With the number of vegans increasing all over the world, more fast food restaurants are adding vegetarian/vegan foods to their menus. This can be great even if you aren’t following those lifestyles but want more nutritious fast foods when you’re in a hurry. The catch: although the foods are delicious, it doesn’t always mean they’re healthy for you.
Those non-meat vegan patties sure do look yummy, but be careful with processed foods. Faux meat options often contain a large amount of additives, sugar and preservatives. If you want to indulge in vegan ‘meat’ once in a while, you can but don’t make it a habit. Rather fry your own faux meat at home where you aren’t adding any extra unhealthy ingredients to it. A recent study found that veggie burgers often contain lots of salt, with many from popular fast food restaurants containing over 1,000mg of sodium. This is almost half of your daily recommended amount.
If you’re vegan and out at a fast food restaurant, chances are you reach for French fries because they seem to be the easiest and safest non-meat option. But sometimes this isn’t the case. The oil used to fry meat could be used for your potatoes. French fries might also contain unhealthy ingredients. These include TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone), a powerful preservative that has been linked to DNA damage and cancer in animal studies. You might also find sugar in your fries under the label ‘dextrose’ – this gives your fries a blast of sweetness and replaces any sugar that was removed when they were blanched or pre-cooked.
Think pizza is healthy? Maybe not so much. The crust can be problematic from a health standpoint because it’s filled with gluten, refined grains and yeast that can cause the bacteria in your gut to swing out of balance. As for the cheese substitute, vegan cheese often makes use of soy. Soy isn’t really good for you. It contains high quantities of compounds called goitrogens that prevent the thyroid gland from using thyroid hormones properly. Soy isn’t great for the environment, either. It steals nutrients from the soil and most of the soy production in the world contains genetically modified ingredients.
What can be more delicious than a wrap filled with veggies and hummus? Since they contain vegetables, that immediately makes these wraps healthy but be sure to monitor what’s inside as well as their size. If you’ve got a 12-inch tortilla wrap, that’s already lumping approximately 350 calories before it’s even filled, so watch the calories. In such a case, it can be a good idea to eat half and then save the rest for a later meal. High calories sometimes sneak their way into health foods, so it’s always good to stay informed.
Image credit: Arman Zhenikeyev / Dollar Photo Club