It’s the question I think a lot of people avoid asking because they want to continue eating vegan cakes whilst thinking they’re doing their body some good. Somehow in recent years the word vegan has become synonymous with the word healthy. When we see labels saying ‘gluten free’ or ‘dairy free’ most of us assume that this means it’s better for us; the healthier alternative. Well that’s not usually the case and vegan food is not just healthier by definition.
For those who don’t know, being vegan when it comes to food means excluding absolutely everything from your diet that’s derived from animals. This includes anything with eggs in, milk, many sweets because of the animal-derived ingredients they contain and much more. Just think about how many convenience foods have milk and eggs in, like pastries, croissants, dressings, custards and ice-cream, butter, cheese, and you get the gist. So yes, being vegan means you exclude a lot of unhealthy foods and have to opt for fruit and vegetables instead, plant-based milk and dairy free alternatives. But that doesn’t mean all vegan foods are healthier.
The most important thing to remember is that sugar isn’t derived from animals, which means vegan foods can be made using large amounts of sugar. Same goes for salt. There are many cafes that I’ve been to myself where I’ve seen an amazing mouth-watering cake on the counter, maybe a vegan chocolate cake, and I thought “Ooh that might be better for me than normal chocolate cake, I’ll get some to go with my coffee”, but then I think twice because it is highly likely that it contains as much sugar as a non-vegan cake, to make it taste great.
In short, you should only really eat vegan foods if you’re allergic to dairy, because if you’re living a healthy lifestyle or you’re on a diet you could be jeopardising it by indulging in vegan treats. Look out for healthy vegan snack bars instead like, my personal favourite, Nakd bars which are made just with fruit and nuts but are so tasty. If you like the taste of plant-based milks like I do, then that’s great and it’s nice to swap between having them and cow’s milk throughout the week.
Bottom line is next time you see something that is labelled as vegan just be wary, check the label for sugar content, and think twice before you buy.