Junk Food Is Bad For You – Vegan or Otherwise

Surprise, surprise... Junk food is bad for you. Back in January, the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reported that just one high-fat, high-sugar meal can trigger a biochemical cascade, causing inflammation of blood vessels and immediate, detrimental changes to the nervous system. The good news is that just one healthy meal helps return your body to its optimal state. (Source: One Meal to Good (or Bad) Health)

Most people are aware that there are long term implications involved in their dietary choices. What isn't generally known is that there are short-term implications to your health as well, which is why you typically feel bad after a junk-food fest. However, if your diet consists of a lot of junk food, you may not experience that ill-feeling.

Junk food distorts a person's hormonal profile, says O'Keefe.

Studies suggest that fatty, sugary foods promote excretion of the stress hormone cortisol, which seems to further stimulate appetite for calorie-dense foods. And the big post-meal spikes in blood sugar are more likely in people who don't exercise or those who carry weight around their abdomen. All of it makes it tough for people to stop eating junk food once they're in the habit. "The more you eat it the more you crave it. It becomes a vicious cycle."

"Your health and vigor, at a very basic level, are as good as your last meal," says lead author James O'Keefe, head of preventive cardiology at the Mid America Heart Institute in Kansas City, Mo.

When Jane and I first went vegan, we found ourselves in a place where we didn't really know what we could eat, so most of our meals were steamed veggies with tofu and a salad; or lentil soup with a crusty bread and salad... Traditional vegan fare. Our meals were comprised of things that were closer to whole foods, than processed foods. As we've become more comfortable with what ingredient are permissible , we find our diet has started to include items that might be problematic (see Jane's addiction). And while there's room for some junk food in a vegan diet, we find ourselves at the precipice of a slippery slope. Jane's buying a bag or two of Snappea Crisps every week, and I've developed an addiction to her brownies. Summer is almost here. Our farmers markets are full to overflowing every week. It's time to get a-hold of ourselves before things get out of hand! Vegan diet doesn't necessarily mean healthy diet.


  1. I found your site on google blog search and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. Just added your RSS feed to my feed reader. Look forward to reading more from you.

    Karen Halls

  2. Wow. Very deja vu-like.

    I think many vegan diets evolve similarly…better all the time, I think.

    There is nothing like a glob of organic nut butter on a scrumptious cookie or muffin: definitely superior to any barely digestible tofu-leafy green salad, and just as healthy as steamed greens and various legumes.

    I would not worry, but rather, continue progressing toward a more impulsive diet.

    Good luck.

  3. You know I must admit that junk food is my weakness. However I have learned to use all natural sweeteners like stevia and agave nectar and make my own bars, cookies, cakes, etc.

    I also keep a lot of fruit and make a lot of smoothies because they help me when I have a sweet craving.

    Much better than the store bought stuff.

  4. so much about balance when trying to make healthy eating decisions. I do love my sweets + carbs……easy for me to stay away from all that overprocessed stuff, but there’s always the sugar!

    Thanks for bringing up insightful topic mattr!

  5. It’s a weird kind of equality we’ve achieved. Now that vegan baking and vegan ice cream are on a par, taste-wise, with their non-vegan counterparts, and there are vegan versions of glazed donuts, marshmallows, chocolate peanut butter cups, nonpareils…vegans can be as unhealthy as the rest of the country! 🙂

  6. I know so many bvegans who are chubby and I think it is carb overload. Not enough whole foods so they gorge on carbs which quickly convert to fat. Their body thinks it needs more fuel so it craves glucose. The think vegans ar the whole food eaters. No chips, sugars, etc… They eat food, not food-like things.

  7. Yo dudes, My sis has the same problem. Rents have brought us up vegan. Now that she’s at college she’s eating all that crap. She’s porking out – on VEGAN food. hehe.

  8. Temptation Vegan Ice cream – Chicago Soydairy more generally – is the bane of my existence.

    Oh…I didn’t mean that! Yes! I did. No! I love Temptation Peach Cobbler! And Mint…Too much sugar!

    You see, it’s my addiction talking, not my mind 🙂

  9. Hi Paul,
    Thanks for the encouragement… but the impulsive diet is leading me down the wrong path.
    Hi La Tara,
    Yes, junk food is tough to pass by, for most of us! Jane makes a lot of the “junk” food we’ve been eating lately, so I feel better about eating it, but that’s part of the problem too. Tonight we just had strawberries and blueberries and cantaloupe for dessert.
    We do the smoothie thing too, in the summer… usually strawberries, a bit of lemon juice, ice and sweetener

    Hi Taste Memory,
    All that sugar is, unfortunately, what draws us in… Consider yourself lucky that you aren’t drawn to that. But you’re right, it is all about balance.

    Hi Gary,
    Hooray for equality? On the other hand, that equality is also making “vegan” more accessible to more people. Ultimately, I guess we need to remember that the major food manufacturers are interested in making money, and we need to bear that in mind when we’re making our food selections.

    Hi Autumn,
    Well, that makes sense. — that the thin vegans you know are the ones who eat closer to whole foods. The prepackaged stuff usually has tons of calories. It’s just nice to have convenient options.

    Hey Prashant,
    Well, if she’s vegan, she can’t really be “porking” out, can she! Perhaps pumkin-ing out? But you should be nice to her. Weight is such an issue, especially for girls. She’s probably aware that she’s gained weight, and may even be distressed about the situation. Compassion is a great thing to extend to others.

    Hi Alex,
    Or should I say, hi Alex’s addiction!

    Hi Kara,
    Do you eat them straight out of the bag like Jane does? Or do you actually use them in some kind of dessert?

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