Why do Vegans become obsessive about food restrictions, and why they shouldn’t

Why do vegans become obsessive about food restrictions, and why they shouldn’t be

When I decided to eliminate all animal products from my diet and go vegan, like many people, I started to watch YouTube videos recorded by other vegans and read online articles written by them too.

Within just a few days of starting my research, however, I was starting to see quickly why so many people think vegans are not only obsessive about food restrictions, but often obnoxious and rude about them as well.

After all, it is one thing to go vegan, eat healthy plant-based meals and follow a healthy lifestyle.

It is completely another to not only harass people that do not follow the vegan lifestyle, but to also make videos that are so obsessive about the vegan food you are now apparently “not allowed” to eat, most non-vegans, and some vegans too, are going to respond with “What the f&ck!”. And then go back to eating meat. Because, frankly, it is too obsessive, completely unnecessary and can damage your health.

Case in point, one vegan on YouTube I’ve been following for a while who seems to be becoming increasingly obsessive about the food he eats. Recently, he released a video talking about all oils being bad and why you need to eliminate them from your diet. A video based on only certain scientific studies that fit his view of reality, and completely ignoring those studies done after the ones he cited by the same people and that say the exact opposite.

Besides that eating certain oils in moderation is not going to kill you as the Spanish, who eat boatloads of olive oil and are the world’s second longest-living people can attest to, promoting an even more restrictive diet than just happily being vegan is, quite frankly, stupid.

That kind of veganism, obsessing over everything you put in your mouth, and trying to cut down the food you eat to only so-called ‘clean food‘ (which, by the way, don’t exist) does nothing more than make your diet poorer, and the people you are preaching to pissed off that, as vegans, there is one more thing they are not ‘supposed’ to eat.

So, if you are a vegan and wondering why other vegans are so obsessed about food restrictions, and still confused about what you should be eating, here are a few things that may help.

Vegan banana pancakes made with wholewheat rye flour. Yum!

A few points about eating on a vegan lifestyle

  • A good vegan diet usually consists of foods like wholegrain bread, pasta, oats, rice (white or brown), various types of beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables, and some oils. In other words, there are thousands of foods you can eat, and none are ‘cleaner’ than others.
  • Plant-based, whole foods are the best way to go. That means eat food that is actual food — fruit, vegetables, grains, pulses, nuts and seeds — and generally avoid all of the processed vegan foods — burgers, fake meats, fake cheese, sugary snacks, granola bars, sugary cereals etc. They might be ‘vegan’, but they are often loaded with fat and sugar, and so are no more healthy than their with-animal-products counterparts, even without the meat and dairy. Again, eating them once in a while won’t kill you. Eating them on a daily basis just might.
  • Some oil in moderation is fine, as long as it is a polyunsaturated fat (vegetable oil) or a monounsaturated fat (olive oil). While some vegans seem to be currently obsessed with eliminating all oils from their diet, there really is no need. In fact, if you do, you could eventually have health problems. For one thing, some vitamins — A, D, E and K — are fat-soluble. That means your body needs fat to be able to absorb them, which is why adding olive oil to your salad now and again may be a good idea. Interestingly too, one vlogger I followed for a while — High-Carb Hannah — was also one of those advocating a fat-free, oil-free diet for a long time. She changed her mind when she noticed her energy levels were poor and, even on a whole foods vegan diet, she was not feeling as healthy as she should.
My vegan shopping haul, minus those non-vegan cookies I mistakenly bought, and ate.
  • THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH GLUTEN. The number of vegans on a gluten-free diet is absurd. Especially as, unless you are in the 1 percent of the population that is gluten-intolerant, there is zero need to cut it out of your diet as it does not adversely affect your health. In fact, according to research, being on a gluten-free diet can actually be harmful to your health and could, in the long-term, cause you to have an increased chance of a heart attack. That is because wholegrain foods tend to improve  your chances of not developing heart disease, whereas gluten-free foods generally don’t. Gluten-free food is also expensive, and often comes with things like added sugar and without things like essential B vitamins and fiber.
  • Eating an animal product by mistake does not mean you are a failure as a vegan. I bought a box of cookies a few weeks ago absolutely convinced they were vegan. When I got home and looked closer at the label, I realized they were not. Did I throw them away? No. That is wasting food, and there are people starving in the world. Instead, I rationed myself with one cookie every few days for health reasons, until the box was empty. Am I a failed vegan because I ate a box of cookies with egg in them? No. 99.99 percent of my food intake is completely vegan. A box of cookies or another food I mistakenly buy once or twice a year doesn’t make me a failed vegan. Neither will it destroy my health, or save even one animal trapped in one of the world’s ‘factory farms’. In other words, we all make mistakes. The main thing is to learn from them and not make them again. And DON’T berate yourself for occasionally eating something you would rather not.
  • Don’t be extremely restrictive with your food choices. I see so many vegans starting off as a whole foods plant-based vegan cutting out all animal products. Then slowly they start to take away oil, gluten, sugar and on and on, until it eventually gets to a point where they are surviving on just a handful of foods. Some of them become so ridiculous with what they ‘can’ and ‘cannot’ eat, they end up being treated for an eating disorder while others have health problems they never had before. Or, in the ultimate case, they give up on the vegan lifestyle completely as it is just too difficult to adhere to. Don’t be crazily restrictive with your food choices. You will live to regret it. Eat as many plant-based whole foods as you can, as well as foods with gluten, oil and unprocessed sugar. You will find not only is a vegan lifestyle easier to adhere to, but you will feel better as well. If you don’t believe me, see what happened to an Instagrammer called The Blonde Vegan when she cut out so many foods on her raw vegan diet, her hair starting falling out, her skin looked terrible, she felt worse, and her periods stopped. And, instead of blaming it on herself, she blamed it on veganism. And then, of course, she sold her story in a book.

So what is the moral of this rant about vegans being too restrictive about the food they eat, and why this is never a good idea?

The moral  is, veganism is not difficult, so why are you trying to make it be? And why are you becoming so obsessive about your food?

Like I said, wholegrain bread, pasta, oats, rice (white or brown), various types of beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables, and some occasional oils.

That is a healthy vegan diet, as long as you are eating at least 2,000 calories a day. More if you are a guy or very active.

Follow it, and you will not have a problem staying vegan, nor will you be likely to suffer catastrophic health consequences as a result of being too restrictive with your food. After all, food should be enjoyed not obsessed over, because that is never ever healthy.

Related: How to make dirt cheap vegan chili for less than 80 cents a portion — and it’s delicious

Michelle Topham


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