People go vegan for a number of reasons the most common being to end animal cruelty, improve health, increase sustainability, and religious beliefs. Today I’m going to cover the health aspects of veganism. Self-compassion is an important part of a healthy lifestyle and as such you should be putting the most nutritious substances into your body. Being vegan does not automatically make you healthier. You need a well-balanced plant based diet with a variety of fruits, vegetables, legumes, roots, leafy greens, herbs, and spices.
If you mostly eat things like frozen French fries, strawberry pop tarts, Oreos, and other processed foods, you may be vegan but not necessarily a healthy one. A poor vegan diet may result in anemia, dizzy spells, and even high cholesterol. Processed foods may also become “unvegan” as is the case with Kellogg’s cereals since they now derive their vitamin D from animal products as of the beginning of 2011.
A good way to remain vegan and healthy is to shop mostly in the produce section, and to have a list of manufacturers you trust for items that aren’t fresh. You should also learn how to cook at home and make the best use of left overs. In the US over 40% of food gets discarded every year. Many vegan meals can be made in 20 minutes or less since there is no meat to cook and by making small meals or freezing your leftovers, you can live a more sustainable life.
When grocery shopping outside of the produce section, I choose tems with the least amount of ingredients as possible. I also take note of new items I would like to try and do an internet search to see if the product is vegan, i.e. “strawberry pop tarts vegan”. The less ingredients, the easier it is for you to decide if it is vegan by just looking at the label and as a last resort, you can email the manufacturer.
Buying items with 5 items or less helps keeps harmful chemicals out of your body and helps create a demand for items with few ingredients. Below is a list of a few items I like to buy that have 5 ingredients or less. Crisco has 6 but it is an all-vegetable shortening that can be used to replace butter, margarine, or lard in recipes.
- Topo Chico Mineral Water – (Water, Carbon Dioxide)
- Los Pericos Tostadas – Corn, Oil, Water, Lime
- Diana’s Corn Tortillas – Fresh ground corn, treated with lime and water
- Sun Vista Garbanzo Beans – (Water, Garbanzo Beans, Salt, Sodium
Bisulfite (for color retention), Sodium Edta
- Zulca Pure Cane Sugar – Pure Cane Sugar
- Ralph’s Instant Oatmeal- Rolled oats.
- Maseca Masa – Selected Corn treated with Lime
- Maseca For Tamales – Selected Corn Treated with Lime
- Crisco All Vegetable Shortening – Soybean Oil, Fully Hydrogenated Palm Oil, Partially hydrogenated Palm and Soybean oils, Mono and Diglycerides,
TBHQ and Citric Acid (antioxidants).
1 cup Crisco + 2 tablespoons water = 1 cup butter or margarine.
- Smart Balance Organic Whipped Buttery Spread (100% Vegan).
With Smart Balance make sure you get the green one that says 100% vegan on the package. They have a non-vegan version.
This list has some basic items that should get you making some delicious meals in the kitchen without compromising your vegan lifestyle.