Don’t get me wrong I wholeheartedly believe that a whole food plant-based diet is a sure-fire way to improve your health and vitality.
I follow a plant-based diet myself and I always advocate eating more plants and plant-based meals but, and this is a big BUT, not all plant-based foods are created equal.
I’ve been reflecting on the whole Veganuary thing over the last few days. 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 the supermarket shelves it must feel like there’s never been a better time to switch to plant-based eating. 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.
Don’t fall into the Frankenfood trap
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 a burger, sausage or cheese they’re far from natural.
They are artificially created in a lab from various components just like Frankenstein himself.
And have you even looked at how many ingredients are in most plant-based burgers or milk alternatives?
Your glorious health promoting fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains are being turned into Frankenfoods. These food-like products 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.
But it came from a pea
Take your average pea protein burger. If you study the ingredients list you may see ‘pea protein’ or ‘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 when it isn’t packaged inside a whole pea.
It’s not something that’s found in this state in nature. If we were meant to eat pea protein you’d find plants growing exactly that, just pea protein and nothing else.
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’. You can then 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 the whole plant, in nature. This means your body may not recognise what you are eating as food.
If your body can’t recognise the foods you eat as natural, nutritional foods this may trigger an immune response. You might not notice any symptoms or side effects if you indulge in the occasional vegan burger. On the other hand, if you’re eating meat or cheese substitutes in most meals you could be unwittingly overloading on substances that are causing immune and inflammatory responses in your body.
Whole food, 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 even if you chop, blend or grate 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. Then you’ll always have a wholesome ready-meal in the freezer when you need it. Having meals ready to reheat means 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.
Need help to know what the heck to eat?
Join my free, Eat To Thrive In Five event which starts on Monday 25th January.