Cutting to the chase...
While veganism can be a really healthy way to live, there’s plenty of room for vegan junk food to sneak in when dietary requirements focus only on what’s excluded (i.e. animal products). America’s beloved Oreos are technically vegan! But they’re hardly good for you. How the heck are Oreos vegan and what can health-conscious vegans treat themselves to instead? Keep reading to get the scoop.
Vegans are often associated with good health. And it’s no wonder; without meat, dairy, eggs, or other animal products, veganism can reduce risks for a host of animal-product related health issues (including heart disease and certain cancers). Not to mention, eating this way can protect the environment! That said, not all vegan food equates to “health food.”
Let’s talk about vegan junk food.
Did you know some of the most big-name soda drinks are vegan? It’s true. Mountain Dew, Pepsi, Coke, Sprite… no animal products in sight. But they’re certainly not what we’d call nutritious. Soda drinks have been linked to type two diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions.
Many processed foods, vegan-friendly or not, are junk, plain and simple. Refined carbs, processed cheese, and milk substitutes, candy (so many different kinds of sugar-filled candy), all fit the *vegan bill - including Oreos.
*Is non-organic sugar vegan? Let's dig deep: Non-organic sugar in the United States is often processed with bone char, making them officially not vegan. This is not common knowledge, so many people do not consider non-organic sugar as using animal products.
History of Oreos
Oreos first came out in 1912, and back then, they definitely weren’t vegan. The creme filling used to be made out of lard, and for a long time, Oreos also contained dairy-derived whey powder. In the mid-1990s, Nabisco was prompted to change the lard to partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. In 2006, the partially hydrogenated vegetable oil was then replaced with non-hydrogenated vegetable oil. In 2013 the whey powder was removed, and finally, in 2014, Oreos were vegan in the US.
So, it looks like Nabisco has been making an effort to veganize (that’s a word, right?) their most popular cookie. Of course, Oreo’s slogan: “Milk’s favorite cookie” suggests a different story.
But despite the image of a cookie splashing into a cup of milk on the package, Oreos are in fact vegan -- vegan junk food! There are a ton of B.S. (Bad Stuff) ingredients that go into making Oreos, but none of them come from animals.
And although the Oreo webpage warns that there might be some dairy cross contact during the production process — as far as the ingredients are concerned — the cookies are vegan. But that doesn’t mean that they fit into a healthy dietary lifestyle.
Whole Food Plant-Based tells a more complete story
This is one reason why at MamaSezz we promote a whole food plant-based (WFPB) diet. WFPB is vegan AND healthy. Where veganism ends (avoiding animal products), WFPB keeps going. It starts with not eating animals foods and then goes on to focus on whole foods (meaning not processed) that are high-nutrient such as whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes. It means cutting out processed or refined foods that can negatively impact our health — like Oreos.
Oreos are made with refined flour, processed sugar, corn syrup, and *palm and canola oil -- none of which fits with the WFPB diet or a healthy lifestyle. And the same can be said for sodas and candy. If you want to enjoy maximum health benefits, WFPB is the way to go.
*Is palm oil vegan? Palm oil is often considered non-vegan because the harvesting of palm oil requires the destruction of orangoutang habitats.
WFPB gives folks a more accurate, complete set of guidelines to help achieve optimal nutrition as it focuses not just on what to exclude from your diet, but also what healthy foods to add to your plate. To learn more about the whole food plant-based diet, check out the Mamasezz beginner’s guide.
And for those Oreo lovers looking to make the leap to WFPB: don’t despair! There are plenty of ways to satiate that sweet tooth, without the B.S. (Bad Stuff). Try these 10 plant-based dessert recipes. (Seriously, the Chocolate Peanut Butter Shake will make you forget all about Oreos).
Don’t want to whip something up yourself? No worries! Our Sweet Treat Cookies are refined sugar-free and absolutely scrumptious. Even better, we deliver them to your door ready-for-snacking!
- Oreos ARE technically vegan but they’re not whole food plant-based (or healthy!).
- Whole food plant-based is a healthier take on veganism.
- A WFPB lifestyle doesn’t just exclude animal products; it doesn’t include processed ingredients and promotes adding these healthy plant-based foods to your plate instead.
- You can still have dessert on a whole food plant-based diet. (Whew!)