Vegan junk food… does such a thing exist?
Why yes, of course it does. Have you ever heard of Oreos, Ritz crackers, or Swedish Fish? Yup, all vegan.
There is a name for a vegan who eats a lot of this type of food, called a “junk food vegan.” It’s someone who eats a lot of unhealthy, processed, and often unintentionally vegan products (e.g. potato chips that happen to not contain any animal products). Vegan doesn’t automatically mean healthy.
I don’t consider myself a junk food vegan since I strive to consume mainly healthy, whole, and nutrient-dense foods, but I am still human and eat some processed foods daily. Around 10% of my diet comes from processed food, in the form of crackers, ice cream, chips, bread, etc. I’m trying to decrease my processed food intake to around 5%, but salt and sugar are ADDICTING, man! (Popcorn is bae.)
So without further ado, here are my favorite vegan junk foods, in no particular order:
- Terra potato chips
There are many flavors, but my favorites include sweet potato & beets, original, and exotic potato. I haven’t tried all of them, but I’m DYING to try to the taro flavor!
- Lenny and Larry’s cookies
These are marketed as protein cookies so they’re semi-guilt free, but with around 15 grams of sugar per cookie, they’re still not very healthy….
My favorite flavor is the double chocolate chip. I also really like the coconut chocolate chip flavor.
Ugh, I could never give up chocolate. Well, maybe I could do it for a week, but why would I put myself through such pain and suffering? (I imagine this is what non-vegans think to themselves when I tell them I don’t eat cheese.) I’ve made it a point to only buy fair trade chocolate ever since my senior year of college, when I learned about the chocolate industry’s enslavement of children in a sociology class. You can watch a short documentary on the topic here.
The good thing about vegan chocolate it that the majority of companies that make it are fair trade (Mars doesn’t exactly cater to the vegan market). So, if you’re buying dairy-free chocolate, chances are it’s made humanely as well.
Favorite brands include Theo, Endangered Species, Alter Eco, and sweetriot.
The popcorn addiction is real. I eat it everyday. You get to eat so much for relatively little calories, what’s not to love? My favorite flavor is kettle corn. A far as ready-to-eat popcorn, my favorites are Skinny Pop, Boom Chicka, and Good Health brands. There are also a lot of locally-made popcorn brands that I find in my grocery store that are very good. Orville’s smartpop is also a solid choice.
Popcorners are also a weakness of mine. My favorite flavors are sweet chili and kettle.
I’ve recently widened my breadth of appreciation for popcorn by introducing Korean popcorn into my diet. It’s similar to regular ol’ American popcorn, but it has no oil, a bit more of a tea flavor (don’t ask me why), and the pieces are a little bigger. I am so cultured.
- Ice cream
My top three dairy-free ice cream brands are: Steve’s, So Delicious (cashew milk and coconut milk varieties), and Trader Joe’s.
The only bad thing about vegan ice cream is that it’s pretty pricey, so I only buy ones that are on sale.
Steve’s is a Brooklyn-based ice cream company, and although they make mostly regular ice cream, their non-dairy versions are really good. Right now I have their coffee flavor in my freezer and I’m loving it. ($10.00/pint)
So Delicious has a massive variety of flavors. I’ve tried a lot of different ones, and I have to say the ones made from cashew milk and coconut milk are the best. Don’t buy the almond milk ones… they may have fewer calories/fat, but the cream factor is so nonexistent that it isn’t worth it.
My favorites of the coconut milk flavors are cookie dough and chocolate. Out of their cashew milk flavors, I like the dark chocolate truffle and cappuccino flavors most. (Around $4.50/pint)
Trader Joe’s make a soy cherry chocolate chip ice cream that is absolutely delicious. They have a few other soy flavors that I haven’t tried yet, but I’m sure they’re good too. It’s pretty cheap as well– you can get a quart (which is two pints) for only $3.99.
- Rice crackers
My office always has a big tub of rice crackers in the kitchen, so I tend to snack on these whenever I get hungry at work.
At home, I like to snack on “kaki no tane” a Japanese product of spicy rice crackers. If you like spicy food, you’ll like these.
This is another item that’s always available in my office kitchen, so it’s become a default afternoon snack food along with the rice crackers. My office has the sourdough nugget kind (I think Snyder’s brand), but I also really like Unique brand and Snyder’s mini pretzels. I once heard that pretzels are worse for you than chips, so I try not to eat a ton of them, but they are so good that I can’t help myself.
- Trader Joe’s Chocolate Cat Cookies
Trader Joe’s has a lot of fantastic vegan products, but my favorite has to be their cat cookies. They are really chocolate-y, low fat, and relatively low cal. I love mixing them in with my popcorn for a nice sweet addition.
Trader Joe’s junk food honorable mentions:
-Roasted plantain chips
-Multiseed soy sauce crackers