There are a few misconceptions regarding a plant-based diet that can easily be disproved with a little research.
You’ll find that a plant-based diet is something that many healthy and happy people enjoy. Let’s look at a few of the myths surrounding this diet and what a vegan lifestyle is really all about.
What Is Veganism, Really?
A vegan diet is quite simple. You eat plant-based food only. That means no meat or animal by-products. Unlike vegetarians, vegans don’t eat things that animals produce, like milk or eggs.
Can you survive off plants alone? Of course. In fact, studies show that well-planned vegan diets can satisfy all the required amounts of nutrients, proteins, and vitamins. Plus, these diets may actually help support cholesterol levels, blood pressure, and body weight.1
Vegan Myths And Misconceptions
It’s estimated that 3% of the U.S. population already enjoys a vegan diet.2 That number is only growing as more and more people learn the truth about what it means to eat a vegan diet.
Check out some of the most common myths about veganism and plant-based nutrition below.
Myth 1: Vegans Are Calcium Deficient
Eliminating milk and cheese from your diet doesn’t automatically equate to a lack of calcium. Cruciferous vegetables such as kale and broccoli have lots of easily absorbed calcium.3
Some leafy greens like spinach contain more oxalic acid than others. This can inhibit the absorption of calcium.4 So, if you’re worried about your calcium levels, just check with your doctor or nutritionist to make sure you’re eating the right fruits and vegetables. There are lots of vegan-friendly foods to choose from that can ensure you get all the calcium you need.5
Myth 2: Vegans Are Protein Deficient
A common belief exists that the only way to receive protein is by consuming animal meat. However, this is not true. Other sources of protein include many legumes such as chickpeas and lentils, nuts and seeds, and fruits and vegetables. In fact, many fruits and vegetables provide more than enough plant-based protein for the average healthy human.
Consistent results have shown that a well-balanced vegan diet can provide all of the proteins and essential amino acids you need to be healthy.6
Variety does however play a crucial role in supporting proper levels of vegan protein. As long as you consume a healthy range of plant foods such as legumes and leafy greens then there is no evidence to show that a vegan diet lacks adequate protein.7
Consult with your doctor if you have concerns about protein levels in your diet or are considering a plant-based diet.
Myth 3: Vegans Are Automatically Healthier
Due to the growing popularity of veganism, lots of companies now manufacture and process vegan food. This means that there’s lots of vegan food wrapped in plastic or packaging.
Sure, it might be “vegan,” but it doesn’t inherently make it healthy. Even potato chips can technically be vegan.
Going vegan doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll automatically be healthier. To experience the true health benefits of a vegan diet, you’ll need to choose fresh, whole foods that offer nutritional value such as fruits and vegetables.
Myth 4: Vegans Can Never Really Feel Full
It takes a lot of kale to feel full. Maybe that’s true, but kale’s hardly the only thing to eat in a vegan diet. Bolster your meals with starches like sweet potatoes or beans with lots of plant proteins to make meals more filling.
Additionally, when you switch from a conventional diet to a vegan diet, you might need to modify your portion sizes and the frequency of your meals. Research the nutritional content of your food as you plan for meals. Experiment, and have fun. There’s no reason to feel hungry just because you’re on a vegan diet.
Myth 5: A Vegan Diet Equals Weight Loss
Sure, a vegan diet may help you lose weight, but it depends on what kind of food you eat. As mentioned, the growing popularity of veganism means that there’s lots of vegan food now that comes from a package with a long list of processed ingredients. These foods may be animal-free, but they may also be high in saturated fat and calories.
Of course, you’ll want to combine a diet full of real, whole foods with plenty of exercise to most effectively reach your fitness goals. Talk to your doctor about your weight loss goals and whether or not a plant-based diet is right for you.
Myth 6: A Vegan Diet Is Too Hard To Follow
Twenty years ago, a waiter might have raised an eyebrow if you told them you were vegan. Now, vegan diets are common and widespread, making them easier to follow than ever before.
You no longer need to rely solely on a tiny food co-op to support a vegan diet. Most supermarkets stock lots of vegan-friendly items. Whatever you don’t find at the store can most likely be found from an online health food store.
Even dining out is easy. Many restaurants offer vegan options. Look for the tiny “v” on the menu that typically indicates the vegan options.
Myth 7: Vegan Food Doesn’t Taste Good
Veganism tends to conjure images of raw broccoli and celery sticks for dinner. While that’s a perfectly suitable meal, it doesn’t truly encapsulate the diversity of a vegan diet.
A plant-based diet can be as dynamic and exciting as any other diet. It only takes a little imagination and research. There’s lots of inspiration for fun and tasty meals online or from the many vegan cookbooks that are readily available online or in stores.
Myth 8: Kids That Are Vegan Don’t Grow Up Big And Strong
The number one job of kids seems to be growing. So, it stands to reason that you want to satisfy all of their nutritional needs and requirements. This is totally possible with a vegan diet.
In fact, avoiding a “traditional” American diet – pepperoni pizza, hot dogs, processed chicken nuggets – can be quite beneficial for a child’s health.
Kids that get their nutrition and vitamins from fruits and vegetables are less likely to have weight problems or certain other medical issues.9
Of course, it’s always a good idea to talk with your doctor about your children’s or grandchildren’s diets. Together, you can formulate a plan to ensure they’re getting all the essential vitamins, protein, and calcium they need.
Myth 9: A Vegan Diet Is Too Expensive
This misconception is easy to believe when you stroll the aisles of your grocery store and see all the super cheap junk food. Sure, a bunch of organic, farm fresh apples or kale might seem a little pricey compared to a bag of chips. However, the staples of a vegan diet such as beans, potatoes, or lentils are very affordable.
Plus, keep in mind how much money you’ll save when you cut meat and dairy out of the equation. These can be some of the most expensive items in a grocery store.
Leaving those animal products off your next shopping list will save money and can make the purchase of nice veggies very manageable.
The Truth About A Vegan Diet
The honest truth about a vegan diet is that for many people it can be a very healthy and practical choice. A plant-based diet never needs to be boring. It’s great for kids and adults alike. You can get all your essential nutrients, like calcium and protein. It won’t break the bank. And, best of all, it can be totally delicious.
If you are interested in pursuing a vegan diet, talk with your doctor first. They can help you come up with a plan to best support your health.
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