Don’t Be what you eat

French Version

I do not see myself as a big consumer of junk food, but I have to admit, as a millennial and a real product of my time,  I’d rather go to mac-do for a burger instead of cooking. Because at mac-do you’ll find a burger, fries, nuggets, and a drink in a 5 bucks menu that will keep you full for 2 hours. And this is a deal way too attractive for us to deprive ourselves of it .

However, aside from its practical side, the excessive consumption of Junk Food has disastrous consequences on our body. A study by a group of British experts “Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition” reveals that junk food would be much more harmful to our health than smoking, alcohol and sex combined.

Before explaining the experience that I am going to share with you, it is important to define certain expressions. According to the ‘Futura santé’ magazine, the expression ‘junk food’ which appeared with the consumerist society means a food considered bad, both from a dietary and sanitary point of view. These foods that are found most often in fast food (and yes, your favorite kebab is no exception) are known to have low nutritional value, are rich in fats, sugars and / or salt. The term may also include food preparations that are always richer in additives (flavor enhancers, stabilizers, food flavorings, etc.) and that are poor in basic elements.

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Therefore, junk food consumption in the long run is often linked to diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and so on. But, some researchers go further. Indeed, even in the short term, the consumption of fast food  can cause lethargy, heaviness of mind and greed. In addition, some of the ingredients used are cancerous, such as acrylamide found in chips and fries. However, the biggest scam would definitely go to the  products that are labeled as “light” (Coca light, pepsi light and others). These dreams that they are selling to us under the pretext that their consumption could help us stay in shape or even better, lose weight and feel better about ourselves (long live advertising!), While studies show that these products for the most part contain aspartame: a chemical whose consumption leads to side effects such as headaches, migraines, dizziness, stroke, nausea, numbness, muscle spasms, skin irritation, depression, fatigue, irritability, tachycardia, insomnia, sight problems, hearing loss, heart palpitations, breathing difficulties, anxiety attacks, slurred speech, loss of taste, iron taste, dizziness, memory loss and joint pain, in addition to weight gain.

Is Junk Food the end of everything ?

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So at this stage of the article, you want to give up everything. You are wondering what’s left for us to eat? And if it’s worth even trying? Basically, you are starting to hate the world. But do not worry. It’s normal. At least for me, because that’s how I felt after doing my researches. But instead of dropping everything, I decided to become Vegan. For a week, because I have always been hostile to long-term commitments.

For those who don’t know what is veganism, it is basically adopting a plant based diet. Which means elimination of meat, fish, egg, milk, but also the increase or even the only consumption of organic products. That means eating fruits and replacing all the process foods by fresh products. You get me, the ideal would be to produce everything yourself, in your garden. But it’s a luxury that you can not afford. Veganism is a way of life. It is an alternative. However is veganism really an option? My challenge was to see if it was possible to combine veganism with a city lifestyle. To be able to work, to have a family life but also to find the time to have a healthy diet. Allow yourself a social life without depriving yourself. And to finish the malnutrition is it the easy option or the unique option?

The 7 days vegan challenge 

The stakes were high. The youTubers could show how easy it was, although I read bloggers, I knew that being vegan was not easy. And nobody could convince me otherwise. But psychologically I was prepared. And in my mind, that was the most important. Of course, history will prove me right. I did not want to go on any drastic change. The challenge was to incorporate veganism into my daily life, not the opposite. And in my daily life I leave home at 8 in the morning and usually return back at 8 in the evening. In my day-to-day life, I work during the day, and usually bring work home at night so I would not be overwhelmed the next day. In my daily life, I don’t have the patience, the time, or even the desire to concoct small dishes. I am a true product of my century. However, I was there, I was determined to reach  my goal and I had a budget of 50 euros.

The first 2 days were the hardest. But I learned a few small lessons from this experience. The first lesson is that I can live without meat. Although I already knew it, having been a vegetarian for a while, I had forgotten that meat could not be missed if we decided to live without it for a while. And yes, eating meat is like taking sugar. The more we take, the more our body asks for it. My second lesson is that it is possible to starve to death and that ordering online will become your best friend. I’m not going to say that I was lacking protein or whatever. I had not been vegan long enough to feel a lack in my metabolism. But, my whole body knows how hungry I was. During those few days, it was difficult, if not impossible, to find food. If at the beginning of this article I talked about the ease with which junk food was found, for vegan food, it’s a different story. When my friends could afford a sandwich for lunch, for me, the choices were reduced to a few or sometimes non-existent. I found my first “vegan Friendly” restaurant (and by Vegan Friendly I imply that on the menu there was only one real vegan dish and it was a vegan salad), on the 4th day (the other days I was satisfied with a salad or a bowl of vegetables). I ate my first real vegan meal on the 5th day and tasting this treat, I realized that:

1. Eating vegan does not have to be boring, and you actually have a variety of choices.

2. Eating vegan is expensive, (68 euros for lunch for 2 people).

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No matter how many days you spend being a vegan, you can see a difference in your body. Indeed, I can testify that after these 7 days, I lost 2 kilos. It’s not something big, but veganism has done more for me in 7 days than coca light in 20 years. I also learned that, definitely, I’d rather starve than cook. However, if you’re a cordon-bleu, being vegan, it’s also a way for you to try new recipes. Being vegan is probably not the easiest solution to junk food but it is an alternative in the sense that being vegan is somehow adhering to the philosophy of anti-overconsumption. 

Is there a solution to junk food? 

To conclude, I will say that the solution to junk food is primarily a question of will. We have all the keys on hand, but we continue to make the same bad choices. This makes me wonder if this penchant for facility could not be in fact representative of a society which flees more and more any type of effort. A society that prefers to let itself die slowly rather than refuse some French fries. This same society, which, despite all the alarms, does not do much for the environment, deliberately ignoring that the overconsumption of meat is as harmful for the body as it is for the planet. Certainly, junk food has the advantage of being fast, easy to find and inexpensive. But we know that cheap price does not necessarily rhyme with quality. That’s why we propose at Fouquet’s rather than at burger king. On the other hand, veganism, as I showed earlier, is interesting, but suffers from a lack of public understanding. And the demand is so low that the supply is almost nonexistent. However with the internet and applications such as “Ubereat”, everything becomes simpler and closer. Long live the interconnection! It’s up to us to do our own research.

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This article is not meant to be a eulogy of veganism. You can very well have a healthy lifestyle without necessarily eating vegetables at every meal. I just wanted to highlight the issue of junk food which is the only poison that the human race volunteers to consume regularly. And the issue is more societal than economic, as studies show that the consumption of junk food is more important in Western countries than in other countries. However, the damage on the planet will be important no matter where you are. At the end of this article, I will probably go to eat out with my friends. And when the waiter will tell me that there is nothing vegan on the menu, I may opt for a steak. Maybe you’re eating while reading this article, or maybe it’s just one of among the million of articles on the same subject that you’ll find on Google. Whatever it is, do not go back to your old habits. Because after all, you can go against the old adage: we are what we eat. Don’t be what you eat!

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