Unhealthy Vegan Alternatives

By Amelia Lipcsei

In recent years, veganism has become a widely popular trend. Influencers can be seen promoting vegan products as “healthy,” and brands often market vegan goods as “more nutritional.” However, although the idea of veganism may have positive values behind it, the way Americans have spun the trend is often more unhealthy than an unrestricted diet. 

To the majority of Americans, vegan products are viewed as significantly healthier than non-vegan ones. Many consumers fail to check ingredient lists before purchasing items. For instance, people tend to gravitate towards vegan “junk food,” such as vegan ice cream, candy, cookies, or sauces due to the marketing being a “healthier alternative.” In reality, the majority of these products contain just as much added sugar and fat, and significantly less healthy vitamins and minerals as regular desserts. In fact, Maggie Michalczyk, a dietician from Chicago, explains that “When manufacturers take out butter and eggs, they often put in starches, gums, [and] pectins to achieve a similar consistency and texture.” These unnatural products can cause adverse side effects such as improper digestion, stomach issues, and are even linked to cancer.

Likewise, frozen fake meats also tend to have a multitude of preservatives to replicate the consistency and texture of real meat. Michalczyk emphasizes that fake meats “that contain a lot of preservatives are low in every other nutrients that vegans need (protein, vitamin B12, minerals like iron, etc.).” These fake meats also are high in sodium, which has been linked to heart problems and high blood pressure. 

So, if you want to become vegan for reasons other than health, go for it; however, make sure you do quality research before deciding on a diet that may do more harm than good.