With so much clashing information about the foods we put in our body, it’s hard to know what to believe. As a vegetarian, I face a lot of questions about plant-based protein, such as soy, and whether or not these processed replacements are adequate for my health. Today I’m compiling a list of the top six foods I hear controversial information about, and how I personally feel about putting these foods in my body. This story is going to be a combination of facts and opinions, so I encourage you to do your own research to form your own thoughts about these foods!


Soy

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The pros: Like I said, eating soy-based products is a huge part of my ovo-vegetarian diet. So many of the food staples in my fridge are soy-based, including vegan burgers, hot dogs, deli meat, cheese, yogurt and of course, tofu. Vegan meat replacements are a great way to get in your daily dose of protein, and because soy has a very mild flavor, it can be easily manipulated to take on the flavor of something new. Soy replacements are also easily accessible at supermarkets, and many restaurants are starting to offer plant-based entrees as well.

The cons: Soy allergies are common, so it sadly isn’t an ideal meal replacement for everybody. Soy also contains isoflavones, which can mimic the effects of estrogen and can thus disrupt your body’s natural hormone balance. For me, the best way to eat soy is to eat it in careful moderation, and ultimately balance the sources from which you receive your complete proteins. 


White Rice

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The pros: There is no conclusive research that shows white rice can cause weight gain, so you can stop worrying about that. White rice is also extremely easy to digest, making it ideal for anyone struggling with nausea, heartburn, or vomiting. If you’re dealing with any of these symptoms, white rice can be an excellent food to alleviate those uncomfortable systems. White rice can also be beneficial for pregnant women, due to the extra folate found in enriched white rice! I personally prefer brown rice over white rice, but I don’t think there’s anything detrimental about eating the latter. Again, it’s all about moderation.

The cons: Unfortunately, white rice is stripped of many nutrients and minerals found in brown rice. White rice is much more processed than brown rice, because it is stripped of its protective coating (called the hull). In a nutshell, white rice is just an empty carb, and doesn’t contain nearly as many nutritional benefits as its brown rice (which is a whole grain). That being said, white rice does have a longer shelf life, so it’s really your call. If you’re not too worried about your carb intake, then bring on the white rice.


Eggs

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The pros: As a vegetarian, eggs are my absolute favorite protein source. They’re cheap, easy to prepare, and are generally really nutritious. Although one large egg only contains six grams of protein, it’s still an excellent source to due the presence of all the essential amino acids (Or should I say, egg-sential). Eggs are easily accessible to me on my campus, and it’s usually a safe breakfast option for me. I’m glad I decided to reintroduce eggs into my diet after not eating them for a year, because my energy levels and overall health has definitely improved. 

The cons: While eggs are a great source of protein, they’re also very high in cholesterol. High cholesterol can be a leading factor in heart disease, so most nutritionists say limit your egg consumption to one a day. Eggs can also cause food poisoning if not cooked correctly, so make sure you cook them properly to avoid any illness. In general, scrambled eggs are less likely to make you ill than eggs with runny yolks. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy eggs, but make sure they’re properly cooked and safe to put in your body!


Coconut Oil

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The pros: For a while, it seemed like everyone was talking about how amazing coconut oil is. And then… everyone suddenly changed their mind? Coconut oil is often found in vegan snacks and baked goods, which is why so many people love it. I personally consume a lot of products containing coconut oil, because it works as a great filler for butter and lard. It also has a light, non-detectable taste, hence why it’s used in so many products. 

The cons: Unfortunately, although it is natural, coconut oil is extremely high in saturated fat. Similarly with high cholesterol, this can lead to heart disease and other serious issues. It’s been argued that consuming coconut oil is actually worse for you than butter, but again, if you’re a vegan, that’s usually your only option. I like to think of coconut oil in the same light as butter- it’s not healthy to eat all the time, but in a baked good or a sweet treat, a little bit is okay. One vegan cupcake will certainly not kill you.


Zero Calorie Sweetener

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The pros: Zero-calorie sweeteners were introduced for consumers seeking to limit their sugar and calorie intake. These types of sweeteners, both natural and artificial, can be useful for people with certain allergies who need these types of substitutes in their diet. Zero-calorie sweeteners will also not raise your blood pressure, making them ideal for folks with diabetes.

The cons: I personally do not consume any zero-calorie sweeteners, because I believe the cons outweigh the pros in this case. These sweeteners can cause a variety of problems down the line, including, uh, CANCER. Some sweeteners can also have a laxative effect, and can cause bloating, gas and diarrhea. I’m personally not a big soda person, but I always choose the real deal over the “diet” variety. I’d rather deal with a few extra calories than diarrhea and cancer, personally speaking. If you are looking for an alternative sweetener, try fruit juices/nectar, honey, molasses, or maple sugar.


Dairy Milk

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The pros: Drinking dairy milk during childhood has been linked with preventing childhood obesity, and can help to promote healthy bones and weight management. The high calcium in milk is what makes it so great for bone health, and that’s a leading reason why some people choose it over nut milk. Cow’s milk is also a great source of potassium, which can reduce high blood pressure. 

