When you picture a typical vegan diet, you probably think salads and green smoothies. Vegan diets are thought of as being healthy as they promote the consumption of a diverse variety of fruits and veggies.
Therefore, choosing vegan snacks as a healthier option than the regular alternatives is the way forward, right?
Unfortunately, (and to the dismay of many), this is not the case! Many commonly eaten junk foods such as French fries, biscuits, crisps and even some sweets are vegan. Yes Oreos, we are talking to you!
As a reminder for those who may not be familiar, a vegan diet omits all animal products, including eggs and dairy. A growing number of people are now following a vegan, or primarily plant based lifestyle, be it for environmental, ethical or perhaps religious reasons. A report by The Vegan Society branded it one of the fastest-growing lifestyle movements in the UK.
It is becoming increasingly common for non-vegans, to dabble with things like meat-free Monday as well as altering some of their meal and snack selections to incorporate vegan or plant-based alternatives. The alternatives are now readily available and there are even retailers, cafes and restaurants catering exclusively for vegans.
When it comes to snacking, there are several reasons why vegan doesn’t necessarily mean healthy and I’ve rounded up the main points you should consider before reaching for your mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack.
Firstly, eggs and dairy are commonly used in desserts and snacks. They give a rich, thick consistency. Vegan snacks have these ingredients replaced with artificial alternatives. Manufacturers tend to add in things like emulsifiers and stabilisers to give the snacks a similar texture and mouth-feel. The resultant food items are likely to be heavily processed foods which may have little nutritional value.
Secondly, be wary of some snacks as they may be laden with refined sugar. Refined sugar comes from sugar canes or beet which are processed to extract sugar. Chemical processes are used to remove impurities and coloured compounds. It is typically found as sucrose. During the refinement process, sugar is stripped of its nutritional components, therefore, refined sugar is essentially ‘empty’ calories as it provides no nutritional benefits.
Your brain will also react to the sudden influx of sugar by producing serotonin, which acts as a sleep- regulating hormone. An afternoon slump is far from ideal when you’re in the middle of a working day!
If you’re looking for a vegan sweet treat, look carefully at the food label and assess the ingredients. As is often the way, the fewer ingredients the better! Try to choose snacks with a couple of whole-food ingredients, as opposed to a long list of unpronounceable components. Being careful with your selection will be more beneficial all round.
As with non-vegan treats, they can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a healthy, balanced diet, if you make mindful, nutritious choices.
I may be bias, but we have a number of delicious ones on our menu, which can be incorporated into your daily macros. The vegan millionaire shortbread is a firm favourite here at FFF HQ! Search it on our blog!