Vegan Quinoa Bowl

How Come Vegan Isn’t the Best Plant-Based Diet?

Is veganism having an identity crisis? On one hand, stories bombard us with the message that veganism is going mainstream. Vegan restaurant options are expanding crazy fast. A plant-based diet is supposed to be good for saving your health, your soul, and even the planet.

But on the other hand, sticklers are quick to tell us that a plant-based diet is not necessarily a vegan diet. And then, this week we learned from U.S. News that a vegan diet is not even the best plant-based diet. Not even close. It’s number nine in the ranking of plant-based diets – right behind the Nutritarian diet. And yet, it’s number two in the rankings for both weight loss and diabetes. Go figure.

Look It Up!

From some in the vegan movement, we hear impatience with the confusion between veganism and mere plant-based diets. Earlier this year when a social media star Rawvana strayed from the raw vegan lifestyle she promoted, harsh attacks came her way almost instantly. True believers in veganism could not tolerate a whiff of hypocrisy – even though she was doing it for medical reasons.

“Look it up,” says the New York Times. Veganism is more than just a simple plant-based lifestyle. It’s about more than just personal health. It’s a whole philosophical framework.

The Fuzzy World of Plant-Based Eating

So for those of us who want to follow the trend, we can say we’re eating a healthy plant-based diet. While only three percent of Americans are vegan, roughly 40 percent say they are pursuing a plant-based diet. That opens a whole world of commercial opportunities. Celebrities like Beyoncé and Jay-Z can talk vegan, but really just do the plant-based thing themselves.

Lancet commissions and nutrition gurus can give people permission to feel both righteous and healthy if they chase the plant-based lifestyle. It’s a fuzzy, warm feeling you can claim without having to actually change your dietary habits much. A perfect, easy consumer proposition.

All in all, eating less meat is not a bad idea. Nor is it a bad idea to steer clear of rigid dietary ideology. The social media star formerly known as Rawvana now goes simply by her first name online – Yovana. “People are learning not to put labels on themselves or on their diet,” she says.

Click here  for more from the Times and here for more on how the vegan diet stacked up in this year’s diet derby.

Vegan Quinoa Bowl, photograph © Ella Olsson / flickr

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January 5, 2020