Derek Sarno, Co-founder of Wicked Healthy and Good Catch Foods, responds to the recent backlash against vegan foods. Derek “calls BS” and says that it’s time for people to take responsibility for their own choices and their health. The views expressed here are that of the author and do not necessarily represent those of Tesco or Wicked Kitchen.
I’ve been seeing a lot of discussion
and complaints around plant-based products and how they need to be healthier. Here are some thoughts as we move forward into a plant-based future…
We all say we want to eat ‘healthy’, yet we usually don’t buy the healthiest option available. Only two or three short years ago, there were minimal vegan options compared to what we have today. Now we finally have some choice and with that increase in plant-based food available, suddenly complaints have swung to ‘there are too many unhealthy options’ and ‘you should be making products and meals to be healthy’.
I call BS! Gimme a break!
Do I think there are enough healthy plant-based options available?
“HEALTHY” FOODS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN AVAILABLE and still are! They’re sold in the form of produce, vegetables, potatoes, fruits, mushrooms, beans, greens, grains, nuts, seeds and water. They’re called whole foods and they’re all plant-based! But people are just too lazy to take the time to cook or learn to cook, most would rather just blame and point fingers than get off their asses and take responsibility and matters into their own hands.
You can ask yourself: “Am I a victim to what’s available or am I responsible for my own choices?”
Hats off to the long-time vegans and whole foodies who have been taking care of themselves while the world figures out that factory farming animals is not healthy for them, for us, or for the planet. They know how hard it’s been in the past to eat out and how little choice there has been in any grocer outside of the veg department.
What if you’re too busy to cook?
Even if you’re busy, and god knows we’re all just so busy, it’s important to cook at least a couple of times a week. This is why so many of us plant-based/vegan chefs share recipes and videos on how to do just that, cook. Do it yourself! It is not any one company’s job to ensure we eat healthy! It’s just not. Yes, chefs and developers can work on healthier options, and we do. But the truth of the matter is, those foods won’t have a long shelf life, they are naturally more expensive because most companies are used to doing what they’ve always done. The manufacturing animals and such processes need to change to meet vegan standards. And they are changing. The more we buy plant-based products the more investment goes into making them better and then they will become less expensive with scale.
Bottom line. You cook = you’re in control! And the least expensive way to eat is when you cook yourself. When you take the time to prepare meals, you’re more likely to eat it and enjoy it, spend less money, and not complain because you know exactly what you put in it.
Are plant-based processed products unhealthy?
Plant-based products are not made to be unhealthy – they are made to be meat alternatives. They are made to replace animal products as the more sustainable choice! It’s how you use them that makes them either healthy or unhealthy. When I develop a burger or sausage or any meat alternative, it is made to be part of a balanced diet, eaten with lots of vegetables, beans, and grains.
If you still eat animals and dairy and are trying to tell me plant-based products are unhealthy, take a seat. Eating animals is in no way healthier than eating veg, it’s not and I don’t need to be a doctor to know that. Taking a life, killing and eating it from mass factory farms is not an option, it’s horrible. People still eating animals should stop trying to defend their bad habits while continuing to eat and support this horrendous practice.
So how to eat healthy?
Eat lots of veg, as much as you can, no matter what else you eat with them, that’s what makes a healthy diet, healthy. That’s what mom always said growing up. Eat Your veg! It’s part of our 80/20 Wicked ethos. Focus on eating at least 80% whole foods (healthy) and 20% whatever it is you want (wicked).
Eating loads of VEG and the way you prepare them is key. Steaming over frying will always be healthier. This finger-pointing at what’s healthy and what’s not is really about individual choice. It’s pure laziness on people’s part. Especially from those already transitioned to eating more plant-based than animals. Take responsibility by preparing your own meals from scratch, no one is forcing anyone to live on extruded soy, pea or wheat proteins.
Vegan pizza isn’t healthy if you only eat pizza, nor is chocolate or anything fried or vegan ice cream, still, they are good once in a while!
Take responsibility for your health – own it!
Take ownership, take responsibility, take control of your own choices. No one is forcing anyone to eat or buy anything. Cigarettes are available too, that’s unhealthy!
For the majority of us, straight vegetables, beans, greens and grains are generally always available in some way, shape or form. They’re here for us to use, so use them.
Stop blaming and expecting companies to make some magic, minimally processed health food that is as cheap as chips. There is no all in one life-saving elixir. We already have the answer available and it’s sold in the form of whole foods grown and picked and are ready for you to use!
Derek Sarno, Chef – Director of Plant-Based Innovation for Tesco and the Developer/Co-Founder of Wicked Kitchen. Derek leads Tesco’s plant-based team and the initiative to bring delicious, unpretentious vegan foods to the mainstream market.
Prior to Tesco, Derek served as the Senior Global Executive Chef for Whole Foods Market, where he oversaw global recipe development for the company’s healthy eating initiative, worked with suppliers and leadership to develop and promote plant-based foods across the organization, and served as Culinary Director for the Whole Foods Academy for Conscious Leadership.
Derek is the co-author of the Whole Foods cookbook and the Wicked Healthy Cookbook.