The cons: I am a little bit biased with this viewpoint, because I personally do not consume any dairy (no butter, cheese, ice cream, and certainly no milk). I primarily do this for ethical reasons, but I also abstain from dairy for health reasons. To put it simply, cow’s milk is not designed for human consumption. Excessive amounts of calcium can cause an influx of mucus and kidney stones in your body, which certainly doesn’t sound pleasant. I personally just feel healthier and lighter drinking almond milk instead, and I don’t notice a significant difference in taste, either. In a NUTshell, to each their own!


Sources: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-white-rice-bad-for-you

https://woman.thenest.com/advantages-disadvantages-eggs-2077.html

https://www.cosmopolitan.com/health-fitness/a10160379/coconut-oil-pros-and-cons/

https://milk.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=000656

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Short answer: Because my energy levels are suffering, because there is a such thing as eating humane eggs, and because I can.

Long answer: Normally, I wouldn’t dedicate an entire article solely to justifying myself and my lifestyle, but because veganism is such an extensive part of this blog, I feel like I owed it to you guys. And in complete transparency, my eating styles are hardly going to change at all as a result of eating “veggan.” I am still going to be posting tons of healthy vegan recipes, produce guides, and overall tips for eating a delicious plant-based diet. The only difference is, I have decided to reintroduce organic, ethically-raised, locally-sourced eggs back into my diet. (Hence the name v“egg”an!). One of the biggest reasons I went vegan in the first place is because I have an enormous respect for animals, and by going “veggan”, I do not want to compromise that respect. I’ve already gotten some flack from people who were supposed to be my “friends” for this decision, so let me explain to you why I, and many other conscious eaters, have decided to take this step in their diet.

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Like I said, the veggan diet is very similar to a vegan diet- I have just reintroduced locally-sourced eggs from home-raised chickens. This means I still do not consume meat, dish, dairy, honey, gelatin, or any other animal by products in both my food and clothing (no silk, wool and leather for me, either). And even though I have reintroduced eggs, I have been very adamant that the eggs I consume are ethically sourced, local, and organic. That means I’m not going to pull up to McDonald’s or Subway any time soon and order myself an egg sandwich; the only eggs I have consumed (and intend to consume) are sourced from small, humane farms in my community. There is, of course, animal cruelty in the egg industry, and like any ethical plant-based eater, I abstain from those buying habits as a moral, personal choice. I completely understand how a vegan would feel disrespected by someone calling themselves a “veggan” because it definitely can come across as being ignorant. I really want to make it very clear that I have put a lot of research into distinguishing commercially farmed eggs from home-raised ones, so if you are interested in learning more about cruelty in the egg industry (and how to avoid it), I’ll leave some links below.

Finally, to answer the question I’m sure a lot of you may have, why did I decide to reintroduce eggs?

The biggest reason has to do with my energy levels, which are depleted more quickly than other peoples’ due to other conditions I am currently dealing with. Psychically, while veganism has been incredible for me in strengthening my hair and nails, brightening my skin, and even helping me slim up a bit, I have noticed a definite decline in my overall energy levels. And yes, while it is possible to have adequate energy on a strict vegan diet, it requires a lot of effort and emphasis supplements and vitamins, like B complex and iron, to achieve. It’s easy for some people, but for me, it’s simply something I have struggled with a lot, even with the additional supplements. In 2019 alone, I’ve already experienced an iron deficiency that totally destroyed my energy levels and kept me in bed for most of the day. Now that I’m back home for the summer and I want to start exercising regularly, I just can’t afford to be feeling so exhausted and fatigued all the time. Not only is it not good for me physically, but emotionally, it has also taken a toll. Eggs, as you may know, are a fantastic source of B-12 and iron, and are also a complete protein. For my current lifestyle, current location, and current health, being a “veggan” is simply the best option for me.

Does that mean I’m never going to be vegan again? Of course not! It’s still an ultimate goal I would like to achieve again someday, when my personal circumstances and independence has improved. But in the meantime, if I have the opportunity to eat ethically-sourced, humane-raised eggs that support small farms in my area, I am going to utilize that without feeling any guilt. And trust me, coming to this hard decision did raise a lot of guilt on my part.

On the topic of guilt, a few of my other plant-based “friends” have reached out to me to express their distaste with my decision, but at the end of the day, it’s my body, and my choice to make. It’s not a competition to see who can be the best vegan, or who can be the most ethical eater. I still consider myself to be eating a moral, plant-based diet, and that’s good enough for me. I mention this for all the folks who will be tempted to leave their own unsolicited advice under this article- suggestions are fine, but if you’re going to bash me for my diet/lifestyle choices, maybe you should try to reread this article with a more empathetic heart.

I hope this article has been informative for you to read! Like I said, I will leave links at the bottom of the page if you are interested in learning about how to eat ethically, even if that does mean eating eggs. No matter what you do in life, always strive for what’s right in your circumstances, and what will make you the most happy. At the end of the day, your happiness is what truly matters when it comes to your body.

On a side note: I know my blog key still says “My Vegan Journal”, but I haven’t been able to find a way to change it. I am working on it, though, and will adjust it to say “My Plant-Based Journal” as soon as possible!

Links to check out:

https://www.eatthis.com/veggan/

https://www.thekitchn.com/whats-a-veggan-242979

https://animalsaustralia.org/features/egg-industry-secrets.php

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