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Vegans and Better Food ChoicesI have recently begun a vegan diet. There seems to be two reasons that one becomes a vegan, for moral and for health reasons. But most of the vegan web sites show recipes with white flour, and white sugar in many forms. Why aren't vegans more concerned about the health issues of some of the foods they promote in their recipes?
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You're right. There are different reasons one chooses a vegan diet. Mine is primarily ethical reasons and I wasn't concerned about the health aspect as much when I first went vegan years ago. Now I'm more worried about protein (although easily attainable) and whole grains. This in part may have to do with now being a mother and wanting my son to eat healthy. I would think, and could easily be wrong, that the most popular reason for a vegan diet is ethical, so most recipes are first addressing such. Not just that, but I found it easy to take many recipes and make them more healthy by just adjusting the ingredients. Whether that be whole wheat flour in cooking and baking, pasta, adding veggies, reducing sugar and such to meet your personal requirements. So in the end, I find it easier to "health-ize" a regular recipe just as I often find it better to just "vegan-ize" a traditional recipe containing meat, eggs, and dairy. With more than a hint of trial and error. Good luck.
Which foods are good - or bad? It changes over time. I have been around long enough to notice. During the Atkins low carb diet craze, potatoes were considered *bad* and the poor potato farmers were hurt. Potatoes contain lots of important nutrients. Brown rice may have more nutrients than white rice but the Asian people, who have eaten white rice for centuries, have traditionally been healthy and long lived. It is good to eat healthy - whatever that means to you. It means different things to different people. I don't eat supermarket white bread but I grew up on it and my family was healthy. My mother said when she was young white bread was believed to be pure and good. Beliefs change over time. Joy in eating may be more important than anything else. A vegan diet is about love and compassion for sentient beings for many of us and it can be interpreted through many different eating patterns.
Many people become vegan for ethical rather than health reasons. These good people are thinking more about animal welfare and the environment than their own well-being.
It is true to say that some vegans do not eat as healthy as they could. However saying the same thing about meat eaters is equally valid. While your statement about white flour and sugar is quite vague what you may be referring to is transition foods. That is foods which mimic traditional family foods. While not always the most healthy way to eat, many people find them helpful while transitioning themselves and their families to a Vegan diet.
RAVEdiet.com And seriously, why are you attacking people that are actually taking steps to support a cause, whatever their reason. If you want to lecture someone about the starving people of the world, start wtih the majority of America who are obese, not vegans~ most of whom are not overweight.
The majority of omnivores eat a diet based in white flours and white sugars. Vegan does not always mean healthy. You can have a junk food vegan just as easily as you can have a junk food omni. The while flour and the white sugar makes the transition easier for people as well. I personally like using 75% whole wheat flour and 25% white flours when I bake.
Thank you for posting this question, as I wondering the very same thing! I was a vegan for health reasons about 10 years ago and slowly went back to eating a flexitarian diet. That being said, for my own well being again, have found myself gravitating back to a more vegan/vegetarian manner of eating. I have researched all the restaurants, products, etc. and am appalled at how overly processed many of the substitutes are. While I am appreciative of the growing and seemingly endless options available now, I am shocked at the use of white flour, sugar, preservatives, oils and the like used in the making of these "healthy" foods. The foods all sounds delicious and I am pleased that the diversity of options now includes the ability to eat faux pulled pork, but my goodness the ingredients! Yikes! Combine that with a hamburger style bun and it just seems wrong to me health wise. All those steps to make what was once a health vegetable processed in such a way to simulate almost any meat product. Not to mention the sodium levels! Double yikes! One of the things that I have gravitated to and been pleased by is the innovation in the raw food community.The use of whole foods, rather than processed is what I am gravitating to. I want to know what I am eating. I like knowing what I can do in new and interesting ways with whole foods rather than eat something that is meant as a healthy alternative but has more ingredients in it than the dictionary.
Perhaps it is b/c the cost associated with going with non-white flour/sugar is too much. Also, it alters the taste which some are not used to.
