This is part two of a series on vegan diets. If you haven’t read part one, you can read it here!
Before diving into the
meat main part of this series, I think some clarification is necessary. Not all vegan diets are created equal, and the type of vegan diet in question is going to have a huge impact on every topic I want to discuss: nutrition, sustainability, anthropology, and ethics, to name a few. Other than the fact that all vegan diets are devoid of animal products, they can be as different and varied as the people who choose to eat them. As with anything, it’s a sliding scale, but for my purposes I’ve split them into three main categories. I’ve also tried to give them names that will make it easier for me to reference that particular type in the future (:
1. SAD Vegan
The Standard American Diet: Vegan Edition. This is the classic plant-based (read: factory) diet, featuring ultra-processed, genetically modified gems such as Tofurky, Tofutti, and Yves. The SAD vegan dieter replaces animal products with one part soy, one part wheat gluten, and one part ‘atta boys’ (courtesy of the animals they’re no longer consuming). A SAD vegan typically doesn’t put a lot of thought into their food, beyond making sure that no rogue gelatin powder or fish sauce makes its way into their restaurant meal. They probably try to make ‘healthy’ choices such as salads, whole grain bread, and fruit, but the convenience, protein content, and mouth-feel of processed vegan meat replacements really cannot be beat.
2. Whole Vegan
The Whole vegan is a bit more committed to their health and a bit more adept at reading ingredient lists, and they try to build their diet out of mostly whole foods. The Whole vegan dieter routinely combines beans and tortillas, chickpeas and rice, and peanut butter and bread to make ‘complete proteins,’ and they eat the heck out of quinoa. They’ll probably snack on some rice cheese or nuke a garden burger occasionally, but overall, they try to avoid those common frankenfoods.
3. Raw Vegan
The Raw vegan eats only raw plant foods, which means they have few (if any) processed foods in their diet. Salads, green smoothies, and fruit are their mainstays, they rely on nuts and avocado for fat, and they are usually good friends with their dehydrator. For such a limited diet, they’ve come up with some pretty gourmet recipes using things like dried fruit and nuts, but the bulk of their diet is typically just fruits and vegetables in their natural form.
So there you have it: my sweeping categorization of vegan diets into three broad segments. I’ll be referencing those archetypes throughout this series, so hopefully this post has clarified what I mean when I say ‘SAD’ vegan, ‘Whole’ vegan, or ‘Raw’ vegan. Next up, I’ll be talking about the health aspect of vegan diets – are they nutritionally complete? Are they healthier than average meat-containing diets? And how to they compare to Paleo? Stay tuned!