We’ve all heard the words ‘vegan,’ ‘whole foods,’ ‘organic’ and ‘locally/naturally grown’ thrown around a lot lately. Not only that, we have also seen a significant shift in the grocery landscape with many people preferring to buy foods that are naturally or organically grown more so over processed foods. But why exactly is this so popular nowadays? We decided to take a closer look to understand what is driving people to embrace these new health and ethical choices, and particularly why veganism has become the new ‘it’ lifestyle for many.
Tara Gidus, RD (a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association) states that, “When you eat whole foods, you’re getting the food in its natural state…You’re getting it intact, with all of the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that are in the food.” To simplify this concept, this is the difference between eating a baked potato versus mashed potatoes, and an apple from apple juice. And while you might very well be thinking the upscale grocery store is your best option to buy whole foods, you will find they are actually available everywhere around the country – you just have to know what you’re looking for!
What Whole Foods Can I Buy?
Next time you’re in the grocery store (or even your garden) cast your eye around; see the vegetables, fruits and nuts around you? Soak up that sight because you can indulge yourself in all of these delicious delicacies! Basically a whole foods diet means that you can (and should!) eat plenty of whole grains instead of refined grains. Fruit, veggies, and beans should be chosen over supplements because they contain fiber and vitamins. Nuts and legumes are all on the menu too – so far, so good!
A key point to remember is that whole foods don’t contain additives like salts, fats or other preservatives that you find in processed and refined foods.
But What About Meat?
Fear not if you’re a carnivore at heart, you can still eat meat on a whole food diet! Of course, if you are vegan then you can swap out the meat with a vegan alternative. But if you’re not one to give up on the meat, try to be mindful of how you’re making it! For example, it’s better to cook a skinless chicken breast with healthful ingredients instead of chicken nuggets which are processed, have added fats and flavorings, and preservatives. As far as other meats go, grilling fish, pork, steak or chicken is great; just make sure you’ve got a big salad or a decent portion of vegetables to balance out the meal.
Be careful to only use extra-virgin cold pressed oils when it comes to cooking, as these tend to be less refined, and more high quality than canola oil and soybean oil. Don’t be afraid to be a bit creative with your meals! Combine different vegetables, proteins and fats together with various seasonings such as basil, parsley, tumeric, cumin, or even chili powder. The possibilities and flavors you can create are simply endless!
What If I’m a Vegan?
You have probably no doubt heard the term vegan cop a bit of abuse. Whether that’s due to the concept and lifestyle being misunderstood or simply dismissed by critics, being vegan is more popular than ever, and is especially common amongst young people. Social media (and Instagram in particular) can be looked at for making this lifestyle as popular as it is, and with more people researching and watching what they are putting into their bodies, the shift and focus towards a healthier lifestyle is becoming ever prominent.
Ethics wise, many people have also renounced eating dairy and meat products due to the ramifications of conditions in which animals used to produce these products have been kept. In Britain alone as of 2016, 542,000 people are now following a vegan diet and do not eat any animal products, which is a huge increase since the last estimate of 150,000 people ten years ago. The good thing is that nowadays public perception of veganism is improving. Magazine Publishing Director Keith Coomber from Vegan Life magazine has said that because of this changing opinion, veganism is “no longer an extreme lifestyle, it’s easy and accessible – you can walk into any supermarket and be greeted by a huge range of dairy-free milks and many more other vegan-friendly products.”
The important thing to remember with veganism is the benefit of choice. It offers a lifestyle and attitude that is mindful of trying to find alternative ways to reduce your impact on climate change, as well as cutting your support for industries that are cruel to animals. The fact that it is also great for your diet and maintaining a healthy weight just makes the prospect of trying it out even more compelling.
We know that veganism is not for everyone, and that for some it may still be a bit too extreme a direction to pursue. However, if you are interested in a healthier lifestyle, starting on a whole foods diet is a positive step forward towards making healthier choices, in terms of your diet and the impact on the earth. Making an extra effort to look for products that are not processed will be better for you in the long run. And at the end of the day, it makes the growers happier, and gives you a bit of peace of mind that you can make a small difference by changing up what you buy.
To get a full list of vegan recipes curated by us at Massel, hop on over to our page to have a browse through some of the delicious options. Just remember, going vegan doesn’t mean your diet is limited! While you’re at it, let us know on Facebook what you think of the recipes you try out, and what you think of veganism as a whole.