I became vegan because of the deplorable conditions of factory farms. I remain vegan because of my compassionate nature and respect for sentient life. I am not a health-food "nut," but I do care about what I put in my body. There are several vegans out there like me. White flour, while not good for our bodies, does not cause other sentient beings to suffer and/or die. So, being a compassionate vegan, I do eat some white flour.
I find this also very puzzling. I only buy organic if I can and was at the organic store to look for wholewheat soup noodles and they just don't stock it. She told me that most people only buy the white pasta. They spend so much money on getting organic, but then don't care that there is no nutritional value in what they are buying. It seems like vegan is not synonymous with health, rather something like the Mcdougall diet is.
Why to go with your vegan diet. Personally, I think there are three reasons why people become vegan:
animal rights, health and environmental. Most of the vegans I have met are animal rights folks, so they are concerned more about animal health than there own. It is possible to eat a very unhealthy vegan diet. Likewise with people that are primarily focused on the environment. Personal, my primary reasons are for health and the environment. So I try to focus on fresh veges and whole grains.
I disagree. I have been a vegan all my life, there are a variety of foods that can be taken , well sticking to the balanced diet chart proposed by our nutrisionist. Starting with grains(whole), lentils, vegetables, dry fruits, fruits....and they can be taken in multiple forms to suit the taste and season. Each of these could be a sweet, sour , spicy or even turned into a desert. Its to look at the right place for the best recipes. I love being a vegetarian and would encourage more to be one, to save our animal world.
I think that by simply abstaining from the use of animal foods, vegans ARE eating healthier than their meat eating counterparts. If you are not able to find healthy recipes, you are looking in the wrong place! There are plenty of healthy ones out there. Try fat free vegan kitchen website. There are also some really good cookbooks out there. You can also substitute for whatever flour or sweetener you want in most recipes. Also, I think that many vegan recipes try to mimic traditional ones that use animal products to make it easier for a vegan to abstain from animal products. What I mean is if for example you are a new vegan who is looking for a pizza recipe and you come across one that uses white flour vs. one that uses wheat flour, the one with white flour will taste closer to the pizza you are used to eating. In my experience, I have had to acquire a taste for certain vegan things. For example, when I first stopped dairy and eggs, I tried Nasoya mayo and thought it was disgusting. I think this is because I had just stopped eating regular mayo and had something to compare it too. Now, I really like Nasoya mayo & think it is because it has been so long since I have had traditional mayo that my taste buds have nothing to compare the Nasoya to. I have acquired a taste for it. I know many people who have tried to become vegetarians and vegans, but have not succeeded & I think this is largely in part because they tried the wrong things and were turned off by the "taste of healthy food." I am in no way saying that the only vegan food that tastes good is the food that tastes exactly like non-vegan food. I am simply saying that when making the transition, I think it is easier to find foods that taste similar to make the process easier.
Judging from the vegans that I know, we fill our diets with healthful foods like salads, veggie soups and stews, hearty root dishes, and our favorite meat substitutes. Sweets are generally reserved for special occasions and for non-vegan events where we want to introduce yummy vegan goodies to skeptics. Most recipes that I know of call for whole-wheat pastry flour instead of white flour and raw sugar or agave/maple syrup instead of white sugar. Many non-vegans cruising the web for something to make for a vegan friend might not have all the healthy essentials in their pantry, and choose to go for the more familiar versions instead. It's all a choice, and I believe it is a gross inaccuracy to say that vegans generally choose unhealthy over-processed foods. Not in my house, that's for sure!
