What It Really Means To Be On The 'Junk-Food Vegan' Diet

Milkshakes. Pizza. Buffalo wings. Hot dogs. Generally speaking, we know that ultra-processed, high-calorie, high-fat, high-sugar snacks like this aren't exactly healthy options. But what about if you're eating a vegan pizza, drinking a vegan milkshake, or snacking on soy-based vegan Buffalo wings or hot dogs? Unfortunately, the word vegan has developed a health halo around it, but it's important to remember that just because a food is made without animal products or byproducts, that doesn't make it healthy. 

In fact, there are many vegans who eat a diet that's made up of almost entirely ultra-processed foods. Oreos are vegan, as is soda. If your goal is health or weight loss, a diet like this isn't going to be the right solution, even though it excludes animal products. "I wouldn't advise having heavily processed food — period," dietitian Melanie Boehmer, R.D., told Men's Health. Rather, she suggests shifting to whole foods that avoid animal-based products. "You have the ability to make this beautiful plate full of flavors and colors [on the vegan diet]. It can be a nutrition bomb in the best way," she adds.

Why is the junk food vegan diet bad?

Also known as a dirty vegan diet, being a junk food vegan isn't too different from eating fast food for every meal — and it may even include more hard-to-pronounce ingredients. With the rise of plant-based burgers, sausages, fish, and pretty much any baked good or faux dairy product you can think of becoming more widely available, it's never been easier to avoid vegetables altogether while eating a strict vegan diet (via Healthline).

"Obviously the pros are that [veganism] is getting people to think about plant-based foods, but the con is that it makes us think that it is good for you when it can be equally or more unhealthy," dietitian Megan Rossi told the BBC.

Of course, a vegan diet can be an extremely healthy one, but it does require some work to ensure that you're getting the right mix of macro and micronutrients, eating enough calories, and — as the junk food vegan diet has taught us — making sure that you're not assuming that because something is labeled vegan that it is automatically a healthier option. Remember, even Oreos are technically vegan.