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Natural Awakenings Healthy Living Magazine

The Oreo Trap

For all those endeavoring to eat more vegan this year, our health is indeed our wealth; but beware of the pitfalls of junk food veganism. It’s not unusual for those new to vegan eating to lose weight, largely because they often subsist on bananas and green salads while figuring out how to navigate the grocery store and local cafés.

            Then, like a siren’s call, they can fall prey to the wicked ways of vegan junk food, fast food and sinful Impossible burgers, to say nothing of the accidentally vegan delights that have always littered store shelves such as Oreos, Nutterbutters, Fritos, crescent rolls and Twizzlers. Then just like that, the pendulum swings back, and the pounds initially shed come roaring back with a vengeance.

            While the convenience of such foods can be tempting, don’t let the ease of vegan junk food trump the need for nutrition. Nutritionally dense food is important for all diets: vegan, omnivore and everything in-between. A conscientious approach to eating, along with a few easy tips, is sure to help any newbie avoid the Oreo trap.

- Just because it says vegan doesn’t make it healthy. Coconut ice cream and frozen plant-based meals do not have a leg up on their non-vegan counterparts.

- If we can’t pronounce the ingredients, it probably isn’t good for us, vegan or not.

- Smoothies (made from whole fruits and veggies) are our friend. Pack them with peas, protein powder, peanut butter or chia seeds to start (or end) the day with an easy win.

- Eat the good stuff first. Don’t order onion rings as an appetizer before a quinoa bowl. Fill up with nutritious food first, then sparingly indulge on the other stuff. The same goes for any fast food; think of it as a splurge, not a staple.

We can surround ourselves with healthy options. Stock the kitchen purse, car and backpack with healthy, vegan snacks. Think trail mix, not Tostitos, and fruit, not Fritos.

            Try new things. Take a spin down the international foods aisle. Try to add one new ingredient to our cart each grocery trip. Maybe we love barley. Or fonio. Opt for flavor-packed Mediterranean takeout instead of the standby burger and fries.

Mary Bishop, “The Vegan Mary”, holds a certificate of plant-based nutrition from Cornell University, and a master’s degree in business. For more information, visit