The Nomadic Vegan:
I think that a lot of vegans are concerned about health issues, i.e. eating whole grains more fruits/vegetables, but when they first become vegan, it's easier to do substitution recipes. Simply substituting tofu for eggs in a quiche with Earth Balance instead of butter in the flaky white flour crust is more familiar for some people than making a black bean risotto with kamut grains, kale and black olives. For that reason, most of the recipes that come at the top in an Internet search are substitution recipes, because they are popular searches by new vegans (or vegans who are looking to prepare a dish for non-vegan friends) and get commented on and have high rankings. Once vegans learn how to prepare grains, beans and use herbs/spices, they don't need recipes any more, just their imagination. Vegans don't need a recipe to mix up vegetables and grains, but they do need exact measurements to bake up a successful batch of cookies or a fluffy cake. For that reason people will search for a recipe for cookies, but not necessarily a recipe for barley. But why don't those submitting recipes use whole grain flour and molasses/brown rice syrup in recipes instead of white flour and sugar? I imagine it's because most vegans figure that they eat healthy all of the time anyway, so using white flour for a batch of cookies isn't going to make that much of a difference. Or, if they've been vegan for a while, they are already familiar with substituting flours/oils/sweeteners so they just search for a regular recipe and do the substitutions at home. It also goes back to the formula for Internet searches and that these recipes are popular searches for new vegans and remain high in Internet rankings, so it's hard for new whole grain healthy recipes to get into the rankings. If you want some ideas about how to use whole grains in your recipes, check out this website, www.healthyveganrecipes.net.
Hey there, there are alot of vegan recipes out there that have well, lets face it, not the healthiest of ingredients. The trick is to do alot of researching via internet, talking to a vegan chef, or going to the library and checking out books and if you like the books enough, buy em'. some books I have used as reference are the Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone, or the ever famous Skinny Bitch books by Rory freedman and Kim Marnouin. The Kind Diet incorporates the macro diet and vegan diet. Skinny Bitch is basically vegan straight through. Instead of using ingredients like bleached flour, refined white sugar, etc, use things like Agave nectar, blackstrap molasses, brown rice syrup, chickpea flour, whole wheat flour, whole wheat pastry flour. there are alot of recipes that all you need to do is learn your conversion tables for the substitute ingredients I mentioned before, and well, out with the old and in with the new. if your're looking to get some books for cheap, i like half.com, its a sister to ebay and i have used it for a few things now and have always been very satisfied with my purchases. hope this helps a little anyway.
I think we vegans are torn between wanting to make foods that non-vegans will like (i.e. lots of white flour, white sugar, earth balance, etc.) because we are already "different" enough and we want to show that being vegan can be delicious. Also, I think we don't want to always feel we are missing out on the guilty pleasures that we see everywhere we go at every gathering. I think it is nice to have some non-healthy yummy vegan treats sometimes, but have the daily staples be very healthy.
I think you'll find that most vegans are mindful of the "health issues" that go along with their recipes. Ethical veganism is not a diet; it's a way of life. Ethical vegans are first & foremost concerned with the plight of animals used for food, & the fact that it's wrong to exploit animals in any way. That said, just through the process of learning what is available to vegans to eat, many of us learn what is healthy & what is not. In moderation, flour (unbleached, & hopefully wheat) & sugar (non-bone char processed, of course) are OK; you just don't want to overdo it. Honestly, I have a feeling you may have been on a baking or dessert website. There are a zillion different recipes for main & side dishes that have nothing to do with flour & sugar. Congratulations on your recent conversion to veganism; keep up your research for recipes. There's a lot out there, & a lot to learn; it might seem overwhelming at first, but remember, it's for the animals' sake. If you have questions, you know where to look for answers! :
You might be interested in this article, "The Fat Vegan", by Dr. John McDougall from a past newsletter. http:
Well, you've already answered your own question in part. As you mention, one of the reasons some people choose veganism is because of morality and ethics. So there's your answer for those vegans. As for those who do it for health reasons, look at it this way> First one needs to ask:
why aren't ALL people (not just vegans) more concerned about health issues in the food they eat? Some folks just don't care. Then there are those who do care about health, but choose a diet other than vegan for pursuing their health. There IS no perfect diet. Someone somewhere has found fault with every food item and every diet that exists. While it's justified to expect vegans to have a higher standard, remember that vegan = no animal products. period. It doesn't = perfect. No diet does. I know from experience that when vegans post recipes that include obscure items that the average person will not have in their kitchen, and items that are difficult to find or expensive to buy, then the recipes are ignored. I recently saw a contest on the Food Network site for green bean casseroles. There were six famous chefs' recipes. One of them was a low-fat vegetarian version. Paula Deen's was a high-fat, trans fat, meaty, heavily cheesy version. Her version got the most votes. I suspect many people didn't even try to make the healthier, veg version. My point is that sometimes it's just about making vegan recipes accessible and palatable to regular folks. What's wrong with that?
