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Here’s How You Can Clean Up Your Vegan Diet

Plant-based lifestyles aren’t always healthier. Get back on track with these tips.

Despite what you may have read, a vegan diet doesn’t automatically mean healthy. A quick Google search for ‘vegan junk food’ reveals that Oreos, certain Pop Tarts, Sour Patch Kids, and certain flavours of Doritos all pass the animal-free test. (Oil and sugar? Vegan!) So yes, it’s quite easy to indulge on vegan treats and skip out on whole, unprocessed foods. While a vegan diet, in theory, means you’re eating more fruits and vegetables than someone eating the standard Western diet, it’s easy for produce intake to take a backseat in favour of delicious, highly processed vegan foods. So in the spirit of renewal, here are a few ways to clean up your plant-based diet to help you run strong.
 
Go Green (Again)
If I’ve found myself straying too far from veggie-based meals, the first thing I do is try to include leafy greens at every meal. This usually takes the form of adding two giant handfuls of spinach to my morning smoothie or tofu scramble, having a gigantic salad for lunch, and roasting or sautéing kale to have with dinner. Even one day of intentionally including leafy greens at every meal is enough to shock my body out of whatever non-veggie eating funk I’m in.

 

Be Sweet, But Not Too Sweet 
Added sugar (even natural added sugar like maple syrup) can be found in seemingly healthy foods, like whole-wheat bread, pasta sauce, and your plant-based yogurts. Eating too much added (processed and natural) sugar can lead to negative health effects and prevents you from filling up on nutritionally dense foods.
Find ways to ditch some of that extra sweetness. I eliminated my usual afternoon sugar fix and noticed the immediate impact on my energy levels throughout the day. Instead of needing a chocolate fix at 3pm, I started reaching for fruit to power me through. Bonus points for keeping your teeth happy and healthy, too. 
 
Challenge Yourself to Limit Packaged Goods 
My husband and I started a challenge at the beginning of the year after realising we’d been relying too heavily on packaged snacks. It’s easy to make excited impulse buys when you see a new yummy vegan snack, but it’s better for you and your wallet to treat yourself to treats. Now, we load up on fresh fruit, sliced veggies and hummus, salsa, or peanut butter, homemade popcorn, and even homemade crackers. If we’re craving cookies, we make a batch instead of buying them. If packaged foods (many of which are great options for when you’re in a pinch!) are truly a staple in your diet, try cutting back at first. Every grocery trip, try to cut out one packaged item.
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