I have a confession. I ate a vegan pizza

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I recently bought and ate a fast food shop bought vegan pizza. SHOCK HORROR !

I was really excited to hear that a local pizza shop had started stocking pizza with vegan cheese; what a rare treat I thought. So the other weekend, when my husband and I decided to go to one of our favourite spots to watch the sunset, it was ME (not him) that suggested we get a pizza on the way there and have a picnic. Part of the reason I justified it that day was because my husband had joked earlier that ‘we’d eaten so many greens that weekend that he was worried he was going to start turning green’. So I figured seeing as we’d eaten exceptionally well that weekend, we deserved a treat! Logical right ?! Today’s society generally rewards itself with food. How often do you hear parents saying to their children, ‘Eat your dinner or you won’t have dessert, do your homework and then you can have sweets’. So no wonder we do it as adults. It has been drummed into us our entire life.

So I ate a pizza, big deal right? WRONG !  I am absolutely not joking when I say that within an hour I started to feel terrible. I felt like someone had injected me with a sleeping medication and I felt exhausted. My mood started to get a bit more irritated and I felt really, really nauseous. I put it all down to a busy day, however my husband joked about whether the pizza had ‘poisoned me’. The next morning I woke up and said that I wasn’t going for my scheduled run because I still didn’t feel well. 

“I felt like I had a (food) hangover”

I was exhausted, lacked energy and still felt sick. What I didn’t realise until later that day was that my husband also felt like he had a hangover when he woke up.

When I got up I googled the cheese ingredients. Perhaps it would have been a better idea to have done this BEFORE I had eaten the pizza but you live and learn. I was so angry and frustrated to see that two of the ingredients are Annatto and Titanium Dioxide.

DOH ! That will teach me not to read food labels beforehand. So let’s talk a little bit more about these two ingredients:

Annatto (160b)

Although annatto is a natural orange-yellow dye made from ground up seed pods of the annatto tree it does not necessarily make it safe.  It is commonly used in Australia and the USA in cereals, yogurts, ice-cream, cheese and can also be called bixin or norbixin.  It is even found in Juice Plus+ fruit and veg gummies which are marketed for children; quite ironic when you look at the number of cases of headbanging and other behavioural problems that resolve when annatto is removed from their diet.

Adverse reactions include: Headaches in adults and children, irritability, restlessness, sleep disturbances, irritable bowel, respiratory problems and  head banging in children to name a few.

There is research that goes back as far as 1978 showing the side effects of this additive. Not only that but there is heaps of scientific research backing up these early studies. A good substitute would be beta carotene (160a) which is used all over Europe.  It seems food companies in Australia and the USA are unfortunately willing to sacrifice our health for their profit as annatto is a lot cheaper to use.

Titanium Dioxide (171)

The ingredients on the vegan cheese lists titanium dioxide as ‘a naturally occurring mineral’ but is that listed there to make us consumers feel safer? Let’s not forget that arsenic is natural but it does not make it safe.

Titanium dioxide is found in so many foods including bread, chocolate, skimmed milk, cheese, vegan cheese, yogurt, as well as toothpaste, beauty products and sunscreen. What is worrying is that in the USA, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require food to be labelled if it contains less than 1% food-grade titanium dioxide . So we are probably unknowingly consuming titanium dioxide every day.

Potential side effects of titanium dioxide include respiratory problems and irritable bowel.  It is also classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as an IARC Group 2B carcinogen ”possibly carcinogenic to humans”. 

There is a lot more research to be carried out on the side effects of titanium dioxide but I’ve made my decision not to consume or use products that contain it.

I want to share this story with you for a number of reasons.

“I don’t want you to think I am the perfect green smoothie drinking, healthy, fit, fanatical foodie. I want you to know that I am human too and I sometimes crave junk food”

I also want you to realise that every BODY is different. A lot of people I know would be able to eat that pizza and feel fine.  I have friends that would be laughing reading this saying, ‘one pizza made you feel that bad?!’ Yes it did ! Because the more you clean up your diet, the more your body doesn’t like it when you put food-like items into your body and not actual food.

One of the first things I did that morning was to make a cleansing green smoothie which made me feel heaps better. Here is the recipe below:

It is so important that we listen to our own bodies. And it is also important that we start waking up to food labels and to mass marketing from big corporations. We need to take our own health into our hands and take control. There is definitely lots of lessons in this for me in the future and hopefully some for you too.

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