Although I would like to be, I'm not a vegan, but when I started looking for healthier recipes for my family, I started looking for vegetarian and vegan recipes. I look online, and I pour through recipe books, and I have to say that this is something that has totally surprised me. I look for recipes that are as natural as possible, whole grains, no refined sugars, no artificial ingredients, etc. It's not easy to find recipes like this. Even in the vegan cookbooks. I want to make fresh breads, baked goods and desserts for my family, without the refined ingredients, and although I realize many people eat vegan for entirely ethical reasons, I guess I expected vegan recipes to treat our own bodies better as well. That is not to say that I haven't found some great healthy vegan cookbooks out there, and when I find one I guarantee you it makes it's way to my bookshelf.
I think the reason for this is the same reason that the majority of the "non-vegan" foods out there are made with white flour and white sugar...because that is what people are used to eating and that is unfortunately what is readily available. Also, there are many people out there who just do not understand the importance of eating healthy. Some people may argue that these highly processed and refined types of foods taste better, however I believe that is only due to habit. Once you begin eating more foods made with whole grains and start using lower amounts of sweetener (and substituting maple syrup, brown rice syrup, molasses, etc), your tastes will actually change and adjust. You will begin to prefer more wholesome foods and if you go back to trying the older versions you will find that they are just too sweet! Experiment with some of the recipes out there, just use all whole-grain flour and an alternative sweetener (and use less of it). You will need to adjust the amount of liquid in the recipe if you are using liquid sweeteners but this comes easily with some practice. Also, keep in mind that any type of baked goods should be eaten in moderation. One last bit of advice is to check out some raw foods sites for ideas...they often use natural sweeteners such as dates and other nutrient rich foods in their recipes. It is entirely possible to create vegan treats which are both delicious and nutritious!
I think when people are new to a vegan diet they just don't know what to do--so they delete the animal products they don't want, but don't substitute better foods. After a while I think they start looking for more healthful foods and recipes, and relearn how to cook.
I agree with this view! I also recently have become a vegan and am enjoying the benefit of it. However, finding healthy recipis is not always the case. Hvite sugar and white flour are unhealthy but unfortunately in many of the vegan recipies. Then becoming VEGAN is not so healthy anymore! I wish those who make the cooking books would take this into concideration and use other alternetives f.e. Xylitol, agavesirup etc. and f.e. wholewheat SPELT instead of white sugar and white flour. I change the recipis but it is a bother and makes you wonder if those VEGANS who eat like that really are healthy?? What also is missing in our diet is a substitute for cheese! All the best Sóla living in Denmark
I agree. There are so many Vegan Sweets promoted that Vegans will be on the road to the fattest group. I've been a vegan for nearly 10 years, but this year I've decided to try and be a HEALTHIER Vegan. I'm going to look for the perfect cookbook and cook my way through it like from the movie Julia and Julia. That way I'm teaching myself new foods to eat and new ways to prepare it. I really want to lessen my consumption of processed foods. Being a vegan is great, being a healthy vegan is even greater!! And by the way my body fat is 30% as a vegan. So that shows me right there that simply being a vegan is not enough healthwise. I must add exercise and a better way of eating in addition to being a vegan.
I agree with this. I'd love to go vegan, but have a problem with hypoglycemia, and many recipes call for ingredients that I just can't tolerate. I would love to see more recipes that adjust for whole grain flours and keep the sugar content relatively low.