When people think about a vegan diet they often conjure up images of wholesome plant-based foods like fruit, vegetables, beans, seeds, and grains. However, as the lifestyle choice gains popularity, supermarkets are reacting by stocking fridges and freezers with convenience foods aimed at vegans. This could be seen as a breakthrough as the choice becomes more mainstream, but Simon Bandy, General Manager of Veganicity, warns that some of these processed provisions could actually turn people into junk food vegans.
No matter what diet you follow, everyone should consider eating whole and unprocessed foods. For vegans who don’t want to, or don’t have the time to cook from scratch, Simon explains some of the issues they should be aware of:
• Check sodium levels. Processed foods are often packed with excess salt as it acts as a preservative. Too much salt can lead to high blood pressure, which is associated with heart attacks. A high intake can also cause water retention resulting in puffiness and bloating. It is recommended that adults should consume no more than 6g (one teaspoon) of salt a day at most
• Sugar intake. Advice is that added sugars should not make up more than five percent of our daily diet. This is from both food and drink. Too much sugar can lead to weight gain and tooth decay. On packaging, opt for foods that have 5g of total sugars (or less) per 100g
• Fat levels. Fat is important for everyone, as it helps the body absorb vitamins A, D and E. Cutting down on saturated fats like coconut oil (which can contain up to 90% saturated fat) is the importance as it can raise cholesterol levels in the blood. Men should have no more than 30g of saturated fat a day, and only 20g for women. Aim for good fats like sunflower oil as it also contains Omega-6 which can help lower cholesterol. The best option is to choose labelling which states the dish is low fat or fat-free.
Simon comments: “Obviously there are times where we treat ourselves and indulge in our favourite fast food. When doing this, try to have that food as a small portion and boost the plate with a good selection of fresh vegetables and whole grains.
“A balanced diet is always the best option, but if vegans feel their diet is lacking in vitamins or minerals they can opt to boost the body with supplements. Our diverse range is 100% vegan, animal-friendly and registered with the Vegan Society, so it’s one less thing to think about.”