The Importance of Knowing Your Food: Why Veganism Doesn’t Automatically Equate to Good Health

In the last year there has been a bit of a surge of celebrities talking about how they went vegan and ended up underweight or passing out after too much shopping on a hot LA day. A full read of these articles beyond the sensationalist headline (EVA LONGORIA’S ONLY REGRET: VEGAN DIET) will reveal that these actresses pretty much thought they could live on salad alone (Eva Longoria) or on raw fruits and vegetables (Megan Fox) while, I assume, working long hours and doing mad amounts of exercise.

Now, what’s happened here is that these articles have touched upon a real issue (that these actresses were eating unhealthily) but attributed it to the wrong reason (veganism). The real issue here it that there is a horrible lack of education and mass of misinformation about eating healthy and how to do it.

Let’s skip over the annoying truth that these stories get more news time than when celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, Russell Brand, Kristen Bell and many more go vegan and eat properly to get to the bottom line here: if a carnivore tried to live on lettuce leaves or apple slices alone, he or she would not be healthy. The same is true for vegans.

A healthy diet, no matter what you do or don’t eat, thrives on diversity and knowledge. These two things exist in a symbiotic relationship; knowledge of what foods contain which “good things” then leads to a diversity in your diet, enabling you to get all these “good things” inside you.

This is true of all diets – vegan, carnivore, pescetarian, flexitarian, or raw foodist. The problem, as we read in the papers, is that some people don’t have any real knowledge about what they’re eating and what’s good for them.

Just to provide balance, here, I should mention that carnivores, vegetarians and many others are often horribly guilty of this, despite some of them making certain comments about diets different to their own. People often question me on what I eat or where I get my iron, protein, omega 3s and fats from. While the first question prompted me to start my website, detailing what vegans eat and how to make it, the second often prompts me to turn the question back on the questioner: where do YOU get YOUR iron, protein, omega 3s and fats from?

DSC_1012-300x199However, those of us who have committed to a plant-based food regime are often also very guilty of allowing ourselves to be undereducated on the subject of a healthy diet. This, I think, is because many assume that eschewing meat and dairy products automatically makes you healthy. Let’s be clear about this: it does not.

Eva and Megan are two prime examples, but I’ve heard of many more; “My daughter went vegan and became anaemic”; “my Dad went vegan and he fainted playing pool”. I know of vegans that only eat processed, crappy food and the occasional tomato, al the while thinking they’re living a more healthy lifestyle. This kind of eating is no more healthy than scoffing down McDonald’s burgers and washing it all down with Diet Coke.

What makes a vegan diet healthy is not only cutting out meat, dairy, eggs and other animal-derived products, but replacing these with a wide range of delicious, nutrient-dense, diverse foods that, instead of damaging the body, actually help it. What makes a vegan diet even healthier is learning about which foods bring which nutrients and other goodies to your body and understanding how they do what they do. What makes a vegan diet the healthiest it can be is eating a diverse range of these good quality, awesome foods and listening to your body when you eat them. Diversity feeds knowledge feeds diversity; it’s that symbiosis all over again.

If you have taken steps towards veganism or have even adopted a 100% plant based diet,, then I applaud you and wholeheartedly welcome you to “the club”.  However, you must remember that veganism doesn’t guarantee a healthy body on its own; it needs your help! You need to be informed, inventive and have a varied diet, just like your healthy carnivore counterparts. This isnt difficult; there are a whole host of foods out there, and as you explore the different types of grains, beans, legumes, pastas, vegetables, fruits, pulses and much more, you’ll be sure to find your own groove and discover a whole plethora of foods that work for you.

And just in case that sounds too scary, we at Panama Wellness Group are here to help you. Check out more of the articles on this site, from the wonderful David Bloomfield and Hillary Sepulveda as well as many others, and truly educate yourself. You’ll be healthier and happier than you ever have been before.

Heather

 

@2014 Hillary Sapulveda

kt 09/14

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