How to be a Healthy Vegan
Veganism does not automatically equate to better to health.
If, for example, your typical breakfast is some sugar-laden pseudo-breakfast cereal with Chocolate flavoured 'soy milky', a jam sandwich on white bread with a bag of salted crisps for lunch and a tin of spaghetti for dinner (followed by a packet or Oreos washed down with diet cola) you will find yourself on a fast track to feeling sick and tired all the time - and frankly, pretty darn constipated.
A non-vegan eating like this will, of course, also soon get sick. Many documentaries currently feature on Netflix, on the epidemic of lifestyle-induced diseases. These diseases currently keep many a doctor's office and hospital bed full. And so the following advice applies to all humans, regardless of age, culture and food preferences.
The thing is, with us humans, that the more 'advanced' our society, the more removed we are from traditional ways of living and eating. There was a time that we did as our parents did, and they did what there parents did and over time this became a food and eating culture. Now, all to often, we eat what big business indoctrinates us to eat through careful but misleading advertising.
The challenge now is to go back a few generations, skip all the processed, plastic wrapped food products with ingredient lists a mile long and return to roots: real food. Feel free, society being as it is, to borrow from the pantries of grannies the world over - not just your own. If you have Irish roots, experiment with traditional Irish wheaten bread, make an irish stew (veganised, naturally) from scratch and eat potatoes until they are coming out of your ears (Using the traditional methods of boiling or baking of course). Try the same with international foods - a coconut-milk based curry, wok tossed fresh vegetables, homemade pasta sauce... you get the idea. This is a jolly good starting point. Allow me to quote Michael Pollan, and say if your grandmother (or great-grandmother) wouldn't recognise it as food, don't eat it.
Traditional foods are a solid starting point. But let's delve in to this a little further. Let us eat traditional foods in their most natural forms. And so choose wholemeal pasta over white pasta and brown rice over white rice. Start to think about food products as a continuum.
I shall use wheat flour as an example. Wheat is a grain. It can be eaten as a grain, like rice, after boiling to soft. The whole wheat grain can be chopped, or 'kibbled' to make bulgar wheat as used in Tabbouleh. More commonly wheat is ground into flour. So far in our wheat continuum we have a variety of wholesome real food options. This is assuming the flour is whole wheat flour. Flour is a staple in countless food products. A whole food wheat product is a whole meal sourdough loaf of bread. A commercially produced white bread product is further down the continuum - first because white bread is whole wheat minus most of the fibre, vitamins and minerals, and secondly because this commercially produced bread has a list of added ingredients to enhance shelf life and palatability, and certainly not to enhance your health.
For optimal nutrition think like this about all foods you eat. Rather than the sugary cereal for breakfast go back the the building blocks of this food - oats and fruit. Here good options would be porridge and fresh fruit, or home-made muesli.
While whole foods have been the food of humans for thousands of years, lab-produced food products are a new phenomenon. The move away from real food in the last generation or two corresponds with the rise in obesity, heart problems, diabetes and many other lifestyle-induced killers. Groups argue that it is the fat, or the sugar, or too much meat or not enough meat.... Solid research backs up that a high intake of fruit and vegetables coupled with minimal animal products equates to enormous health benefits on all fronts. Upping intake of fresh plant foods by default pushes out the 'junk' food and this is a really good starting point!
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