Vegan Snacks: Curb “Carnivore” Cravings — A Case For Plant Based
It’s 2 a.m., you’re binge watching Netflix, and those late night cravings hit. I’ve heard it many times: cravings are the most difficult thing for people to overcome, especially when converting to a healthier diet. We’ll discuss snack foods that are not vegan and highlight other snacks that are vegan. We’ll also talk about some healthier plant based alternatives: something I like to call curbing those carnivore cravings. 😉
Why foods that should be vegan aren’t
“How is that not vegan?!” Something each of us have said a thousand times. Reading food labels can be daunting and discouraging. Hidden meat and dairy products are everywhere.
There’s actually a simple and equally infuriating answer to why these products are hidden in so many foods. The meat and dairy industries have been on the decline for years. There are, quite literally, hundreds of millions of pounds of surplus. In order to deal with this, the meat and dairy industry went to their old pal, the U.S. government.
Not only have our tax dollars bailed out the meat and dairy industry time and again, but they have come up with new, clever ways to get rid of some of that surplus: i.e. hiding milk products in our food. And that, my friends, is your government at work for you.
Non-vegan snack foods and vegan alternatives
In some of these products, it’s easy to understand why they’re not vegan (such as snack foods that are cheese-based). While others, you’re left scratching your head as to why they contain milk products. Again, see above. 😠
Doritos Spicy Sweet Chili flavor is vegan
Lay’s Kettle Cooked salt and vinegar chips
regular Lay’s salt and vinegar chips are vegan
Pringle’s BBQ chips
Lay’s BBQ flavored potato chips
cream, milk, condensed milk
Vegan ice cream brands
Bonus: Hershey’s chocolate syrup is vegan and so is Smucker’s marshmallow ice cream topping
Snack foods that are vegan
- Fritos The Original
- Sun Chips original
- Lay’s classic potato chips
- Ruffles original potato chips
- Pringle’s original flavor
- Stacy’s pita chips
- Kettle Brand potato chips: maple bacon, sea salt and vinegar, jalapeno, and sriracha flavors
- Cracker Jacks
- Traditional Chex Mix
- most pretzels are vegan (always double check the ingredients label)
- SuperPretzel soft pretzels
- Ore-Ida products that do not contain milk or eggs: golden tater tots, golden crinkles, golden steak fries, golden waffle fries.
- pair with Good Karma plant based French onion or ranch dips
Candy and sweets that are vegan
- Ben & Jerry’s vegan chocolate chip cookie dough chunks
- Teddy Grahams: chocolate, chocolatey chip, and cinnamon flavors
- Nabisco Graham Crackers
- Pop-Tarts unfrosted flavors: blueberry, strawberry, and brown sugar cinnamon
- Jolly Ranchers
- Sour Patch Kids
- Swedish Fish
- Fruit by the Foot
- Most dark chocolate is naturally vegan (always check labels)
It is hotly debated whether or not Oreos are vegan. You’ll have to do your research and decide for yourself. I personally don’t eat them.
Dessert in a mug
These single serve desserts are a brilliant way to satisfy that sweet tooth without having to bake a whole cake or pan of brownies. 🙌
Vegan-specific snack brands
Why sugar and junk food is addictive
There is a system in the brain called the reward system, which rewards a person for doing things that encourage survival, like eating. When we eat, the brain releases endorphins (“feel-good” chemicals) to the reward system that encourages us to continue this behavior for survival.
These chemicals include dopamine, which the brain interprets as pleasure. Our brains seek out behaviors that release dopamine into the reward system.
“Junk food” (like sugar, salty snacks, and all processed foods), stimulates the reward system part of the brain in the same way addictive drugs do. Junk food causes a surge that is more powerful than any reward the brain can get from whole, natural food. We also learned about something similar in cheese.
For example, eating an apple, which contains natural sugar, releases a moderate amount of dopamine; whereas eating a bowl of ice cream that contains a high amount of added sugar (even if it’s vegan), releases a much larger amount of dopamine. This reward causes us to crave those more unhealthy foods.
Hunger is the body’s need for energy and nourishment. A craving, on the other hand, is the brain’s need to satisfy the desire for dopamine.
Some people can cut out junk food completely and not give in to cravings; others find it much more difficult to cut back on or eliminate junk food from their diet. Strategies that work for one person may not work for the next. It may take experimenting (and some failures along the way) to find what works best for you in your journey to a healthier lifestyle.
- Eat smaller meals more frequently so you are less hungry at set meal times
- Drink plenty of water
- Eat more protein
- Plan meals ahead of time
- Manage stress effectively and in a healthy way
- When craving something sweet, choose a fresh piece of fruit instead
- Allow yourself a few bites of what you’re craving then stop
- Eat healthy fats: like avocado
- Combine craving with healthy foods
- Chew gum when cravings hit
- When cravings arise, do something else to distract yourself
- Keep a food journal to increase your awareness: i.e. what triggered the craving
- Put simply: don’t buy junk food-if it’s not in the house, you can’t eat it.
Healthy snack options
We’ve talked about junk food, now let’s talk about some healthier snack alternatives.
- Hummus with fresh vegetables
- Guacamole with tortilla chips (sub fresh veggies for an even healthier option)
- Fresh fruit
- Dried fruit
- Plain fresh popped popcorn
- Carrot chips
- Raw nuts
- Raw natural peanut butter on celery sticks
- Kale chips
- Roasted seaweed snacks
- Roasted chickpeas
- Salsa with baked tortilla chips
You can check out these lists of common snack foods that are vegan:
Healthy is best
As a nurse and health activist, I obviously don’t condone a diet rich in processed junk food. At the same time, I am a realist; we all need to indulge from time to time, and that’s ok. Healthy plant based diets with the occasional unhealthy snack or “cheat day” are usually just fine-as long as healthy habits are not replaced by poor eating habits.
What are some of the ways you suppress cravings? Were you surprised by any particular food or brand on these lists? Sound off on the comments below! 🌱