Updated: Feb 11, 2021
Plant based seems to be a term that is being thrown around a lot lately. It has gained popularity in the media and in marketing campaigns for many fast food restaurants giving the impression these new burgers and pies are made from plants, but what are they really made of? Well I'll tell you now it's far from plants!
People often associate the word "Vegan" or "Plant based" with healthy food but that is not the case at all. Oreo's are vegan and the new vegan burger at one of Australia's fast food restaurants is marketed as "Plant Based"...neither of these products are healthy by any means but just because of the clever marketing department we are lead to believe they are. Lets go through the ingredients list on the popular new 'Beyond Meat' patties and have a dive into what is really going into your body.
Whenever you are reading an ingredients list the first ingredient is always what the product contains the most of and it goes in descending order from there so in this case the product contains mostly water, then pea protein isolate etc. This is a positive for the Beyond Meat patties as some products the first ingredient is sugar and that is never a good thing. Pea protein isolate is simply the protein derived from peas, a popular choice for a vegan protein powder and again another positive of these patties; however we kind of go on a downhill slope after that. Canola oil and REFINED coconut oil...both unhealthy, heavily refined and processed sources of saturated fats which is a big reason why animal based products are not great for our health so replacing animal fats with unhealthy saturated fats isn't really helping anybody. I know coconut oil has a big name in the health food industry but it is still made up of 90% saturated fat and not the best thing to be adding to all your meals. I typically try to stay away from oils as much as I can due to their processed state however if oil is needed I opt for either Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Avocado oil or Hemp oil. These are nutrient dense, lower levels of saturated fat and also higher smoke points compared to some of the other options. I'll be doing a more in depth post on oils another time but for now lets continue.
We have some more proteins in there which again aren't a negative but they are then followed by things such as Methycellulose which is a thickener/binder with laxative effects, more highly saturated fatty oils, synthetic vitamins which cannot be effectively absorbed by our bodies, Maltodextrin which is a polysaccharide or in other words a long chain of sugars that are a high GI product which runs closely with high fructose corn syrup aka the stuff that spikes your blood sugar levels and gives your kids a sugar high (also not recommended for diabetics). After this we have Absorbic Acid which is a genetically modified, fermented corn syrup otherwise known as synthetic Vitamin C. To extract the absorbic acid, this concoction is often treated with solvents such as acetone aka nail polish remover. So as you can see the majority of these ingredients are not plant based nor are they beneficial to our health. Yes they are definitely vegan but again, don't associate the term vegan with healthy choices. All these synthetic ingredients
The term Plant Based refers to someone who predominantly eats plants. Some plant based eaters do in fact include small amounts of animal products and processed foods however someone on a wholefood plant based diet does not. They steer clear of processed foods such as packaged foods and oils and do not consume any animal products whatsoever. My family and I consume mostly a wholefoods plant based diet. We eat an array of fruits, vegetables, beans, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds and do eat small amounts of processed foods such as gluten free pasta, corn chips, rice crackers etc. On occasion we consume small amounts of oils however we stay away from preservatives, refined sugars and any artificial ingredients. I made the choice to only put natural ingredients in and on my body because of how it makes me feel. Your organs regenerate themselves from the foods you eat and the products that enter your body whether that be through oral consumption or topical application/contact. My body feels alive and thrives off this lifestyle which in turn helps keep my immune system functioning at a high level, gives me loads of energy to chase after 2 very active boys and keep fit and assists my body in waste elimination from environmental factors that can't be helped.
A wholefood plant based lifestyle is not restrictive at all if you have an open mind and can see the abundance of food and nutrients available to you so you can not only survive, but you can thrive! If you do consume animal products and are wanting to make a shift my advice is to gradually swap out products and eliminate them over time. Going cold turkey will leave you feeling like you are missing out or lacking in
energy when in fact it takes a while for your taste buds to change, your body to detox and also adjust. You will no longer crave that full dairy ice cream and chocolate bar or big slab of steak. Your body naturally starts to crave the good things and that is when intuitive eating begins, giving your body what it truly needs.
Stay tuned for more posts on how to transition, benefits of this lifestyle and simple recipes to assist you on your journey.
Love and light,