I’ve been reflecting on the whole Veganuary thing over the last couple of weeks and whilst I LOVE the fact that so many people are taking the plunge and giving plant based eating a whirl I can’t help feeling a little uneasy about it.
With so many plant based products flooding into the shops at the moment it must feel like there’s never been a better time to switch to plant based.
I don’t want to come across as a party pooper here, but just because it’s easier to find plant based products it doesn’t mean they are good for you.
All of those fake meats and cheeses may start out using natural ingredients such as coconut, peas or soya beans but by the time they have been processed into something vaguely resembling cheese or a burger or sausage they’re far from natural.
Your glorious fruits and vegetables are being turned into Frankenfoods and are a far cry from the bountiful source of nutrients that nature had packaged up so beautifully for you and that your body knows instinctively how to use.
Take your average pea protein burger on the other hand. If you study the ingredients list you’ll almost always see ‘pea protein isolate’ listed. It sounds innocent enough doesn’t it? The trouble is your body doesn’t instinctively know what to do with pea protein isolate This is not something that is found in this state in nature.
If you eat a pea it contains all of the vitamins, minerals, fibre, enzymes and other phytonutrients that help your body to identify it as ‘pea’ and digest and absorb it appropriately.
Pea protein isolate, or any other protein isolate for that matter, isn’t a whole food, it doesn’t contain all of the nutrients and co-factors found in a pea in nature and so your body may not recognise what you are eating.
If your body can’t recognise the foods you eat as natural, nutritional foods it may trigger an immune response. You might not notice any symptoms or side effects if you indulge in a vegan burger every now and again but if you’re using meat or cheese substitutes in most meals you could be unwittingly overloading on substances that are causing your body extra challenges and symptoms may start to become apparent.
Whole foods plant based eating on the other hand focuses on eating food in as close to natural state as possible. Any processing you’re able to do in your home kitchen is unlikely to change the foods beyond recognition so you’ll be getting maximum nutrition from your meals.
Cook from scratch and then you know exactly what you’re eating.
Find meals you love eating and batch cook and freeze if possible so you’ll always have a wholesome ready-meal in the freezer ready to go and you won’t be tempted with those substitute products so often.
If you must eat meat substitutes or other fake-foods make it an occasional addition to an otherwise whole food diet.
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