Americans are constantly bombarded with advertising regarding their food choices. In one of the most current commercials for KFC $5 Fill Ups, Colonel Sanders sings "Three chicken tenders, taters and gravy, I threw in a biscuit and a big ole cookie." Personally, this ad drives me crazy for a multitude of reasons, but they aren't necessarily relevant. Let's just calculate the nutrient content of this meal: 390 calories in three chicken tenders, 130 calories for Finger Lickin' Good dipping sauce, 120 calories in the mashed potatoes with gravy, 180 calories in a biscuit, and 170 calories in a chocolate chip cookie. That is 990 calories for a poorly balanced meal (not including a drink) composed of 53g of fat (48% of calories from fat), 16g of saturated fat, 110mg cholesterol, 2260mg sodium (basically the entire recommended daily amount for a healthy adult), 87g carbohydrates, 4.5g fiber, 22g sugar, 42g protein.
On the one hand, we see these types of ads for fat-laden greasy or fried foods, with absurd caloric density, but little to no nutritional benefit. Then we see just as many ads for "diet" products making promises they have no business making and commercials for medications made for those who have followed the SAD and suffered from high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, and other health issues. There is a much bigger issue here. Americans abuse their bodies through a cycle of fueling their systems with junk, then trying to correct resulting health issues with supplements and processed foods labeled "low-fat" or "natural". They may think calorie restriction is the way to go, however this is an unsustainable method for most people, eventually resulting in returning to their old habits. Eventually, this will result in the need for pharmacological or surgical intervention, which isn't cheap!
Americans aren't stupid. They have at least a general idea of what foods are good or bad for them, yet they so often choose the unhealthy option. Why? Because it is convenient, cheap, and let's face it...delicious. Over time, our tastebuds have adjusted to know, love, and crave fatty and sugary processed foods. Vegetables, beans, and starches must be smothered in butter or cheese to be enjoyed. So how can the vegan diet compete?
To answer the original question in the context of a lifestyle change, rather than a single meal: Yes, but it takes time. First of all, the individual has to be ready to change, or at least open to trying vegan foods. This is also a transitioning process. Most people would not stick to this diet if they were immediately forced to switch over to a strictly low-fat, whole foods, plant-based diet. This takes our brain and tastebuds time. Research and an adventurous spirit can speed this process along, and for those who are making the switch due to health issues, this may be wise. Eventually, you will become more in tune with your body's nutrient needs and you will crave fruits and vegetables!
There is so much more I could say about this topic, but I won't bore you. Here are Cameron's very 'Merican responses to my pre-challenge questions:
Q #2. What are the animal products you will miss most while on this diet?
Cheese. Goat cheese is my favorite, but any cheese.
Q #3. What are your general perceptions of or attitudes toward veganism?
I think it's fine. I have no problems with it. I don't think I could go as far as vegan all the time. I could go vegetarian if I had to, but cheese is a struggle.
Q #4. If you were ultimately convinced to go vegan, what would most likely be your reason: personal health, welfare of animals, or environmental sustainability?
They are all things I am aware of and I care about, but I don't think I would change my diet specifically for animals or the environment. Health would probably end up being the biggest thing.
Q #5. What do you hope to gain from this experience?
Changes in my health, because I typically eat unhealthy.
Q #6. Is there anything you absolutely do not want to eat while on this diet?
Q #7. Any guilty pleasures that may act as temptations on this diet?
Chocolate, peanut butter, pizza, cheeseburgers.
Q #8. What do you do for physical activity?
Not super active. When I have work, its about 5 hours of activity, but not hard activity. Some days I walk the dogs for 45 minutes to an hour. And hiking when I get the chance.
Q #9: How much energy would you say you feel you have throughout the day on a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being feeling lethargic or fatigued and 10 being alert and as if you always want to be on the move, with energy to spare.
Seven. I have a pretty good deal of energy throughout the day, I just don't find places to use it.
Q #10. How much sleep on average do you think you need at night to feel rested and energized?
Eight to nine hours.