When you made the commitment to become vegan you demonstrated a strong interest in controlling how you nourish your body and what you put in it.
Vegan processed foods have all the same problems as non vegan alternatives and in some cases they are even worse!
I’m not suggesting that as a plant based athlete you should completely eliminate processed food from your diet, and there are some things which we can’t imagine living without.
Lewis Hamilton famously struggled to give up Nutella (Until he found out what was in it)!
Just be aware that consuming processed food not only costs more money but gives control back to big business and the food industry. These organizations may not have your best interests at heart as their responsibility is to their shareholders.
You are paying for a lot more than the food
When you buy processed foods the ingredient costs are a fraction of the price you pay. The main costs are product development, packaging, distribution, supply chain profits and the biggest cost of all: MARKETING.
I remember a top London Chef explain that the reason fine dining restaurants use so much offal is that it’s cheap! It’s nothing to do with customer demand which was encouraged by hype (Offal being the new big thing).
The main costs of a restaurant meal are rent, rates, marketing and staff!
Five more reasons to limit your consumption of processed foods
- Saturated fat levels in vegan meat substitutes can be similar or higher than in real meat.
- Vegan processed foods often use GMO ingredients.
- Vegan processed foods are sometimes tested on animals.
- Most Processed foods contain Soy which should be limited in a healthy diet.
- Most Processed foods contain flours, starches, oil, sugar and salt.
What to look out for when buying processed vegan foods
Most processed foods are packed with artificial ingredients, preservatives, processed oils and nutritionally empty ingredients. Some veggie burgers even contain more calories than beef patties with far less protein.
Foods listing beans or legumes rather than soy protein isolate or wheat gluten, as the first ingredient are better as you are getting more whole foods in the end product.
Many vegan alternatives can be worse for you than their butter-and-egg-containing counterparts. That’s because to replace those ingredients food manufacturers add in starches, gums and pectins.
Many vegan deserts contain more simple carbohydrates and calories than non-vegan desserts. If you’re shopping for a vegan sweet treat, always read the ingredients list and keep an eye out for forms of sugar (if it ends in “-ose,” it’s probably sugar), oils, refined grains and synthetic ingredients.
A single serving of coconut yogurt can contain about 60 percent of your recommended daily saturated fat intake for just one gram of protein.
Many people think that the saturated fat in coconut is very healthy, but it’s still saturated fat, so it would be wise not to overdo it.
More salt than seawater
Some meat-free bacon, sausages and burgers have been found to contain “more salt than seawater” by campaigning group Action on Salt, always check for sodium.
Soy isn’t great for your health so try not to eat too much
Soy has some health benefits but has come in for a lot of criticism recently for its contribution to deforestation and the fact that so much soy is GM.
Soy eaten in moderation may be OK but the problem is that soy is used in so many processed vegan foods that you can easily end up eating it in every meal.
Here’s 11 reasons you may want to limit your consumption of soy
- Soybeans contain large quantities of natural toxins called antinutrients. They include potent enzyme inhibitors that block the action of trypsin and other enzymes needed for protein digestion.
- Test animals fed these inhibitors developed enlargement and pathological conditions of the pancreas, including cancer.
- Soybeans contain haemagglutinin, a clot-promoting substance that causes red blood cells to clump together.
- 99% of soy is genetically modified (GM) and contains more pesticide contamination than almost any other food.
- Soybeans are high in phytic acid which blocks the uptake of the essential minerals calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and especially zinc.
- Soy products contain high levels of aluminum from the containers in which they are acid washed and processed.
- Nitrites are formed during the spray-drying of soy. Nitrates are known carcinogens.
- Soy Protein Isolates are shown to enlarge the pancreas and thyroid and increase fatty acid deposits in the liver.
- Soy contains toxic isoflavones.
- Soy foods have a high concentration of goitrogens which block production of thyroid hormones.
- Soy is one of the top 4 causes of deforestation in the world, although only 6% of total production is for vegans
Chips Are VERY Popular!
Processed chips made from a combination of flours, starches, oil, sugar and salt are cheap to make and taste good.
Energy and Protein Bars, I make my Own!
What’s holding that granola together? It’s usually, sugars, refined oils, artificial colors, flavors and preservatives. All wrapped in expensive premium packaging.
No wonder it tastes so good and looks so delicious. So do home made and they are REALLY easy to make and ery healthy
Seitan and celiac disease or gluten sensitivity
Seitan is a very popular ingredient in processed vegan foods. If you suffer from celiac disease or gluten sensitivity you will want to avoid seitan.
Seitan is an ancient Asian food made from the gluten protein in wheat, It’s basically wheat with the other components washed away, leaving only the protein component.
If you have celiac disease, eating seitan can contribute to damage in your small intestine that affects your body’s ability to absorb nutrients.
Eat Everything in Moderation
Processed foods have their place, but going vegan is a big commitment and in my opinion it’s worth going “all in” as the benefits are huge, especially for athletes.
Save the processed food isle for the “Can’t Live Without” treats.