As Vegan Food Options Increase, Consumers Must Educate Themselves To Make Healthy Choices
The Recent Boom In Heavily Processed Vegan Foods Is Not Healthy
Vegan food has become mainstream. Plant based food sales have grown twice as much versus actual meat since the pandemic began. The market for vegan foods will be worth €24 Billion in the next 5 years, and elite athletes are adopting the lifestyle for performance reasons.> However, the differences between a plant based and vegan diet are not something which is widely discussed, and in fact, the terms are often used interchangeably. Consumers often fall into the trap of first hearing about the astounding health benefits of a plant based diet from athletes, celebrity weight loss stories and more, but end up adopting a vegan diet comprised of highly processed meat substitutes and very few whole fruits & vegetables.
To clarify: A plant-based diet is centered on whole, unrefined, or minimally refined plants. It’s a diet based on fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, and legumes; and it excludes or minimizes animal products, as well as highly refined foods like bleached flour, refined sugar, and oil; veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. You can read our full post on plant based versus vegan here.
It is important to remember that in the long term, ideologically speaking, the switch from animal-based burgers, sausages, steaks, etc to alternative or meat substitutes is a transitionary phase. The easiest option for an individual looking to reduce meat consumption is to sub in a product that has an almost identical taste, texture, price point, and cooking method. In time, that consumer may educate themselves about nutrition, and transition from a full or partial vegan diet containing processed foods to a whole food, plant based diet. Change happens when it is simplified & humans seek out the path of least resistance.
Therefore, education is a piece that is most needed at this time & going forward to properly educate consumers who are new to this lifestyle and are simply not aware of the differences and nutritional fluctuations of the growing number of options. Ongoing self-education through books, documentaries, podcasts, and more is the best tool to arm yourself with the knowledge to make the right decisions & improve your health in the long term. The goal should always be to eat fresh, whole foods as close to their natural state as possible, which minimizes processing and nutrient loss.
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