Putting the "Veg" Back in Vegetarian

Putting the “Veg” Back in Vegetarian

Just Because its Vegan Doesn’t Mean its Good for You!

When I began to phase out a majority of animal products from my diet many years ago, veg-versions of foods I was familiar with made the transition easier. But over the years as I have continued to grow in my awareness of healthy eating and proper food combining and subsequently moved away from most packaged and processed vegan and vegetarian foods. I used to buy boxed soy milk and rice milk and now I make my own from hemp, flax, sometimes cashews or coconut. It’s great to be able to make it straight from the whole ingredients and not consume any added thickeners, preservatives or emulsifiers ~ many of which have GMO ingredients or stomach irritants such as carageanan. While the convenience and familiarity of eating some mock meats, veggie cheese shreds or boxed milk can be a helpful stepping stone, in the long run its not good to rely on these foods as a diet staple.

Case in point, this frozen veggie sausage has over 20 ingredients!  Here’s a long list from a popular brand that unfortunately has several GMO ingredients…

I’ve also seen many products that are vegan versions of classic treats such as Ding Dongs, cookies, brownies and pies that are loaded with cane sugar, white flour, xanthum gum, GMO canola and other less than healthful ingredients. 

In the years of teaching classes and talking with many vegans and vegetarians I’ve witnessed the common pitfall where many plant-eating folks become “carbetarians” and rely heavily on bread, pasta and grain to feel full and satiated. Over time this can create insulin resistance and “feeling spacey” when the sugar from all the carbs hits your blood stream and causes spikes and crashes in blood sugar. This can also create a sleepy lethargic feeling that may cause some of us to reach for caffeine to get though the day. The best way to overcome this is to put the veg back in vegetarian and the superfoods back into a healthy diet. Eating a variety of seasonal veggies, legumes (beans, lentils), nuts, seeds and some ancient grains such as amaranth, quinoa, millet, kamut, brown rice (white rice and white potatoes should be eaten in moderation depending on your dietary needs/limitations).

Mung beans or mung dal (split mung beans) are incredibly high in protein and iron and are easier to digest then skin-on beans such as black or pinto. Eating legumes are essential to a heathy vegetarian and vegan diet. Ways to improve digestion if you suffer from gas or bloating from eating beans is to add some cumin, fennel, coriander or ginger to your meal or afterwards in the form of a tea. You can also add a pinch of cumin to some warm coconut or hemp milk for an after dinner belly soother.

Eating superfoods such as cacao, goji, maca, matcha, reishi mushroom and hemp foods (seeds, protein powder) are all full of wonderful antioxidants, proteins, nutrients, vitamins and minerals that can power you up and help provide all the things your body needs to thrive. Compassionate Eating also means listening to your body. If you feel like you need a little animal protein once in a while then by all means you should do so. If you care enough about the planet and animal welfare then you will most likely choose local organic farm eggs for example, or locally caught fish etc.

Yes it takes time and some planning to make wholesome meals from scratch but the pay off is huge-literally. Buying whole food items bulk saves money and reduces packaging waste. Eating foods directly from the earth and not from a lab or factory will limit the amount of harmful cancer causing chemicals, additives and other ingredients your body was never meant to indigest. It may take some extra effort, but your health and the health of the planet and if you are a parent ~ your children are well worth it. Want to be a super conscious eco-friend? You can even kick it up a notch and bring a reusable draw string cloth bag to refill from the bulk bin. Thats about as compassionate a shopper and consumer you can be! Awareness is powerful when it goes into conscious action. Don’t ever underestimate your ability to make a difference.

Here is a my alternative homemade veggie sausage recipe for you to enjoy!

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