If you consider an ethical vegan that chooses this path purely for the love of animals but simply replaces the food in their SAD (Standard American Diet) with vegan packaged substitutes I think it's predictable where their long term health will go. When we eat like the typical person in the first world heart disease, obesity, diabetes and other health related issues predictably follow. Now bring in the challenges of the typical vegan concerns (lack of protein, iron, calcium, B12 etc) and you have a group of people that are headed for a health crisis. It might seem I'm just hypothesizing, but I've personally known vegans that have found themselves low on iron (anemic), B12 or who have perceived themselves as lacking in protein and have gone back to an omnivore diet. While a health focused vegan would likely do this with little regret as their motivation is purely health, the ethical vegan is faced with a quandary. The very thing they purport to value the most (animal lives) is sacrificed simply because they failed to spend any effort on basic nutrition. When I listen to the ethical vegan community in person, on social media or on podcasts the ardent pursuit of vegan junk food seems to take centre stage. When I hear this all I see is a train charging toward perpetuating the myth that a plant based diet can't be healthy. In my view, living healthfully is the best way to encourage change. Witnessing a healthy, thriving vegan rather than a doughy anemic one is the best advert for the lifestyle possible and ethical vegans have the most to lose by not being healthy vegans. When they find themselves sitting in a doctors office being told to eat meat or animal products for their own health, it's not a simple choice. They've based their ethics on not consuming animals, but their pursuit of packaged food has placed them in a very uncomfortable spot. Therefore the ethical vegan has more to lose from being unhealthy than the health food vegan.
It would be nice if the commercialization of veganism followed a healthful plant based path. And in part it is. I've certainly seen an increase in vegan health food (though nothing beats fruits, beans and vegetables right?) since starting on this plant based path four years ago. But it is the tension between ethical and health vegans itself that I find least helpful to the cause. While I indulge in junk food myself as I'm a normal human being with normal cravings, I can't help but look ahead to the slippery slope the popularism of the diet is having on our abundance of junk food choices. Ethical vegans may continue to rejoice the latest vegan cheesecake, but predictably I think they'll also face their own demons when their health fails.
Possibly I'm just in a glass half empty kind of mood. What are your thoughts on vegan junk food?