Vegan is not code for healthy
There is a common misconception that if a meal is vegan or gluten-free, it’s healthier than a dish containing glutinous carbs and lashing of cheese.
After all, gluten and dairy are fattening, right? Not necessarily.
Just because food doesn’t contain any animal products, that doesn’t make it healthy. In fact, there are plenty of vegan junk food options that are just as calorific and sugary as non-vegan food.
Of course, you can make deliciously nourishing and healthy plant-based meals - think buddha bowls of warming grains topped with veggies, nuts, avocado and pulses.
But don’t be fooled into thinking that choosing a dish in a restaurant purely because it’s vegan means you’re making a healthy choice.
A nutritionist has now revealed which vegan dishes on high street menus are actually not super great for you and thus probably shouldn’t be consumed too often if you’re trying to lose fat.
At Zizzi, the vegan lentil ragu contains 610 calories compared to the 508 in their spaghetti bolognese.
“Lentils are lower in fat than even lean red meat but it is likely the chef added extra oil to create a comparable texture and flavour,” nutritionist Amanda Ursell told The Sun.
On Wagamama’s new vegan menu, the yasai itame comes in at 842 calories, whereas the chicken itame is a little less at 820.
According to Ursell, the slight difference is probably due to the tofu being fried.
The nutritionist then looked at Pizza Express, concluding that the 825 calorie vegan giardiniera classic pizza wasn’t necessarily better than the classic margherita, at 729 calories.
“Extra quantities of vegan mozzarella and swirls of garlic oil are the likely sources of calories,” she explained.
At Gourmet Burger Kitchen, the vegan burger is actually higher in calories than the veggie one, with 598 calories compared to 485.
Of course, health isn’t all about calories.
Being healthy is all about balance and a lot of nutritionists and fitness experts follow the 80/20 rule - eating healthily 80 per cent of the time and having what you want the remaining 20 per cent. So there’s nothing wrong with enjoying these meals, just know that “vegan” isn’t code for “healthy”.