Before you get started with New Year's resolutions about being good, here's a post about being bad. Really, really bad.
Oh, come on! I'm talking about food. This is a G-rated blog, y'know.
When people think about vegans, the first thing they imagine is a bunch of do-gooders who read every ingredient label twice and then once more, interrogate waiters as if they were accessories to murder, and in general subject themselves to absolute deprivation because we don't want to murder animals for food.
Worse, the world worries, we will force our food habits on them (I swear a new acquaintance rolled her eyes last week when I mentioned we choose a vegetarian-friendly restaurant for a lunch outing).
But we vegans like to play dangerous too. And yes, our decadence can often be, ahem, rather healthy, but there are lots of foods out there we love that qualify as total junk, even in the non-vegan world. And that, just before those resolutions kick in, is exactly what this fun post is all about: it's my rather counterintuitive list of five of my most favorite-- and widely available -- junk food splurges that are also inadvertently vegan. Meaning the manufacturers never intended them to be vegan and they are not labeled as such, but they just ended up being so.
This is a short list because it's just mine, but for more inspiration check out PETA's long list of foods you can buy off supermarket shelves that are also "accidentally" vegan. If you are a non-vegan who glances at this list and wonders if all this stuff isn't obviously vegan, trust me when I say that readymade foods that may seem very obviously animal-free are very often not. Do you know, for instance, that even after being sued for its beef-fat-fried French Fries way back when, McDonald's continues to use in its fries a flavoring derived from beef and from milk products, making this potato product entirely non-vegetarian?
I also want to clarify that I am not endorsing the products I have listed here, or encouraging people to eat unhealthy. I like eating good-for-me stuff too, most of the time. But I do believe, with all my heart, that the occasional french fry (although not a McDonald's one) does more good than harm to a human soul.
So here goes, not in any particular order:
1. Oreos: I love these delicious little black-and-white nuggets and although I don't eat them as often as I'd love to, I would probably put them on my list of foods I'd want to eat on my death bed. A word of caution, though: I learned this when I posted my Oreo Cake that although these delicious sandwich cookies are vegan in the United States, they could contain whey in other countries in Europe and Asia where they are also manufactured and sold.
2. Ghirardelli White Mocha Hot Chocolate: I love nothing more than to snuggle into bed with a cup of hot chocolate, and what's better than white hot chocolate? This is by far the most delicious drink I have ever had in my life-- mix it with some soymilk and you are ready to go to heaven.
3. Lay's Potato Chips: I love potatoes. There, I've said it. I don't care if they sit on my hips for the rest of my life, because what would good would life be without the occasional plunge into a crackling bag of crispy, salty, absolutely incredible potato chips?
4. Cinnamon Life cereal: This may qualify as breakfast food, but let's not kid ourselves: with a ton of sugar and almost no protein and fiber, this is not a healthy splurge. But it's SO good.
5. Fritos: Deep-fried corn? Bring it on!
So what are your guilty pleasures that were never meant to be vegan but are? Chime in!