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When Vegan Isn't Natural



As I have mentioned before, we live in a mixed-diet household with my husband being a pretty firm omnivore (for now). I've been adding more and more vegan ingredients and recipes to our lives and we basically manage to get by with only a bit of occasional conflict. Sort of. Sometimes.

Oddly enough, our main point of contention isn't the rather obvious meat or dairy versus a plant-based alternative, it's more about whole food versus processed food. And I have to admit, I'm getting a little stuck at times trying to maintain my side of the argument.

In our specific case, my hubbie is more interested in eating healthier than dealing with animal welfare so I work with that as best I can so that we make vegan choices that are agreeable to both of us. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work out well.

Let's use butter for an example. Real butter has cream/milk and maybe salt in it. And besides the issue of whether it is natural for us to be consuming cow's milk to begin with, you have to admit that it is a more natural product in terms of how it is processed and what it contains. Basically one ingredient, and that's it.

Now let's look at my beloved vegan margarine that I am insisting as a substitute in our home. We use Becel. The ingredients are listed thusly:

canola and sunflower oils, water, modified palm and palm kernel oils, salt, natural flavours. lactic acid, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D2, natural colour, soy lecithin, calcium disodium edta

Becel does make a lovely vegan margarine that works as a butter spread substitute

Yikes. 

I know that many of these ingredients are fairly natural but at first glance, it can be difficult to convince someone that the second product is "better", especially given the heavy use of palm oil. A comparison between meat and any standard meat substitute product is just as bad. And my favorite smokey soy cheese? Don't even go there.

And so the debates rage on about my weird unnatural vegan food. Unfortunately, he is mostly correct if you are honest about it. The various substitute products I have been relying on as I made the switch to veganism over the years aren't really the best food choices. Many are highly processed and more artificial than I have wanted to admit.

Yes, my choices are better for animal welfare but are they the best ones for my body and for the planet? Now I have to start thinking a little more broadly, thanks to my picky omni husband. And this has led us to our current trend of whole food eating. Not completely, as there is no way I'm giving up my Sol burgers. But overall, we're adding more protein and calcium through lentils, beans, nuts and greens rather than relying on processed products.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not bashing meat and dairy substitute products at all. I think they are a wonderful part of a vegan diet and can be a crucial stepping-stone for people trying to let go of old food habits. They can also be a fantastic treat when you are craving "junk" food. Just remember that there is more to being vegan than just swapping all your usual meat or dairy foods with processed alternatives. Look to whole fruits, vegetables, herbs, grains, beans and nuts for super healthy and super delicious meals.

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