Contemporary “labeled” food isn’t always healthy

For those who don’t read blogs or keep up with food culture in the US, vegan and vegetarian-ism is huge (kind of like 5 member boy band groups in the ’90s). These food movements help decrease the risk of several diseases, save  little animal souls, and minimize CO2 output from transporting animals (for more on this, read Omnivore’s Dilemma). So omitting meat is good for body, mind, and soul, right?

Well, sorta.

Just because a food is vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, or made out of space rocks does not mean that it is good for you.

Take a look at gluten-free cookies from FoodNetwork.com. They still use butter substitutes and sugar. There is no calorie slash. These cookies have 24 g of fat and 340 calories. That’s over 1/3 of your daily fat needs…in ONE cookie.

Don’t get me wrong, these cookies are great for those with Celiac disease. But the label “gluten-free” ≠ healthy.

1. You don’t have to be a food snob to eat healthy. I.e., you can still eat meat and be healthy, just choose leans cuts, low fat dairy, and whole grain bread. Eat lots of vegetables.

2. You don’t have to be a food snob to minimize your impact on the environment. I.e., recycle paper, use plastic bags to pickup after your dog, walk to the store instead of driving. There are many ways to minimize your impact other than omitting meat.

If you are concerned about your protein intake…don’t be. Protein isn’t exactly a “struggle” macronutrient for most of us. Did you know, for example, that milk has around 8 grams of protein in it? Bread, especially if it’s high fiber and whole grain, also has about 8-17 grams per slice. Go ahead, look at your food labels! Milk and bread alone have about as much protein as an 1 oz of chicken (and they aren’t carrying around the saturated fat that meat often carries). Okay, stepping off the Americans-already-get-too-much-protein soapbox.

All I’m saying is this: don’t depend on the “title” of the food for your nutrition. Just like organic Oreos are no better for you than regular Oreos (just because they are organic), don’t base a products healthfulness of it’s lack/addition of meat or dairy.

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