Debating Vegan (again) Meet Artificial Colors.

dyeThe worries seem to abound when it comes to raising vegan/vegetarian kids. My parents are awesome and supportive of our choice to eliminate meat (and working on moving out animal products all together) but I know many families and friends who are not so understanding.

I get the “newness” of a lifestyle change, but what I don’t get is the lack of worry over the “traditional” diet. Do you know what’s in all that processed food? The GMOs even that are in alot of non-organic produce scares me!

There’s a study out now that links artificial dye to ADD, ADHD, allergies, and even asthma. (Source) When ADHD was first being diagnosed, I felt it was just a doctor-fad, where they had found out about this new disease and so they diagnosed it like mad, “seeing it” In many children that might not have really had ADD or ADHD (my sister was one such case, so I’m not just paranoid). Anyway, now that I have read more about processed foods and about artificial coloring in particular, I am starting to wonder if it isn’t just that doctors over-diagnose (although that happens) but maybe we as a society really are ignoring the health of our kids by buying convenience foods, making them susceptible to diseases they would not have to face if they ate better.

As it happens, in that study cited by Forbes, they talk about how the original intention with artificial colors was to replace toxic chemicals that occurred in the natural dye.

For centuries, people and companies used dyes derived from natural ingredients to color food. But many of these natural colors contained toxins such as mercury, copper and arsenic. Around the turn of the 20th century, scientists began formulating synthetic colors, derived from coal tar, to replace the existing toxic natural ones. Unfortunately, these synthetic alternatives have proven to have their own slew of problems (Living in Color: The Potential Dangers of Artificial Dyes Hannessy, August 2012).

When it comes to telling people what you think about artificial colors, they laugh at you. They act like you’re being a hippie, or a radical to question the norm. I’m just trying to be responsible about what goes into my mouth. As my husband pointed out to me today he said “You’ve always been concerned about what was healthy, but when you had a child, it sort of went into overdrive.” As someone who had to put down her own bowl of Fruit Loops upon learning about the potential carcinogenic nature of artificial dye, I am totally sympathetic to how overwhelming it feels to look at your kitchen and realize everything you bought on the last grocery run has a good reason to stop eating it. It likely does feel easier to just ignore how unhealthy something might be because it’s cheaper, let’s be real–maybe to you it tastes better–or it’s more “Comfort food.” But at what cost are we making these rationalizations?

For me, I am starting tomorrow morning with a plan. I am going to finish what’s in my pantry because I’ve already spent this week’s grocery budget and I’m not wasting that money. However, once it’s time to go buy groceries again, I’m going to buy organic, and real food. We are going to eat vegetarian to start, then we will transition to vegan as the milk runs out.

I am actually following the Almased diet right now (have any of you tried that?) It’s basically a natural protein meal replacement shake. After the almased runs out, I think I will replace with the juicing I did way back when. It was a lot of work to juice my own drinks, but you know I felt better? I had more energy for sure. I joined a vegetable cooperative that starts soon, so hopefully I’ll soon have a bounty of fruits and veggies to keep me motivated. What do you guys do when you want to eat “your old way” But you’ve decided to make a change? Is it really as simple as having discipline and self control (yeh, right) or do you have tips and suggestions to hold the course?



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