Once a lifestyle practiced by the genuine bee-hive defenders and poultry allies, veganism has grown to become the diet choice of many popular celebrities like Beyoncé, Brad Pitt, JLo, and anyone else hip with selling their souls to the latest trends. There’s now even a comprehensive list of certified Hollywood vegans! More and more people are switching to a vegan diet because of what they believe it can do for their body, which is not what veganism was initially about.
According to The Vegan Society, “Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”
However, in today’s pop culture it’s transformed into, well, the new yoga. And as with anything that goes mainstream, it’s important to ask ourselves “is it worth it?” Is a vegan diet as healthy as all of the gurus have raved?
Gluten, soy, legumes, and sugar are four of the most common nutrient groups you’ll see the typical vegan consume, if not the main dishes on the menu. Let’s see just what these foods are doing to mainstream vegans and hot-bodied celebrities.
Vegans really like sandwiches. In fact, many modern day vegan chefs have been finding ways to transform old carnivorous favorites, like Big-Mac’s and hot dogs, into beautiful meatless masterpieces. The problem with a diet like this, however, is that it is extremely high in gluten. Gluten, a protein composite made up of the proteins glutenin and gliadin, is most commonly found in grains like wheat, barley, spelt, and rye. Gluten gets its name because of its glue-like characteristics. It helps its food hold their shape.
In the dough making process, gluten forms “a sticky cross-linked network of proteins” when flour and water are mixed, adding elasticity to the dough. In short, gluten is the stuff that makes your bread rise! It’s the reason our bagels and rolls are so fluffy and chewy! It’s also the reason why many people have been diagnosed with a range of illnesses.
You’ve probably heard of Celiac disease before, and by now you’re probably annoyed of all this gluten talk given you love bread and don’t have the disease. Though Celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten, is reported to only affect about 1 percent of the population, the other ninety-nine aren’t in the clear just yet. Many people could actually be living with a gluten intolerance, called non-celiac gluten sensitivity, without even knowing it.
And, even if you’re not Celiac and you don’t have NCGS, you’re still at risk. Diseases and serious health conditions like heart disease, Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, and arthritis have all been linked to diets high in gluten. Persons with a gluten sensitivity most commonly report having gut-related symptoms, like leaky gut, gas, bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, inflammation, and diarrhea. But many also suffer from brain-related symptoms like brain fog, fatigue, and even Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia. Skin complications like psoriasis and eczema have also been found to be linked to the consumption of foods containing gluten.
Long story short: Gluten could have you tootin’ and your health could be losin’!
Another common meat substitute for vegans (and vegetarians) is soy, often in the form of tofu. Though delicious, soy is far from nutritious. The food industry has done a pretty fantastic job of getting enough people on the soy bandwagon. Many have even believed the idea that soy is a health food and that it’s a popular staple among East Asians. Not only are both of these ideas blatant lies, but they also ignore some of the most obvious dangers of eating soy.
Soy, a protein derived from the soybean plant, is high in protease inhibitors, goitrogens, and (more commonly known), estrogen. Protease inhibitors are toxins that block the body’s digestion of proteins. Goitrogens can lead to thyroid problems as they prevent the thyroid from properly processing iodine. Large amounts of estrogen can have negative effects in women and men alike! In men, an improper ratio of estrogen to testosterone can lead to decreased stamina, fat buildup, and (sadly) man boobs! In women, soy will not enlarge our breasts or make us more feminine, but can instead attack our womanhood. It can often be the culprit behind infertility, abnormal periods, and breast cancer!
Since vegans can’t eat meat, they have to get their protein from other food sources. Legumes like, beans, chickpeas, lentils, and peanuts are a great way for vegans (the health conscious ones who are minding their nutrients) to get protein in their diets, as well as feel fuller after meals.
But here’s the devastating thing about legumes: they’re horrible for you. Sure, there are some health benefits to eating beans and peanuts, but when the bad outweighs the good, I’d say it’s time to ditch the food group altogether. Legumes contain a number of potentially harmful ingredients. The list includes:
- Protease inhibitors
- High in carbs (bad for weight loss)
When consumed, these contents can lead to leaky gut, chronic inflammation, an overproduction of estrogen and more! Paleo magazine’s 10 reasons to Avoid Eating Legumes, will break down each one of those ingredients for you in greater depth!
So if you’ve spent any time on the explore section of Instagram at all, there’s a huge change you’ve seen the infamous “smoothie bowl.” And if you’ve heard that term, you’ve probably heard even more talk of “raw desserts.” Now, don’t get me wrong! Raw desserts and smoothie bowls are both beautiful and tempting! But, like any other dessert made with a meat product of some sort, these sweet treats are pushing the sugar limit. And like most anyone with a non-vegan diet living in the Western World, vegans are crazy for sugar and often over-consume it!
If you find this shocking, I encourage you to read my sister article to this, where I share my own experience with sugar addiction, why it’s harmful, and how to be free from it!
I know it seems like this is just a knock on veganism, but it’s actually just a knock on how pop culture will quickly jump onto new trends with little to no knowledge of what they’re getting themselves into. It’s important to make wise and informed choices, especially when it concerns your health, regardless of what new wave everyone is catching on to. Of course, veganism isn’t all bad. If you genuinely love animals and want to not take advantage of them for your own purposes, good for you. By all means, pursue a vegan lifestyle if it suits your personal values. Heck, I’d even go as far as to say do it for the hot bod! But if that’s your reason for going vegan, at least take into consideration all that I’ve shared with you about the potential downfalls of incorporating certain vegan-friendly foods into your diet.
There’s always ways around things, and veganism can be a very great thing for the birds, the bees, and your overall health if gone about carefully. So think twice, and happy eating!