Vegan Is Vague, Here’s Why…
There’s levels to this.
When you hear the word “vegan,” what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?
A radical PETA activist?
A “holier than thou” health nut?
Someone who only eats salad and “rabbit food”?
Someone who’s really skinny and frail?
A white person?
These are some common stereotypes that I hear about vegans, and people look at me sideways when I say I’m [90%] vegan because I don’t fit any of these categories.
Saying “I’m vegan,” is like me saying “I’m African.” Both titles have monolithic viewpoints from society, yet both have many sub-groups. There are many different types of vegan diets just like there’s many languages, ethnicities, and tribes on the African continent (and sometimes, there’s a mix). Let’s go through some common vegan diets:
Plant Based Vegan
This basically describes a vegan who only eats plant based sources (sometimes this may include soy, depending on how you view it). Plant based eaters abstain from processed junk food.
A raw vegan diet eliminates animal products and vegan foods that are cooked at a temperature above 118 degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees Celsius). Their diet primarily consists of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds (and nut/seed butter), grain and legume sprouts, and herbs. Many raw vegans do eat fruit based diets; however raw vegans who only consume raw fruits can be classified as a fruitarian.
Raw Till 4 [or whenever] Vegan
This term was coined by popular You-Tuber, Freelee the Banana Girl. This diet is also heavy on raw foods (especially fruits). They are consumed until 4:00PM (or dinner), where one eats a cooked (typically low-fat) plant based meal.
This term became popular from popular health practitioner Dr. Sebi, meaning a vegan diet that abstains from hybrid and processed (i.e. acidic) vegan foods. This particular diet is a bit controversial because there is a lot of debate on what foods are alkaline, if eating 100% alkaline is beneficial, or whether it’s all pseudoscience.
Paleo Vegan (i.e. Gluten Free)
The paleo vegan is pretty much the same concepts as the regular paleo diet, but without meat and other animal products, so essentially, it’s a gluten free vegan diet.
High Carb, Low Fat Vegan (HCLF)
This type of vegan diet has been recommended by health professionals like Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and Dr. John McDougall. The diet is exactly how it sounds: a plant based vegan diet that is high in carbohydrates and low in fat.
So, Which Diet Is Better?
Outside of the ones who consume a lot of processed junk food, it’s all relative, to be honest. Each vegan subgroup makes a case as to why their preferred diet is “better” than the others. In reality, there’s many variables on determining the “best” diet. Most it comes down to what makes your body feel the best.
I personally don’t fit any of these categories 100%. My diet more so changes when the seasons do. In the warm months, I do a lot of cardio; I tend to eat a lot more raw food throughout the day because it digests quicker. Because of this, I could closely fit under the raw till 4, high carb low fat category. In the cold months, I do a lot of strength training and crave more “comfort” food. I may eat less fruit (plus produce more expensive in North American winters) and opt for more cooked carbs, plus I’ll eat more fat and protein sources like avocados, nuts, seeds, and beans. Many days, it’s a mix of everything. Every now and then, I eat my favorite junk food. Every now and then, I dine out, so I automatically assume there’s a good chance I’ll consume something with milk, egg, and/or butter in it because nobody really knows what the chef puts in the food. While some self proclaimed vegans won’t admit those mistakes, I have no problem owning up to it because this isn’t something I consume on a regular basis.
For plant based newbies, I suggest you test out different types of diets and determine what’s work well with your body. Some people may have zero desire to ever go vegan or vegetarian, that’s okay (Yes, contrary to popular belief on the internet, many vegans/vegetarians really don’t care if you eat meat). I still think you should try out different types of diets and see how your body reacts and then adjust from there.
What are your thoughts? Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below!
Find out how I stay plant-based when out and about plus delicious recipes here.