Junk food, I defy you!
One thing I love about being vegan is that it forces one to become health-conscious about the food one consumes. Reading food labels and ingredients lists is entirely second-nature to me, as is researching the nutritional value of various vegetables and finding out what are the best plant-based sources for various essential vitamins and minerals. I prepare meals more aware and perhaps psychosomatically, I feel healthier with every bite, knowing I am getting a good amount of protein, or amino acids, or B vitamins, or potassium, or omega 3 : 6 ratio, etc. However, being vegan does not necessarily equate to eating healthily. There are such creatures as “junk food vegans” who tend to give veganism a bum “health” rap (remember, chips and pop are unhealthily vegan). I am most definitely not one of those, but I’m also not perfect, and I sometimes crave sugar and fat (think ketchup on fries!). There is nothing wrong with small indulgences, like ordering a vegan pizza every now and then, or getting fries instead of salad with your veggie burger, but it’s when these types of food choice get out of hand that we start to adopt the eating habits of typical junk-food Americans and this is a terrible thing for vegans.
In addition to it being disadvantageous for our health, consuming high fat, low nutrient, highly processed foods defeats a major benefit of the vegan diet, and that is that it is (and can easily be) so much healthier than a diet including meat protein (especially in the processed and factory-farmed varieties). While animal welfare is my number one reason for going vegan, environmentalism and human health are close seconds and I simply can’t deny the importance of a well-rounded nutritious diet. Granted, these diets tend to be much more challenging both in terms of food preparation and creativity, but the rewards for putting in such a formidable effort are plenty. No one can underestimate good health, which arguably includes healthy eating (read: whole food, plant-based), lots of exercise (daily), and a moderate and sufficient amount of sleep, play, and stress.
Lately, I have found a renewed curiosity in the raw food diet. It would be almost impossible to eat “vegan junk food” if I were more “raw”. I am thinking of possibly starting slowly, say, once a week I only eat raw food, but this is merely just a seed of thought at the moment. Of course, I would have to do some reading. I would likely start with “Becoming Raw” by Brenda Davis (et al.) and go from there. Regardless of whether or not I entertain the possibility of going more raw, I have the willpower and knowledge to reduce the junk food I consume to become even healthier. Sure, highly processed foods like fake meats and cheeses are irresistibly delicious, but nothing beats a whole food plant-based meal that was painstakingly prepared with all the nutritious values in mind.