Vegan Health

Processed Vegan Snacks – Good Or Bad For Veganism?

A little over a decade ago, vegans were a rare things and it was almost impossible to come across vegan foods at the grocery store. Today, the vegetarian movement has grown considerably, and depending on which poll you consult, as high as 6 percent or more of the American population is vegan. It is no wonder then that big food brands have stepped in to benefit from the rising vegetarian demographic. Today, if you take a stroll in your local supermarket, you will see a wide variety of vegan processed foods. Things like vegan turkey, ham, sour cream, butter, and cheese were unheard of just a decade ago. Now they are in nearly every supermarket.

easy vegan snacks
Vegan meat and vegan cheese is easy to find now with brands like Tofurky, Field Roast, Gardein and others filling this food niche’.

Healthy Vegan Snacks Vs Processed Foods

Going vegan is certainly a noble idea, but the decision doesn’t always come easy for many. Fortunately, vegan snack foods have made the transition to this lifestyle easier. Huge food brands have done an excellent job of changing the public’s negative perception on vegan protein sources such as soy. They have played up their mock meats as low-fat, great sources of proteins. They hail soy protein for its many benefits and recommend it for a variety of conditions from menopause to diabetes. While we cannot deny the few benefits of these foods, we are smart to realize that they do not necessarily make life healthier. The question many in the vegan movement have is if they are good or bad as a whole. While these processed vegan foods and snacks aren’t necessarily healthy they do make it a lot easier for the average person to go vegan. Where even a decade ago it seemed like a daunting task, today it can be done nearly painlessly for even the most weak willed person. Sure this is helping more people go vegan. And that is saving millions of animals. But what is it do to us?

Easy Vegan Snacks : The Consequences

Mock meats and other vegan snack foods have one thing in common with other processed foods – they are all PROCESSED. In fact, the same big brands that are behind the easy vegan snacks are usually the same brands associated with popular junk foods. Like all processed foods, most processed vegan offerings contain considerably high levels of sodium and are low in essential nutrients and fiber. Another downside of faux meats is that they are bad for the environment, and protecting our environment is one of the major reasons many people go vegan. According to recent studies on the environmental impact of packaged foods, researchers found that processing mock meat not only uses more energy than processing real meats, but also has worse side-effects.

Furthermore, faux meats remind vegetarians and vegans of what they are missing. Each slice of tofurkey or mock roast you bite is in essence saying, “haha, you wish you could be having the real thing but instead you have me!” Certainly, there are a couple of vegans and vegetarians out there who genuinely prefer the flavour of these mock meats over the real thing, but for most of us, it proves difficult to get accustomed to. Many in the vegan movement argue that it just simpler to go with organic whole foods from the beginning. It’s certainly healthier.

We got the opinion of three popular vegan voices on youtube to share their thoughts. Why did they say?

Watch the full length videos these clips came from at the links below

Colleen Patrick-Goudreau –
Unnatural Vegan –
Mango Mama –

Vegan Snack Foods, good or bad?

In general, processed foods cannot be described as “healthy”. It is the overwhelming feeling among the vegetarian community that processed vegan foods are not as healthy as they claim. There are various great processed foods rich in proteins that vegans can enjoy such as tofu and tempeh. In fact, these foods are used around the globe in ancient cuisines. Vegans and Vegetarians really need to consider the quality of the food they eat. Your best bet when shopping around is buying organic whole foods. Even when vegan processed foods are not made with additives or harmful products, they can never compare to fresh, organic foods.

healty vegan snacks
Where vegan choices were once only found in the produce isle. Now you can get vegan ice cream, vegan sour cream and even vegan beef.

Take The Challenge

Take the 7 day challenge and don’t eat any processed foods. Make your meals from fresh organic fruits, vegetable and legumes. Eat nuts and seed in very limited quantities. I’m betting you will have more energy and clarity at the end of the seven days. It’s amazing what removing processed foods from our diets can do. Will you take the challenge? If you gave up processed vegan foods for fresh organic whole foods, please leave a comment and share your experience. Your story might be the one that inspires someone to change!

The Undeniable benefit

Anything that helps more people move to veganism is a win for the animals. Speaking from personal experience I relied a lot on some processed foods in the beginning. But as you get deeper into it you tend to progress towards healthier eating. That was my experience anyway. The diet/health purist will probably continue to push hard against such processed foods. The purely ethical vegans will praise anything that saves one more animal. I think that is probably where things will always stand. But it’s good to discuss, learn and work towards a common goal. Veganism for everyone!

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  1. Boy are you opening up the feud here…should this even be an issue or debate? The whole point of Veganism is to live without causing suffering to animals as best as you’re able. Stirring thigs up between the diet purists and those who enjoy processed foods doesn’t serve any good purpose.

