nut milk, oat milk, and coconut milk often contain little to no protein, very few nutrients, and a similar amount of sugar to regular ice cream. In the case of this swap, a low-fat dairy ice cream may be more beneficial for your body than a low nutrient, sugary vegan ice cream with not enough protein.
Even the ones that promise to be lower in calories aren’t necessarily better. They may have less sugar, but they replace that sugar with sugar alcohols like erythritol that your body is not equipped to process. It’s a filler that gives them a sweet flavor, but it doesn’t necessarily do anything for you.
Vegan Substitutes Can Be Tricky to Navigate
As far as alternative milks go, many of them are also harboring additional sugar. Many milk alternatives are flavored and sweetened to improve their taste. Even unsweetened varieties don’t boast the nutrition that many people believe they do.
While unsweetened almond milk may be low in calories, this doesn’t mean much at the end of the day. Calories aren’t a market of how healthy a food really is. It’s the protein, vitamins, and nutrients that matter the most. Almond milk is low in protein, vitamins, and nutrients. Oat milk, coconut milk, and rice milk aren’t any better.
The best plant milk in terms of nutritional profiles is unsweetened soy milk. Soy milk contains a respectable amount of protein and about a dozen essential nutrients per serving. Soy milk can rightfully be considered a health food.
But there’s one more crucial challenge for vegans to contend with. Tree nuts and soybeans are among the top 8 major allergens. Unsweetened soy milk is great for you if you can have it. Nut milks are a valuable alternative for many vegans, but they won’t work in nut-free households.
New vegans need to be aware of possible allergies that can pose an issue with vegan meat substitutes like vegan burgers. Many vegan meat substitutes contain gluten in some form or fashion. Seitan is exclusively wheat gluten, and wheat is also among the top 8 major allergens. People with wheat allergies, intolerances, or sensitivities may not have an easy time finding grab-and-go meat substitutes for dinner.
What is a Healthy Vegan Diet?
A healthy vegan diet looks a lot like any other healthy diet. The only difference is that this iteration doesn’t incorporate any animal products. No matter what diet you follow, the most important thing will always be making mindful choices about how you fuel your body.
Plant Based Protein
Most people get their protein from animal products, but vegans don’t have that option. Vegans need to find nutritious sources of plant-based protein, plant foods, and veggies that they enjoy eating, and they need to incorporate these sources of protein into every meal and vegan recipe they create.
Eliminating Processed Foods and Unnecessary Junk
Some processed food and junk foods are vegan by pure coincidence. Some junk foods are made vegan to give them a health halo. It’s best to eliminate as much processed food and junk food as possible, even if you aren’t adhering to a vegan diet. Whole foods and vegan dishes are always better for your body rather than popular junk foods or fast foods.
Moving Your Body More
Your body is meant to move. Any healthy diet needs to be supplemented by some kind of movement. You don’t need to be a marathon runner or a powerlifter. A long, leisurely stroll on a nice evening or a brisk morning walk on the beach are both healthy movement. Find a way you enjoy moving, and do it as often as possible to keep yourself active without a slip-up!
Veganism can be healthy as long as you’re making healthy choices within that diet. Snow Monkey’s mission has always been to help people treat themselves in healthy ways and supply their bodies with the energy they need with foods they enjoy eating.
Snow Monkey’s vegan ice cream was designed as a vegan alternative for a healthy vegan diet. Our ice cream is so nutritious that you can guiltlessly eat it for breakfast. Each pint packs is a good source of 20 grams of plant-based protein and a wealth of antioxidants. In addition to being vegan, our ice cream alternative is paleo-friendly and free from all eight major allergens. How’s that for a dessert that everyone can love?
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