Vegan verses Whole Plant Based Eating
- Oct 16, 2018
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How is Vegan different from eating a Whole food plant based diet? Can I be Vegan but still wear leather? Is processed Vegan food still healthy? What is healthier – Vegan or WFPB?
Lets break it down….
What is Veganism? Or being a Vegan?
Veganism is a philosophy of living that rejects the commodity status of animals. Vegans abstain from consuming animal products, particularly in diet but also in lifestyle product choices. There are various categories of veganism such as “Nutritional Vegans” who refrain from eating all forms of animal products (not only meat but also dairy, eggs and other animal derived products. “Ethical Vegans” are often used to describe people who follow the vegan diet but also refrain from wearing or using products made from animals such as leather and wool. The term “Environmental Veganism” refers to a person who follows the vegan philosophy from a perspective of industrial farming methods that is environmentally damaging and unsustainable.
So isn’t that the same thing as a Whole-Food Plant Based diet?
No, a wholefood, plant based diet is not necessarily based on an animal rights or environmental based philosophy of living – unless of course the person wants to – but centres more on consuming whole, unrefined or minimally refined plants. It is a way of eating based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. It excludes or minimises meat, dairy, eggs as well as highly refined bleached flour, sugar and oil. A wholefood, plant based diets is just that, Wholefoods mostly from plants.
All foods have countless nutrients and not just one single nutrient. We should never think of eating one specific food for one specific nutrient. We should look at the foods overall nutrient profile and density – the whole package.
Whole, plant based foods contain all the essential nutrients (with the exception of vitamin B12) and in amounts that are more in line with human needs than animal-based or processed foods. As long as we choose a variety of whole, plant based foods, we will easily meet our nutritional needs.
So what…. Can I be vegan and still wear leather?
The general consensus is that you can be a nutritional vegan and still wear leather but the beliefs of ethical vegans is that no – you are not a vegan if you were leather, you are a strict vegetarian.
Unless, of course the leather is second hand or vintage and then there are some ethical vegans who believe that this falls within the philosophy however, there are others who believe that this sends a murky message out there that we cannot survive without animal products and choose other products.
So what is classified as processed food?
Now, how far do we go with defining the processing of foods when looking at a whole food plant based way of eating? Obviously, there are some elements of processing in all foods. For example, fruit is cut from trees or plucked from bushes, butter is cream that has been separated from milk and even minced meat has to be ground in a machine. But there is a difference between mechanical processing and chemical processing. If it’s a single ingredient food with no added chemicals then it doesn’t matter that is has been packaged up as it is still real food. However, if the food has been chemically processed and made from refined ingredients and artificial substances then this is not real food and how we define processed food.
What is wrong with processed food?
Processed food and drinks are filled with sugar, salt, over processed oils and a myriad of artificial ingredients and chemicals. These can have adverse effects on metabolism and health.
Food manufacturing companies spend a lot of money to make their food trigger rewarding chemicals in the brain which leads to over consuming. Highly processed foods are loaded with artificial chemicals including flavours and texturants, colours and preservatives. Processed food can, for many people, hijack the biochemistry of the brain which triggers cravings, over consumption and food addictions.
Wholefoods have a higher density of nutrients than processed food which leaves the body more satisfied. Refined processed foods often ensure that you eat more because the density of nutrients is far less. Soluble fibre is also lost or purposefully removed during processing which is valuable to overall health and eating less because it fills you up faster than less fibrous food.
Because of the lack of fibre and the highly processed nature of these foods the digestive system doesn’t need to work as hard and therefore only burns half as many calories to metabolise of processed food which in turn compounds potential health problems.
Cheaper and refined seed and vegetable oils are often hydrogenated which turns them into trans fats which are a huge (no pun intended) factor in metabolic health concerns.
But what about Protein?
Often people exclaim that there is nothing to eat on a plant based diet and that it lacks nutrients and especially lacks protein and calcium.
Protein is “a very important nutrient, but almost everyone over consumes it and gets it from animal-based foods, so they end up decreasing their consumption of plant-based foods,"
With a whole food plant based diet there is actually an abundance of ways to meet your protein needs to eat a well-rounded nutritional diet. Foods such as beans, lentils, chia seeds, quinoa and even spinach and mushrooms are packed with protein.
Calcium sources come from eating kale, broccoli, carrots and cauliflower.
So in the end, what is healthier? Vegan, Vegetarian or Whole food plant based?
The truth is, regardless of whatever food ‘protocol’ you choose, you can be an unhealthy vegan or vegetarian. Even as unhealthy as someone who consumes animal products if you are choosing highly processed foods.
The healthiest option is to eat a WHOLE food diet that is yes – mostly plant foods. If you feel that you need to eat animal products then you would still benefit from eating this way some of the time. If you are Vegan for ethical or nutritional reasons you would absolutely benefit from eating more whole foods and less from a box.
Ultimate in ethics and wellness would be a Whole food Vegan J Just to throw another label into the mix J