There Is More Than One Way to Be a Dirty Vegan

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People continue to find ways to create new versions of already-existing diets. For example, the high-fat keto diet includes Dirty Keto, Lazy Keto, and Clean Keto—just to name a few. And now, there’s a plant-based vegan diet called Dirty Vegan.

The vegan diet excludes all animal products from your diet: seafood, eggs, dairy, meat, and poultry. However, some vegans also refrain from table sugar, which is sometimes processed with bone char.

The vegan diet is fairly restrictive and is considered a lifestyle for many followers, says Melanie Boehmer, R.D. at Lenox Hill Hospital.

So, what exactly is the Dirty Vegan Diet?

The term refers to two variations of the plant-based diet, according to Boehmer. The first refers to mainly processed foods that mimic animal-based meals. For example, pepperoni and cheese pizza, buffalo wings, and fried chicken could be deemed “dirty vegan” foods.

The phrase is also used as a name for people who sometimes eat animal products. Actress Lisa Rinna popularized this term during an interview with People magazine.

“I tend to call myself a dirty vegan. I’m mostly plant-based — but if I do need to eat some meat, I’ll have it,” Rinna told the outlet.

Should you try the Dirty Vegan Diet?

Probably not—if we’re talking about a diet high in vegan cookies, fried foods, and fake meats.

“I wouldn’t advise having heavily processed food—period,” says Boehmer.

She recommends asking yourself—without judgement—why you prefer vegan products dressed up as animal-based dishes. This can help you uncover your true desires for adopting the approach, she says. For example, maybe you love steak but want to eat less animal products for environmental reasons. If that’s you, be sure to eat a wide variety of whole foods to make sure you’re getting enough nutrients.

Or maybe you’re following a vegan diet because you think it helps with weight loss. If that’s the case, it’s possible to reach your goals without restricting any foods.

Before switching up your diet, Boehmer suggests thinking about why you want to go vegan.

“You have the ability to make this beautiful plate full of flavors and colors [on the vegan diet]. It can be a nutrition bomb in the best way,” she says.

That said, occasionally foregoing animal products can be a good option if you’re not replacing well-balanced meals with less nutritious options.

For example, a grilled chicken sandwich on whole wheat is perfectly healthy. Replacing that with a plate of deep fried faux cheese may not be the best idea.

What’s the best way to go vegan?

People who live for steak and burgers may want to start by eating one plant-based meal a week, says Boehmer.

Think about your favorite recipes and how to make simple swaps. If your typical dinner includes steak, potatoes, and asparagus, simply replace the beef. Boehmer suggests adding a side salad that includes seasonal vegetables and a healthy fat. Or, try a bean-based pasta for a boost of protein.

She recommends avoiding complicated recipes, which provide a barrier to success.

“If you make this easy for yourself, then it’s going to be easy,” says Boehmer.

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