Have you heard about the new trans fat ban? Since 2006, the FDA has required that foods containing trans fats be clearly labeled, but this year the committee is determining the length of a phase-out plan that will take them off the market forever.
According to the Huffington Post, this ban was proposed 9 years ago! With over 15 years of research, the evidence against trans fats is very disturbing. While they are going out of style fast, they are not gone yet and they are present in some foods that are technically vegan. It’s a good time to consider where our fats come from, since not all are created equally. We have never used trans fats, but we thought that this was an opportunity to discuss the wonderful world of delicious, healthy vegan fats!
At the bakery, we occasionally receive two very different responses from curious new customers, and they are both illuminating about cultural conceptions around fat, as well as towards veganism. “Oh my God, if I worked here, I’d be XXX pounds and would never stop eating.” Or, “These are vegan? Does that mean they’re low-fat?” There’s a lot to unpack around these statements–we live in a society with a myriad of health problems, weight problems, endless dieting, and body shaming. We feel that healthy bodies come in a variety of shapes, and that a vegan diet with a healthy dose of self-love, the occasional indulgence, and a sense of moderation can be part of a solution to these problems. None of us could eat a dozen cupcakes (sadly, no, they are not low-fat) every day and feel fantastic–we need to access the full spectrum of nutrients available to us in fruits, vegetables, grains, seeds, nuts, beans, and oils in order to feel our best. Fats contain the highest density of calories and have effects that can become negative when we over-utilize them. Bodies and diets even within veganism vary from person to person, but generally 20%-35% of our calories each day should come from fat (World Health Organization). Fat is necessary for basic cell functions and regenerations, the digestion of vitamins and minerals, keeping us warm, and in some cases, keeping us happy! Mmm, avocado…
The lovely part about fat in a balanced vegan diet is that many nuts, seeds, and some oils naturally contain mono- and polyunsaturated fats, which have positive effects on cholesterol levels, heart health, diabetes prevention, and blood pressure. They contain the much praised Omega-3’s, Omega-6’s, and ALA. Saturated fats, found in palm oil and coconut products, should be used in moderation. Other non-essential but helpful fats are DHA and EPA, which are typically touted in traditional diets through fish and fish oil supplements. However, even beyond ethical or environmental reasons for not eating fish, fatty fish are highly contaminated with pollutants and mercury–ick! Both DHA and EPA supplements can be found in vegan form through a health food store or online.
For practical purposes, we have to say that we are not medical professionals–this is simply sharing our knowledge! Bakery favorites for fat include hemp seeds, flax seeds, nut butters, avocado, olive oil, and of course, the a brownie here and there!
Here are some of our book recommendations for further reading on diet and fats:
Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina
Vegan for Life by Jack Norris and Virginia Messina
The Thrive Diet by Brendan Brazier