What Does it Mean to Eat “Clean” Plant-Based Foods?


“Clean Labels” is a growing trend in the food industry.

According to a recent survey by Packaged Facts, twice as many (49%) U.S. consumers consider “clean label” options important compared to those who consider clean label options irrelevant (24%).

How do you know the difference? It's important to demystify the “labels” that have been marketed to consumers to help people understand if the foods they are eating actually meet their values. As the owner of a food company that believes that what you eat should be all whole food and mostly plants, before simplifying clean labels, let’s first clarify the distinct differences between the three most common plant-forward diets out there.

The word vegan is often associated with a lifestyle, not just a diet. Veganism defines someone who chooses not to eat or use animal products. Just because something is labeled as vegan, doesn’t mean it’s good for us. It just means thatit didn’t get sourced from any part of an animal. Vegan foods can still be heavily processed, usually with added oils and sugars. Hence, it is entirely possible to be vegan and survive solely on cookies, chips, fries, bread, candy, and pasta, although, that is unlikely to be recommended.

Being plant-based  defines a diet that is based on foods derived from plants, including vegetables, grains, legumes, and fruits, but with only chemical traces of or no animal products. It must mean healthy, right? Well, here’s where things get tricky. Plant-based means the food started out being a plant, but it can also be heavily processed. For example, there’s a lot of hype around plant proteins such as pea and soy and even hemp isolates.hese are fractionated ingredients that no longer resemble the original plant that they were derived from. Once the whole vegetable is processed with hexane, an EPA regulated Hazardous Air Pollutant,or copious amounts of water, all that remains is the protein isolate. Therefore, all of the valuable constituents such as the naturally occurring fiber, vitamins, and minerals, have been dissolved or rinsed away. The question you may be asking yourself is... “Why not just eat the whole vegetable?”

Plant-Pure / Whole Food, Plant-Based (WFPB) / Whole Plant Foods
Although less common  terms, “plant-pure” or "WFPB," are the claims that, when held accountable, can provides for a truly clean food label. A plant-pure label describes a food product consisting exclusively of minimally processed whole legumes, whole vegetables, whole grains, and whole fruits. Unlike Vegan or Plant-Based diets, WFPB does not allow for heavily processed and nutritionally incomplete ingredients. This means that a whole food, plant-based diet provides the most nutrition and minimally processed food options.

Do you want to know how to differentiate the plant-pure (whole food, plant-based) choices from the rest?  First, plant-pure items will have clean labels, meaning, you can actually pronounce all the ingredients on the label. In fact, if every ingredient on a plant-based food label is something you could buy in the produce section of a market or eat all by itself, then it is more likely the food is also plant-pure. Simply put, plant-pure foods are made from real food. They are foods you could make at home in your own kitchen; if you had the time, will, money, and culinary skills.

Clean labels on products are really what healthy-eaters have been craving. With clean labels on food, there is no longer a question about what you’re actually eating. It’s not about making a food item tastelike something else or last on a shelf indefinitely. Clean labels are about eating great-tasting, whole-foods, that are exceptionally good for you. That’s clean food.

We’ve been working hard to make sure NexVeg™ stands out as plant-pure in the deep sea of Vegan, plant-based products. All of the ingredients in NexVeg-brand products are whole-foods that, when combined, create some of the cleanest, healthiest plant-pure proteins on the planet.

 If you’re a foodservice operator considering adding whole food, plant-based options to your menu, we invite you to schedule a customized tasting of NexVeg products for your restaurant.

Request Your Customized Tasting

If you’re a consumer looking to try NexVeg, check out some of the restaurants and home delivery options available to you.

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