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It’s easy to forget that EVERY aspect of our lives these days is affected by the latest fashions, not just the clothes we wear. And, while we may not want to admit it, it’s often driven more by financial considerations – profits – than anything else… 
 
One aspect of this, that’s become increasingly obvious over the last few years, can be seen at your local supermarket or convenience shop. The huge increase in ready meals and processed foods badged as being “plant based”, “Vegetarian” or “Vegan.” 
 
 
The message behind these foods is quite simple. A plant based diet is the healthier option AND these products are an easy way to achieve this. Unfortunately, as so often is the case, it’s not quite that simple. 
 
True, a diet high in FRESH plant foods – vegetables, salad and fruit as well as seeds, nuts, beans and pulses – is a healthier option as far as our bodies are concerned. 
 
And false, a processed food is a processed food, regardless of what it’s made from OR what it says on the packaging (!). Quite simply, it’s not what our bodies were designed to thrive on and is driven more by cost and convenience that anything else. We’ve written before about the hidden dangers of processed and ultra processed foods, which can be found here
 
However, there’s another aspect of these foods that we’d like to talk about today. It’s that these plant based – but highly processed – foods provide similar nutrition to their meat based alternatives. And, just to confuse consumers further, they’re often badged as being the “Vegetarian” or “Vegan” equivalent of milk, cheese, chicken, bacon, sausages and more. 
 
At first sight, they may look very similar. Have a similar smell and “mouth feel.” But, look at the ingredients label, and you’ll notice the difference straight away. They are very different products, made of very different ingredients, which have undergone processing – usually a lot – to produce the end product. 
 
While it may be an inconvenient fact, plant and animal based foods are, by their very nature, quite different and no amount of processing and clever marketing can change that. 
 
Which brings us on to the next food related “fashion”, one that’s already being hyped in the mainstream media. Insect based protein. Again, the marketing is very clever. That it’s been eaten in many countries for centuries. Is cheap to produce and provides a good source of protein. And, while this may be true to a certain extent, once again, it’s far from providing the complete picture. 
 
True, insects – or more often their grubs – have been eaten for centuries in some countries, but not as the main part of a diet. 
 
True, they may be cheap to produce, but there’s also a significant environmental cost to this method of food production. Afterall, the insects are being produced intensively on an ongoing basis in very different conditions – and in much greater numbers – than would occur naturally in the wild. 
 
However, this glosses over a major downside of insect based protein. The human Digestive System simply isn’t designed to handle food high in chitin – the protein that makes up the hard parts of an insect’s external skeleton – and main source of protein adult insects contain. It’s then not surprising that chitin has also been found to trigger an immune system response similar to that for food allergies. 
 
Again and again, research shows that traditionally produced foods – whether plant or animal based – in their natural form are what our bodies need to thrive. In other words, animals kept outside and fed on a natural, grass based diet. Fish living in their natural water environment, whether fresh or salt water. Plants, produced by organic and regenerative methods. 
 
While, at first sight, this may seem to be a more costly and, for animals, a much slower method – as they take longer to mature and be ready for market this way – the improved nutrition means that smaller amounts of food are needed to provide the nutrition our bodies require. But it doesn’t stop there. Traditionally food was produced on an integrated basis, with plants and animals, working with nature rather than against it. 
 
So, there are no prizes for guessing where we’re going with this (!). There’s only one way to be 100% sure of what you’re eating. To buy the whole foods yourself – if possible, producing what you can at home – and then cooking them yourself in your own kitchen. 
 
And, if you think you don’t have enough room to do this – or it sounds like too much work (!) – then have a look at some of the wonderful blogs and resources on the internet. It’s amazing just how much food can be produced at home with a little imagination and ingenuity. With any surpluses easily stored in your trusty freezer for the winter months. And how quickly and easily meals can be produced at home, often in less time than it takes to heat up a ready meal in the oven. 
 
As always, the choice is yours. 
 
 
 
Picture by unknown author 
 
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