  2. I think the problem with processed vegan food is its misleading on what vegan really is. So many people think to be vegan all you eat is tofu, boca burgers, soy cheese and tofurky products. While a lot of those are fine and cool, they are an extreme turn off to a lot of meat eaters. I hated the idea of veganism because i thought that’s what you ate as a vegan. I had to learn what foods vegans really ate and then it became more appealing. As cool as it is to have some subs, it can be a hinderance to veganism for sure. More info needs to go out of what a real vegan diet typically consists of.

  3. I think to each their own. I personally don’t buy vegan substitute soften but I might for the 4th because it suits the situation. I prefer to make my own ( so I know whats in it) but my life is not as busy as some. I think we all know processed foods are not all that but if and when is up to the individual right?

  4. Id say not all the time, but sure.

    I think some vegan food that people would consider normal would surprise them, like a peanut butter sandwich, or a baked sweet potato covered in sautéed veggies or pasta with tomato sauce. All of these can be 100% vegan and seem perfectly normal to an individual.

    It’s nice to have vegan “meat” on occasion, but showing someone how to cook affordable vegan foods, like rice and beans, might be more approachable to some.

    Then there are some who ethically do not want to eat animals but want to eat something familiar, like a burger or a pizza once and awhile. That’s when they can use these products to feel more comfortable. Just read ingredients.

    Some products are processed with natural organic ingredients and still can make the health conscious satisfied.

  5. As long as it’s processed in a vegan manner (no animals harmed), it’s fine. It’s not an ideal diet, but no one is perfect in their diet and environmental impact. my kids call anything processed “processed crap in a box”, but still eat it on occasion and still live.

  6. Sure. The purpose of veganism is not health, though that’s a pleasant side effect. The purpose is to not use animals as food, for clothing, etc. So, if you are going to eat tofurkey or a vegan brownie, instead of the real thing, go for it.

  7. I’ve only been vegan for six years now, but in that time I have seen a huge increase in the amount of vegan junk food that is readily available. While it’s better than non-vegan junk food, I encourage people to limit how much of it they eat. Your health is so important!

  8. if the goal is to end animal suffering, cool to try the alternate options… but if your goal is also a healthier living, no processed food is good… technically…… personally i try & stay away from processed foods as much as possible…

  9. It’s better than eating an animal. When I first became vegan, and was still learning to adapt my cooking skills, I purchased processed food. As my competence increased, I cooked more and more on my own. Now, I keep a few frozen things on hand for emergencies (and there are things my son enjoys) and special occasions. Again, if it keeps people from eating animal products, it’s seems ok to me.

  10. Obviously a plant based diet is best if built around whole foods, but there are many products that health food stores sell such as Hilary’s burgers, Sol Cuisine burgers, Amy’s Kitchen vegan chilli and soups, and Tofurky ‘chick’n’ that are so good and best to use in a pinch when you get home after a long day and just want to throw something together. It’s important to use these as components of a veggie loaded meal though.

  11. I think sometimes we all just want a meal we use to have as kids or something we miss. It’s nice to know that there are vegan versions out there. Sometimes I just crave “chikin” nuggets, Mac and “cheez” with apple sauce. But I do think that whole foods plant based is best with very little processed foods but sometimes you just have to treat yourself 🙂

  12. I went vegetarian when I was 15 (31 years ago) and there were very few vegetarian soy foods available but yes, I did rely on them and they definitely helped me stay committed to my new dietary choice. When I went vegan 26 years ago I was living in England, which despite what people might think of English food, has long been much more progressive about vegetarianism and had a lot of choices, and again I did eat my favorite chili tofu burger almost every day. The reality of being a student. I am now a working mom with a vegan family and sometimes when I get off of work I can fix a meal from scratch but sometimes it’s all I can do to get the veggie burgers out of the freezer and I am thankful for the many options we now have. Anyone who has been vegan for long remembers how hard it used to be to find decent soy milk and now we have every kind of alternative milk available. So while I don’t advocate eating processed food all the time, it can help people become vegan or at least vegetarian and hell, maybe you just don’t want to cook that day. (And yes, I know I can cook ahead and freeze but unless someone wants to buy me a bigger freezer that isn’t going to happen often.)

  13. Yes to the vegan snacks and fast food. Sure you can’t only eat that. You also have to eat fresh produce daily but having some goodies each week is ok. I know there are plenty of other animal friendly people who love animals but they also love food. We live to do well but also to enjoy. Good food is enjoying for me. Also it makes the switch for meat eaters so much easier

  14. Whole foods is really the best option. It’s fun to play around with all the cool substitutes, but they often contain weird additives. Carrageenan is a bad one to avoid, it seems. There is evidence that it causes inflammation in the gut and possibly cancer, but not enough research has been done. I would suggest according it if you have GI issues. I also can’t do gluten, and that’s often in a lot of vegan foods that I want to try. I have to be careful, because some things have gluten in them for no obvious reason.

  15. Don’t get me wrong. I love fruits and veggies and I think we should all eat them more but if that’s all it took to get the masses on board for veganism then we would be further along by now.. we need to support these businesses who might be able to change people’s minds with fantastic alternatives to their usual diet

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