Getting ‘vegucated’

After a recent viewing of the documentary Vegucated, there was some pretty compelling information worth sharing - as well as a few nutritionally controversial food–pas that are critical to know in your own journey towards health.

After a recent viewing of the documentary Vegucated, there was some pretty compelling information worth sharing – as well as a few nutritionally controversial food–pas that are critical to know in your own journey towards health.

The documentary features three meat and cheese lovers from New York, all with various backgrounds switching to a vegan diet.

One, who many could relate to — a single mom working two jobs who was used to pre-packaged fast foods, pop and having no time to prepare wholesome meals for her and her family. Another is a young teenage girl who is overweight and striving to live a healthier life.

They meet with Dr. Fuhrman, author of Eat to Live, a prominent doctor in the field of nutrition and disease prevention to get the full rundown of blood tests, and physical assessments as they venture on this journey to what he claims to be the most health supportive diet — a plant based one.

A plant-based diet, or vegan diet contains no animal products — no meat, no dairy, no eggs and for some no honey and not even the purchase of animal based products, such as leather or personal care products that have been animal tested. It incorporates fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes, as well as sprouted and fermented plant based foods.

The diet is being said to have preventative and even some reversal effects on things like heart disease, diabetes and other prominent illnesses in our society.

They soon hit the grocery store and get in the kitchen to prepare some delicious vegan dishes.

Not only are they changing what they eat, but also start on an exercise regime and visit farmers to understand the way food is produced. The results are pretty profound — both on an awareness level as well as a nutritional one.

As one could only imagine, they also went on to share many of the same struggles. Including social functions, family meals, being “that person,” having desires to eat things like cheese, and mainly just feeling limited on many of their selections.

So the real question is — is vegan really healthier?

As a born and raised Alberta beef kind of gal, I still have no qualms with the vegan diet personally. In fact, I really promote mostly plant based, or vegan foods.

Some of the healthiest of the people I know are vegan, but more in a spirulina, superfood, fermented food, no sugar, really know their stuff kind of way.

Then there’s the gone vegan and gone-back type, which got them what they needed and felt better going back to some natural animal products and I must say, some of the least healthy people I know are vegan as well — in a chips and pop, processed vegan foods kind of way.

So from a health standpoint I don’t believe going vegan for the sake of vegan is necessarily healthier.

I don’t personally believe it is as much the elimination of animal products as it is the higher consumption of fiber and nutrient rich foods, which certainly by default will minimize animal products — but from a nutritional standpoint there is certainly a lot of argument towards eating some quality animal products as well, which then makes it quite the personal educated choice.

What do you believe? If you are considering going more of the vegan route just do your best to stick to whole natural foods — that can sometimes be struggle enough.

Bottom line — don’t fret about eliminating anything as much as just upping the vegetation on your plate.

Kristin Fraser, BSc, is a holistic nutritionist and local freelance writer. Her column appears every second Thursday. She can be reached at kristin@somethingtochewon.ca.

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