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Is a vegan diet always a healthy diet?

I’ve just gotten back to Utah from Eugene, Oregon and WOW what a trip it was! I was so blessed to be able to spend some quality time with my son Erik who is a vegan chef in Eugene hiking and site seeing. 

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Eugene is literally a MECA of vegan cafes! They are everywhere! He told me it’s harder to find meat in Eugene than it is vegan food. I chose to wait on the Cleanse America cleanse so he could take me to many of the vegan cafes in Eugene he loves!  

We had a good time trying many of them out including the cafe he works at. So, it’s a good thing I am on the Cleanse program starting tomorrow! 

I had lots of amazing food, I also had some not so amazing food. It brought me back to the fact that just because you are vegan does NOT mean you or your diet is actually healthy. 

What do I mean by that?

Well, some of the biggest issues I see with many vegans are that they just don’t know what to eat or how to actually construct a nutritionally sound diet so they end up eating a lot of bread, french fries and junk food peanut butter.

The other thing I see, and honestly this one drives me bonkers, is the highly processed, packaged, expensive and chemical vegan food like fake meat and cheese products! 

Read the labels people! 

If you are on a vegan diet for health reasons, you have GOT to get this junk out of your diet. Perhaps you could use it temporarily as a transition food or very occasionally as a “treat” but as a staple in your diet it is BAD NEWS! 

Fake meat usually contains wheat gluten or textured vegetable protein, which is not very digestible and is are highly allergenic foods.

Ingredients in one fake meat product: water, isolated soy protein, vital wheat gluten, natural flavors, modified vegetable gum, potato starch, expeller pressed canola oil, pea protein, carrot fiber, organic beet root fiber, organic evaporated cane juice, yeast extract, LOTS of salt.

“If you ask Dr. Campbell, Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Furhman, Dr. Popper and the other plant-based scientific Doctors what we should be eating? They will tell you a low fat, unprocessed plant-based diet. You will not find dayia or tofurkey in their suggestion list, not even in moderation.”

Taken from the website: http://veganhope.com/2011/02/08/say-goodbye-to-vegan-junk-food/

Agave and margarine are also in my top 5 least favorite vegan foods. Agave was originally touted to be a low glycemic sweetener and everyone, including me, started slurping the stuff up like it was no ones business. It has now been show that is just NOT the case. Agave contains more concentrated fructose than high fructose corn syrup. Here are a few quotes by leading health experts on agave....

“Agave “nectar” is not made from the sap of the yucca or agave plant but from the starch of the giant pineapple-like, root bulb. The principal constituent of the agave root is starch, similar to the starch in corn or rice, and a complex carbohydrate called inulin, which is made up of chains of fructose molecules.Technically a highly indigestible fiber, inulin, which does not taste sweet, comprises about half of the carbohydrate content of agave.

The process by which agave glucose and inulin are converted into “nectar” is similar to the process by which corn starch is converted into HFCS. The agave starch is subject to an enzymatic and chemical process that converts the starch into a fructose-rich syrup—anywhere from 70 percent fructose and higher according to the agave nectar chemical profiles posted on agave nectar websites.” Ramiel Nagel

“ Agave is  indeed made the same way, using a highly chemical process with genetically modified enzymes. They are also using caustic acids, clarifiers, filtration chemicals and so forth in the conversion of agave starches into highly refined fructose inulin that is even higher in fructose content than high fructose corn syrup.” Russ Bianchi, managing director and CEO of Adept Solutions, Inc.

 Next up is margarine. Stop eating this toxic gunk vegans! Just stop!

Margarine is made from vegetable fats like soy and cottonseed. These vegetable oils are processed under extreme conditions: high heat, high pressure and using chemical solvents designed to extract the oil.   Vegetable oils are largely made up of polyunsaturated fatty acids which breaks down easily without the added insult of extreme processing during the manufacture. The go rancid quickly thus contain high levels of free radicals that are extremely damaging to the human body.

For a full description of how margarine is made check this article out: http://www.stop-trans-fat.com/how-is-margarine-made.html

For health reasons alone I will never be fully vegan. I will always chose whole foods, high raw and butter over margarine and honey over agave.  

When you are constructing your diet think:

  • Whole foods: They are just REAL. Eat an abundance of fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
  • Unpackaged foods: Less landfill material, less chemical additives for shelf life. Go on a “Package Free Diet”.
  • Unprocessed: Eat foods with as little processing as possible for the most nutrients and lease chemicals.

Here are a few guidelines to get the nutrients you need on a vegan diet.

Protein: Plant foods can provide plenty of protien. You should eat a variety of foods, including whole grains, beans and nuts, to replace the proteins in meat, milk and eggs

Calcium: Dark, leafy green vegetables, such as broccoli and bok choy, contain quite a bit, but not as much as milk or cheese. Even figs, almonds and soy foods have some. Most vegans will need fortified foods (such as soy milk or orange juice) and a supplement to get enough. Although some vegans say they need less calcium because their overall diets are better for bones, the ADA says they need as much as anyone.

Vitamin D: Vitamin D is good for bones, and research suggests it may also help prevent certain cancers and heart disease. The main source in the U.S. diet: milk. The sun is a good source, too, but not always in winter or for dark-skinned people. So many vegans will need fortified foods or supplements.

Vitamin B-12: This essential vitamin is only in animal foods. So vegans need a supplement or fortified foods.

Veganomicon

As far as vegan cookbooks go, my very, very favorite of all time is the Veganomican.

http://www.theppk.com/books/veganomicon-the-ultimate-vegan-cookbook/

If you are choosing a vegan diet or even a vegetarian or raw diet, it's SO important to educate yourself on what you are eating. What you eat becomes your body! 

Happy Whole Food Eating! :) 

In love and health,

Lori Clayton, LMT, CHHC

http://www.pureblisshealth.com/

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