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Is Vegetarian Fast Food Healthy?

We’ve all heard the health benefits linked to plant-based lifestyles including a decreased risk of heart conditions, Type 2 diabetes, as well as obesity. Therefore, it only makes sense that vegetarian fast food options would be healthy for you … right?
According to the experts, this may not always be the case.

CNN reported that Sharon Palmer, author of Plant-Powered for Life and registered dietitian, recently chimed in on this topic stating that just because a fast food option states its vegan or vegetarian, it may not necessarily mean that its healthy as these items can contain as much, sometimes more, saturated fat, sodium, and calories as other fast food menu choices.

Which is understandable. While these fast food veggie/vegan items containing lots of vegetables and beans, plus whole grains, they can also hold some high-calorie condiments within, as well as large amounts of cheese; not only increasing calories, but sodium and saturated fats as well. In addition, if the veggie or vegan options are deep fried, and an individual adds fries to their meal; well, this can make for some highly unhealthy food. Not to mention the fact that the wraps, bread, and rice sometimes included in these meals are not the best for one’s health.

Taking McDonald’s for example: they offer their Veggie Grill Fala-Full sandwich that contains two pitas, pepperoncini, schug, hummus, and falafel, as well as a side of tabbouleh and tzatziki sauces. This option contains 1,100 calories, over a day’s worth of recommended sodium intake, and ten grams of saturated fat. Which happens to be twice the calories, double (and a half) the sodium, and an equal amount of saturated fat that their signature Big Mac offers.

On the other side of the spectrum, McDonald’s also has a Veggie Grill grilled ‘chickin’ option, that offers soybean, pea and wheat-based protein that stands at 530 calories, three grams of saturated fat, and 900 milligrams.

Not all vegan and veggie fast food meals are created equal. It’s all about looking at the nutrition numbers to ensure you are eating the healthiest meal possible.

Still, fast food, at the end of the day, is all about convenience and ‘treating’ yourself occasionally. These meals are not meant to be staples in anyone’s diet and whether you are a meat-eater or choosing a plant-based diet; treating yourself once in a while is the overall best option when it comes to fast food chains. Consumption should not take place on a regular basis.

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