Myths about Being Vegan and How to Answer Those Who Question Your Choice
Maybe you are already vegan. Maybe you’ve stopped by this page because you are considering going vegan. Either way, you will likely face many questions about your choices based on myths that the world has about plant-based living. Here are some of the most common myths and how to bust them!
Vegans are still a very small percentage of the US population. According to one survey, about one half of one percent of Americans identify as being vegan – that’s about 1.62 million folks. But the good news is that we are growing!
According to Google, searches for the term “vegan” spiked in 2015 by 32% and then again in 2016 there was a 90% increase in “vegan” searches.
Historically, people first ventured into veganism for animal rights and environmental reasons. Today, though, the primary driving factor for eating plants is Health. Which leads me to our first myth:
Vegan Diets are Not Healthy.
In December 2016, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics released a position paper about Vegetarian and Vegan Diets. The first line summarizes the guidelines well: “It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”
READ: “Appropriately Planned”. Any diet that you choose – whether omnivore or vegan – should be planned so that you achieve the necessary nutrients for optimal health and basic body functions. When someone tells you so-and-so became malnourished on a vegan diet, please remind them that vegan diets can be completely nutritionally adequate as long as someone chooses proper foods. And that the “Standard American Diet” followed today is often not nutritionally adequate in several vitamins and minerals including fiber, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and Vitamin E.
Vegan Diets are Boring and Restrictive
Many people (maybe even you before you went vegan) think that vegans only eat salads and drink green smoothies. From my own experience, I can say that I have never had such a varied diet than when I started focusing on plant-based eating. I have thousands of recipes at home for soups, entrees, snacks, and even desserts. And yes, salads – but hearty salads. It’s not all “rabbit food”.
For those who think that the diet is restrictive – well, yes, in a way it is. But in a positive way. I am choosing to restrict myself from eating animal foods. But it is still a choice that I am making for my own health. So, while it may not always be convenient (I can’t just grab foods off the shelves without reading labels), it is still a better path for me to eat plants.
Vegan diets are expensive.
When first buying fresh fruits and vegetables, sometimes the grocery bill can seem out of control. But vegan diets do not necessarily cost more than standard diets. Remember that you are saving money by not buying expensive cuts of meat and high priced dairy foods. If you are focused on health, you likely are not buying as many pre-packaged convenience foods as well.
There are ways to stay in budget with any diet of your choosing, and again it goes back to planning. Visit a farmer’s market, join a CSA, buy foods in season, grow your own garden…
And a word about supplements – you do not need to spend a lot of money here either. You do not need fancy vegan protein powders or a mega vitamin. If your diet is short in something (B12, iron, calcium), research whole food sources to add to your meal plans, or buy a simple vegan multivitamin. No need to break the bank!
Vegan diets make you tired and weak.
While you are out there web-surfing, stop by the page “Conscious Muscle” and you will see that vegans are not weak. And yes, vegans get plenty of protein.
Vegan Living is Fanatical/Extreme
Today, vegans/vegetarians/plant-based eaters come in all shapes and sizes. Vegan living is an overall lifestyle that is not only about the food you put in your mouth, but also about ethical concerns such as animal welfare and environment. Thus, it extends beyond diet. So, we've created the term plant-based for those who are focused on diet and have not yet reached true "vegan" status. And of course, there are many varieties of "vegetarianism" - including those who may eat meat once in a while (or flexitarians).
But these are all terms. You should live in a way that aligns with your belief, no matter what you call yourself. I hope that you do adopt a healthier view on the way we eat and live. Even if I don't "convert" you, I hope that you will take small steps toward limiting animal foods and eating more plants. I'm not here to judge you, but simply to help. I don't consider myself extreme or fanatical (I do love talking about plants, but only because I'm passionate!) I am completely human and I do make mistakes.
I hope that as you travel into the world of veganism you find support and caring. Because after all, that is what it is about - caring for yourself and the world around you.
Forks Over Knives
Vegan Food and Living