Plant-Based Pause No 19: Don’t be an Unhealthy Vegan

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘Vision without action is daydream. Action without vision is nightmare.’ – Japanese Proverb


When I shop in my local supermarket, there are two things that confuse me. The first is that the gluten-free section is in the middle of the bakery department. To any supermarket designers that may be reading this – if you are allergic to gluten, it’s really annoying to have to smell freshly baked bread that you cannot eat when you’re trying to do your shopping. The second thing is that the vegetarian and vegan section is not labelled as such. Instead, it is included in the ‘Healthy Eating’ aisle. This is based on the assumption that all vegan and vegetarian food is healthy, but that’s not the case. Granted, in most meals removing the animal protein will make it healthier, but it is very easy to be an unhealthy vegan.

I grew up eating processed food. I don’t blame my parents, at the time they didn’t know it was bad for me. We were all swept up in the convenience food revolution. Now, I eat a mainly healthy, plant-based, whole food diet. I do allow myself the occasional processed snack, but it is very rare. Unfortunately, many vegans still want the convenience lifestyle. And food production companies are more than happy to oblige. That ‘Healthy Eating’ section in my local supermarket is crammed full of highly processed vegan alternatives to cheese, meats, chocolate and cakes. It’s important to remember that although it’s labelled as healthy and it’s vegan, it can still be junk food. I always live by the rule that if I don’t know what the ingredients on the pack are, and particularly if I can’t pronounce them, I probably shouldn’t be eating it.

Preparing and cooking whole food from scratch sounds like a chore, but I assure you that it can easily fit into your daily routine. You don’t need to buy packs of processed soya products to get your protein fix – spinach, mushrooms, beans, oatmeal (beware – contains gluten). wholewheat pasta, corn and potatoes are all great sources. Besides, vegan food is generally a lot quicker to prepare than meat-based meals and the ingredients are certainly a lot easier to handle. A lot of them can even be eaten raw. So, when you think about it, vegan food was really the original convenience food.