I write this today because I am a little angered about an acai bowl I had for lunch today.
If you don't know what it is, it is a Brazilian fruit-based bowl, that is kind of like a smoothie. The acai is supposedly super good for you- filled with antioxidants. You top the sorbet-acai with bananas, granola, cacao nibs, coconut or fresh fruits.
And, it's most often vegan. No dairy used.
But there is one BIG problem.
One Acai bowl can contain the amount of sugar equivalent to a 20-oz bottle of Coke.
Healthy?! I think not.
I don't think I'm alone when I say sometimes I fall into the "vegan myth". It goes like this, "It's healthy so I can have more of it! Yay!"
But, unfortunately the major culprit here is sugar, and some cases it may be excess fat.
A couple weeks ago, I had a beautiful breakfast/brunch plate of Avocado toast and a Turmeric Latte (I know very LA, but I was curious to try the Vegan thing). The restaurant I visited is always packed and serves delicious food. It was good.
But, the only thing was, that the $5 Latte was sugar-filled, and the Avocado toast was so packed with Avocado, it was almost too creamy (yes, too creamy- everything needs a balance!).
I get it, they are healthy ingredients. Pack in the avocado and the turmeric, but it is the excess that just doesn't make it all that healthy.
Of course it's not the restaurants' fault. They want to give you value, and they are the last people to give you health or nutrition advice.
I am more concerned about the guest who can get tricked to believe eating a whole avocado or sugar-filled latte is healthy, just because it's vegan.
It seems America, and even LA has a far way to go in terms of nutrition education. LA may ahead of the nation in it's nutrition, but it is, like many things in America, excess that brings us down.
I have to remind myself that the only way to get the most out a vegetarian or vegan diet is to be conscious of what I'm eating, and HOW MUCH. No one is going to do the portion sizing for you.
Just because it is a healthy ingredient, doesn't mean we should eat a lot of it. Like almost everything in life, it is a balance that keeps us healthy.
If eating something labeled vegetarian or vegan makes us eat more, it's not that healthy. I write this more to remind myself that labels mean less and less to me, and is certainly not a ticket to over-indulgence.
Because I overindulged on the acai bowl today and still feel bloated hours after. :(
Even if we decide to eat meat and dairy, in small amounts it is okay. We just need to adjust our day to eat more fruits and vegetables. Don't fall into the labeling trap of "Vegan" or "Vegetarian." Disregard labels and know what and how much you are eating.
In summary, take note of sugar and fat amounts in vegetarian or vegan foods, and quantity. Stay unprocessed and stick to homecooked meals as much as possible.