I used to argue with my friend Gordon about nutrition, and particularly about what he called “healthy fats.” Gordon was big on healthy fats, and he believed that the healthiest fat was coconut oil. He would eat tablespoons of coconut oil every day for its touted health benefits. He said that it had antioxidant properties; he claimed that it would lower your cholesterol, and that it controlled blood sugar; he even argued that there were studies proving that it reduced stress and depression. Plus it made your hair shiny! It was a miracle food, according to Gordon. He was very worried that I didn’t consume coconut oil or enough “healthy fats.”
I didn’t buy any of his arguments, but I restrained myself in my rebuttals. I was at my usual healthy weight, while Gordon was fifty pounds overweight—something that I never pointed out because Gordon owed me money and I didn’t want to piss him off. Unfortunately, he was having trouble paying me back, because a lot of his income was going towards coconut oil.
Gordon and I don’t argue about coconut oil any longer because he died of sudden cardiac arrest. I realize now that that may be how coconut oil reduces your stress. Gordon’s death was a tragedy for Gordon, and it was a tragedy for his loved ones. I never got to say goodbye to him, and I never got to say I told you so.
Unfortunately, coconut oil has taken over the vegan food industry. I went to the grocery store this morning and looked at some foods in the refrigerated vegan section. Do you want Fresh Thyme’s Plant Based Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream made with coconut oil? It has 12 grams of fat in a serving, including 10 grams of saturated fat. By comparison, a hamburger has 6 grams of saturated fat. So that plant-based ice cream may be worse for your heart than a hamburger. How about So Delicious Vanilla Bean Coconut Milk Dessert? You’re looking at
15 grams of fat, 10 grams saturated fat. Silk brand Greek Style Blueberry Yogurt boasts 10 grams of saturated fat in a serving. How about the Impossible Sausage, made from (among other ingredients) soy protein, sunflower oil, and coconut oil? 9 grams of fat, and 4 grams
of saturated fat. And that’s based on a serving being 2 ounces. If you have a 4 ounce serving—and I’ve been known to eat more than 4 ounces of food at a meal—you’re getting 8 grams of saturated fat, more than in a hamburger.
Would you like a single slice of Follow Your Heart Dairy Free Mozzarella? One slice contains 4 grams of saturated fat. The serving side is SEVEN TENTHS OF AN OUNCE! Or would you like to try Follow Your Heart Blue Cheese? You’ll be getting 6 grams of saturated fat in an ounce of food made principally from filtered water, coconut oil, and potato starch.
That’s the new vegan processed food formula. Take some food starch, add coconut oil and flavoring, and voila, you’ve got a new vegan food that could end your stress without warning.
Now these foods are sometimes referred to as transitional foods. Let’s say someone is transitioning from a traditional meat-and-dairy diet. They may miss the meaty flavors and textures they’re used to, so they understandably sample some processed foods from the refrigerated vegan section of the grocery store. I did that when I became vegan 30 years ago. I ate processed foods like vegan hot dogs and vegan meatballs and vegan chicken nuggets. They may not have been healthy, but they didn’t contain coconut oil; they weren’t fatty. Some of them were even zero fat.
When did coconut oil take over the vegan food movement? Whose treacherous idea was this? In some dark corner of my brain, I wonder if it’s possible that this infusion of coconut oil into vegan foods was a devious plot conceived by the meat industry. Could they be trying
to kill off the vegans? I don’t want to spread conspiracy theories, and I know that this particular conspiracy theory is preposterous, but the reality is that coconut oil may be the single most unhealthy vegan food on the planet, and yet it’s almost impossible to avoid amongst the refrigerated vegan foods in most grocery stores. It’s hard to understand why vegans would want to kill themselves with it.
If you’re first becoming vegan, it’s fine to have some transitional foods. But in the best sort of dietary transitions, you don’t transition your way into heaven. So avoid foods made with coconut oil; we need to boycott this stuff.
Is there a lesson here? Yes, there is. Don’t be foolish. Don’t loan money to people who eat a lot of coconut oil.