Veganism is rising in popularity as a diet that is good for your health, weight loss, and the environment. Naturally, there are many variations to a vegan diet and not everyone who eats vegan labels themselves the same way. One of the newest terms in the diet lexicon is "dirty vegan."
Maybe you heard the phrase on a vegan cook show or on social media. As the lifestyle becomes more prevalent, the market for this sort of thing will inevitably increase. Truthfully, all diets can have "dirty" versions. So what's up with this latest trend?
Origins of the Term Dirty Vegan
Before 2018, people like actress Lisa Rinna used the term "dirty vegan" to refer to people who stuck to a vegan diet but sometimes ate meat. She used the term to describe what many people call a "flexitarian" diet, which is a diet where you eat mostly vegetarian with some variation.
In 2018 and 2019, the connotation of the phrase changed when some United Kingdom restaurants began making "comfort" vegan food. This comfort food includes:
In 2019, BBC created a vegan cooking show called Dirty Vegan, where chef Matt Pritchard creates flavorful animal-free meals. The episodes follow his as he cooks for a women's rugby team, makes breakfast for students, and shares different recipes on his website.
Today, many fast food places and restaurants are embracing the idea of dirty vegan food. On this diet, you can get away with eating pizza, fries, or a fried chicken sandwich as long as the ingredients are free of animal products.
The meal options tend to have meat alternatives. A person can dress up beans, tofu, and other vegetables in ways that resemble steak, ribs, and ever seafood.
Is it Healthy?
The short answer is not really. Cutting animal products out of your diet has plenty of health benefits. According to Dr. Melanie Boehmer, a vegan diet "can be a nutrition bomb in the best way."
However, you never want to rely on heavily processed food for your nutrients. The processed soy and seitan used on vegan cooking shows are not necessarily nutritious. A balanced meal that includes poultry or dairy would be better for you than a plate full of faux cheese and dairy-free cookies.
Dr. Boehmer challenges people who want to be vegans to ask themselves why. There are plenty of ways to make protein-packed food that tastes great without trying to mimic meat flavors. A healthy vegan diet is one with a variety of plant-based, whole foods. (1)
How Should You Go Vegan?
The way you go vegan depends on your goals. If you have a passion for the environment and want to stop consuming meats, you should explore nutritious options. Consider getting a cookbook or searching for a recipe online.
If you love meat dishes but want to begin eating healthier, start by making small swaps. Replace the beef on your plate with a salad. Or, you can gradually increase the number of vegan meals you eat each week. There is an array of things you can do to get started.
No matter your reasons or approach, make sure you get the vitamins your body needs. Successful vegans and vegetarians know how to balance their foods and eat a variety of veggies, grains, and fruits.
In addition to that thought, you can watch one of the many vegan cook shows for inspiration. You'll surely be able to find an example grocery store shopping list and other information you can use on your journey. Just know that being vegan does not mean you have to sacrifice taste.
Struggling to grocery shop? Browse our list of vegan meal services that deliver to your door.
Dirty Vegan Lifestyle - Final Thoughts
If you come across someone who identifies as a dirty vegan, they could mean they sometimes eat meat and eggs. Or, they could be referring to a recent food trend dedicated to creating vegan-friendly treats. Dirty vegans can eat judgement-free pasta and desserts with the ability to not feel a sense of failure with their diet.
But, as with anything nice in life, you want to use this option in moderation. If you're going plant-based, it is important to make the effort to do so with your health in mind. Anyone with experience will tell you - just because a dish is vegan, that doesn't mean it's your healthiest choice.
- Norris, J., & Messina, V. (2011). Vegan for life: Everything you need to know to be healthy and fit on a plant-based diet. Da Capo Lifelong Books.