Vegans Only Eat Processed Foods, Don’t They?

Do vegans only eat unhealthy processed foods? Let’s unpack this stereotype…

Flat lay of plant based vegetarian meat products for a plant based diet on a wooden table
Image Credit: AdobeStock

First of all, it’s rare to find anyone who doesn’t eat processed foods at some point, whatever their diet. These products are created to make life easier and healthier for us all. That’s right – processed foods are not all bad!

Breakfast cereals, bread, yoghurt, baked beans, pasta and a host of other things that we eat on a regular basis are processed, but they also contain nutrients we need, and we shouldn’t be too snobby about them.

It’s a lot harder to live healthily only from what we create from fresh, raw ingredients, not least because of the time it takes to prepare and cook them.

There is now a huge range of vegan convenience foods available, and while it is technically possible to eat only processed foods as a vegan, no one actually does that!

Even junk-food junkies like some vegetables with their roast dinner or a glass of fruit juice with their breakfast. But for most of us, processed foods will make up a portion of our diet, and that is true for meat-eaters and vegetarians, too.

Vegans come in all shapes and sizes, and we all have different motivations. Those who choose to be vegan because they want to eat a cleaner diet may well shun processed foods, and that’s great.

Others, who choose the vegan diet primarily out of a concern for animals, may delve into the world of vegan salami, sausages and sour cream. Great for them, too.

It’s wonderful that these foods exist for vegans, and that we can choose which of them (if any) are for us.

Interestingly, people who relied heavily on processed foods before becoming vegan often find they are more interested in nutrition after they stop eating meat, eggs and dairy, and they seek out the wealth of healthy foods they may not have tried before.

When it comes to vegan meat and dairy alternatives, there are many criticisms about them being unnatural, unhealthy and overly processed. But why are meat substitutes considered less natural than bacon, ham and sausages? Both are processed but it’s only the red meat items that cause bowel cancer.

A plant-based diet can look however you want it to. So if you’re concerned about the misconception that vegan diets are only comprised of ultra-processed foods, don’t let that put you off.

Read our full article on ultra-processed foods and plant-based diets.

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