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One word, a million connotations.
Even the dictionary is a bit reticent to give it a simple description. I’d write it out here but it’s a waste of words. If you’re interested, here’s a linky.
The general consensus is that being healthy is a Good Thing. We’ll ignore that weird thing some people do when they use the world healthy as a synonym for fat. That’s not what we mean. Although you can, of course, be healthy and fat.
So is a vegan diet healthy by it’s broadest definition? Can a human thrive on a vegan diet? Can they run and jump and climb trees and live until they’re a hundred without risk of malnutrition?
And the simple answer is yas, yas they can.
In fact, many doctors believe (check out Michael Greger, he’s v knowledgeable) that a whole food, plant-based diet is the best way to live your healthiest life, that being a life spent full of energy and free from disease.
But obviously, it’s not that easy.
Yes, veganism is healthy
If you eat abundantly from a wide variety of fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and grains your body will be healthy. Unless you have some terrible disease or get hit by a bus.
If you’re serious about getting suuuuper healthy, follow Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen. Hell, read his book. It’s INCREDIBLE.
I’ve since been informed by registered dieticians that some of the info in there (especially regarding the studies he cites) is a bit cherry-picked, but it’s a great book for encouraging you to eat more broccoli.
If you follow a plant-based, whole foods diet, you’ll probably be very healthy. Keep an eye on your vitamin intake (if you’re concerned about getting enough iron/calcium/B12 then read this post) and you’ll be fine.
BTW, if iron and calcium are concerns of yours, a massive bowl of Weetabix with lots of plant milk every day will have you more than covered on both counts.
No, veganism is not healthy
I categorically do not follow the Daily Dozen checklist. I’m not unhealthy per se, but I like a
bottle glass of wine of an evening. I also love biscuits, Tesco’s Rocky Road and much fake ham as I can shove down my gullet. It’s all about balance.
But you can easily survive as a vegan and not touch any fruit or veg. You’ll probably only poo once a fortnight but hey ho.
In the UK you can get a vegan burger from McDonald’s (ask for a veggie burger with no mayo) and there’s enough fake cheese and meat to sustain your decaying body for a significant number of years. There’re vegan pizzas available from Teco and I think 2019 will be the Year of the Vegan Ready Meal.
Much, if any, nutritional value? Nah, mate.
In fact, as veganism becomes more mainstream, it becomes easier and easier (and tastier) to become a junk food vegan. And harder and harder to eat that damn broccoli, unless it’s in the form of a vegan mac n cheese n broccoli ready meal from M&S.
And here’s another thing. Some people’s mental health does not allow them to achieve balance. Veganism can be used to cover an eating disorder or other obsessional/control issues. If you think this could be something that affects you, concentrate on healing. Veganism will wait.
Don’t let veganism take over your life if it will consume it.
You see, healthy doesn’t mean just a healthy body; it means a healthy mind too. The alcohol content of a glass of wine will not do your blood pressure any good, but the calming, de-stressing nature of that Friday night glass of prosecco may be precisely what your body (and mind) needs.
It is, as it always fucking is, about balance.
A few other things to consider…
Some people live in food deserts and have little option other than to be an unhealthy vegan or a healthy omnivore. There are a few devoted vegans out there that are willing to live on rice and beans. Could I do that? Honestly? I don’t know.
I’ll let you know after Brexit when the only fresh fruit we can get is apples. If we still have electricity, of course.
Whilst I believe that whole food plant-based diet is the healthiest one available to me, I don’t follow one. Because I’m vegan for ethical reasons and I love eating fried food on occasion. Oh, and bread, in vast quantities.
So if you’re someone (or knows someone) that isn’t going vegan because you don’t believe it’s healthy, take a look at your current diet. Is it the healthiest it can be? Probably not.
Vegans, especially when they first go vegan, tend to think more about the food that they eat rather than just eating the same meals they always have. They will consciously incorporate healthy fats, iron, and calcium-rich foods and a lot of vegetables because they’ve been made aware of what a healthy meal looks like.
In conclusion, a vegan diet offers up the chance for you to be the healthiest person in the whole damn world.
All shiny hair, glowing skin and abs for dayz.
But it also offers up the option of fake sausages, Oreos and chips for dayz, complete with spots and a flabby gut.
Ok, I’m bored of talking about healthy, let’s talk about my delicious breakfast this morning.
I like to have porridge for breakfast because it’s a great way to add in lots of micronutrients via seeds. HOWEVER, I find that adding chia and flax seeds to my oats makes it a bit weird in texture.
Today I made the porridge separately from the seeds.
I put half a cup of oats, a cup of almond milk and a chopped banana in a pan and left it on medium heat for ten minutes.
In a separate pan (fill up your washing up bowl now and wash up whilst your porridge is mouth-meltingly hot) I put a cup or so of blueberries and cherries and a teaspoon-ish of maple syrup and a splash of water and put that on a medium heat too.
Stir ’em both a bit.
After ten minutes I added a generous dessert spoon of almond butter to the oats (it was probs closer to 2 spoons) and about a teaspoon of cinnamon. Add in more milk if it’s too goopy.
Then I added a dessert spoon of chia seeds to the fruit and let both pans cook for another ten or so minutes, stirring, stirring, stirring.
I added a teaspoon or so of ground flax to the fruit and a bit more maple syrup, grated an apple into the oats and put the oats in a bowl, topped with the fruit.
IT WAS LUSH.
Worth washing up two pans for sure.
Hope you enjoyed today’s post, comment below if you have anything to say.
P.S. I realise that I could have added the flax seeds with the chia seeds, but I once heard somewhere* that flax seeds are a bit unstable and can potentially spontaneously combust. I’d google it, but I don’t want to be frightened of a foodstuff that’s so damn good for you.
*It was on the back of a bottle of linseed oil I was using to oil some chairs when I was at work aged about 15. A little further research has indicated that the spontaneous combustion phenomenon is limited to linseed oil exclusively, but I’m not taking any risks.
If you are a vegan then you have the potential to have a very healthy diet indeed. If you stick to homemade soups and smoothies, whole grains, loads of fruits, veg, and beans then you’ll probably live forever.
But it’s just as easy to be a junk food vegan, and get barely any adequate nutrition (although unless you’re severely restricting your calories you’ll most likely be fine – humans are quite adaptable, it would seem). You could easy subsist on chips and veggie sausages. I know I do.
What I’m trying to say is that health and veganism are not synonymous, but one can definitely reach their optimal health by following a vegan diet.
It’s worth mentioning that diet is not the be all and end all of health.
Be sure to:
- Stay out of the sun/wear sunscreen
- Don’t smoke – it can inhibit the absorption of some nutrients (and it’s gross)
- Get. Enough. Sleep.
- Drink. Plenty. Water.
- Eat. Cake. Sometimes.
- Spend time with friends – IRL, online, imaginary
I hope this cleared a few things up, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t.