It’s common to hear people bemoan processed foods as if they personally eat only raw vegetables and sup the dew from the morning’s grass. The reality is that so many of the foods we eat are processed, but we’d take a guess that people rail against processed vegan foods much more than they bang on about KFC. Are vegans held to a higher standard, we wonder? Do some people just take any opportunity to have a pop at veganism? Or do they really not know just how much of the food they eat every day is processed?
VFC Is Processed
This should not come as a surprise. It’s very hard to make a tasty vegan chick*n product out of unmilled, unflavoured, uncooked wheat. But then of course, the equivalent products made from chickens are processed too. If they weren’t you’d be handed a live chicken and sent on your way with a large knife, a bucket, and a toothpick to get the feathers out of your teeth.
We All Eat Processed Foods
Processing takes raw ingredients and makes them suitable for our consumption. Bread, pasta, rice, tinned foods, frozen foods, dried foods, breakfast cereals, tea, coffee, chocolate, baked goods, milk (dairy and plant), burgers, sausages, beer, wine, water and so much more are processed. And that means, almost every one of us eats processed foods every single day.
And yet, we never hear people complain about water companies processing our water. Or chocolate companies making tasty truffles. What about the pasta makers? Beer brewers? And we can’t help but wonder whether the sausage makers and bacon smokers ever get taken to task for their processed products. Because they really should. Processed meats cause cancer.
Processed Meats Cause Cancer
In 2015, the World Health Organization declared that processed meats are Group 1 carcinogens, and belong in the same category as asbestos and tobacco. They said that having reviewed the available scientific studies, there is ‘convincing evidence that [processed meat] causes cancer.’ Specifically, processed meat causes colorectal cancer, while an association with stomach cancer was also seen.
Processed meat is defined as any ‘meat that has been transformed through salting, curing, fermentation, smoking, or other processes to enhance flavour or improve preservation.’ This, therefore, includes sausages, hot dogs, ham, bacon, jerky, pepperoni, burgers, and yes, chicken nuggets.
On the other hand, there is no convincing evidence – or, in fact, any evidence at all – that processed vegan foods cause cancer. But are they healthy?
Eating Processed Vegan Foods Is Good for Us
Life is busy. Between juggling work, commuting, family commitments, domestic chores and our own interests, we have to find time to shop, cook and eat. For most of us, convenience foods allow us to achieve healthy nutrition because we can get a good source of nutrients easily and quickly. That’s why we all do it.
Just imagine if we boycotted all processed foods. We couldn’t make curries (no tinned tomatoes or coconut milk, and no rice to serve it with). We couldn’t make stews (beans have been dried or tinned; olive oil has been pressed.) We couldn’t make soup (no stock cubes) or a pie (no flour for pastry; no butter, vegan or otherwise). Pasta dishes are out. Pizza is out. We couldn’t even make dal (lentils have been dried.) What would we eat? The truth is, most of us need some processed foods.
Now, we’re not suggesting for a moment that we eat only processed foods, but that having some can be beneficial. If we pop a VFC fillet in the oven, we know that a good source of protein will be with us in 20 minutes, and while it’s cooking, we can create a large salad of tasty cooked and raw veg, grains, olives, nuts, seeds, herbs, sundried tomatoes and more. Or we can cook up a plate of veggies, and make a delicious tahini sauce to drizzle over the top. Part processed, part whole food.
Processed Foods for Kids
Most children are brought up eating meat and most are served processed meat products routinely throughout their childhood. Fast food restaurants are a treat for good behaviour and birthdays, while school canteens serve sausages, meaty pizzas, burgers, and nuggets at lunch, while similar foods are commonly offered at home in the evenings, too.
It’s all so normal, so why should children who are brought up not eating animals be held to a different standard? It’s not like their foods are sparking the next pandemic or driving climate breakdown. Cancer-causing properties aside, what makes a food more or less healthy is its nutritional value, so let’s take a look at Stompers versus Birdseye Chicken Dippers – a very similar product for kids but made from chickens.
Stompers Versus Birdseye Chicken Dippers Nutrition
|VFC Stompers||Birdseye Chicken Dippers|
|per 100g||per 100g|
|Calories||242 kcal||259 kcal|
So, Stompers have a good amount of protein but with fewer calories, half the saturated fat, and six times more fibre than Chicken Dippers. If you want to complain about fibre-lacking, saturated-fatty, processed foods that could cause cancer, the next pandemic and / or the end of antibiotics, give them a call. And, while you’re at it, you could call all the other processed meat manufacturers too.
We Love Kids…
…but we couldn’t eat a whole one. We’re joking, of course; we could eat a whole one but we wouldn’t. We are vegan, after all.
Let’s beat a hasty retreat from a classic joke back to the issue at hand: kids are brilliant. They naturally love animals, and have a keen sense of justice, fairness and doing the right thing. In fact, we believe that adults would really benefit from some life lessons from kids. And these amazing youngsters who don’t support factory farming and who want to do their bit to protect the planet should not be punished for doing a good thing, nor should they be deprived of all life’s pleasures. And so we made Stompers just for them. Our tasty chicken-free chick*n products are good for animals, better for the planet, loved by kids, and super convenient for you. And if you manage to wrangle some broccoli down the little darlings at the same time, you’re a parenting legend.