Vegan Myths vs The Facts
Veganism can seem like a scary thing, and it’s certainly a big step. Eliminating not only meat, but all animal derived products (including eggs and dairy) from your diet can be a difficult thing to do.
And yet, we carry a stereotype about vegans, either that they’ve made the ultimate sacrifice and are extremely healthy, or the very opposite, that they’re weak and unhealthy. Before considering veganism, you might want to look at a few of the myths and facts surrounding the dietary choice…
Vegans Don’t Get Protein
Okay, meat is an excellent source of protein, as are eggs and dairy products. The truth is though, that legumes (beans, lentils, soy etc.) are also packed with protein. The recommended amount of protein daily for men is fifty six grams, and forty six grams for women.
One cup of dried beans contains sixteen grams. You do the math. Vegans tend not to be lacking in protein, simply because they eat far more legumes than the average person…
Vegans are Weak (and pale…)
Some of us think that women in particular shouldn’t choose veganism, since women need plenty of iron. And meat is a great source of iron and vitamin B12, both of which are necessary for energy and avoiding anemia.
Whether or not vegans are weak depends a lot on what they eat. You can get iron from dark leafy vegetables, you can get B12 from fortified soy milk, or take a supplement. But truthfully, it is difficult for some vegans to get the required amounts of iron and B12.
Plant-based iron is more difficult for the body to process than iron from meat, and it can be difficult to get enough B12 simply from consuming fortified sources. A lot of vegans take supplements because it’s the only way they can get enough iron and B12.
Pregnant Women Shouldn’t Be Vegan
This is a commonly held belief, supported by some famous faces, such as Natalie Portman who stopped being vegan during her pregnancy. Babies need nutrition, and if you’re not careful about balancing your vegan diet, they can suffer.
However, if you are vigilant, and you talk to your doctor, you can be vegan and pregnant. It just takes some extra work, that’s all. Plus, those pregnancy cravings might make it a little difficult to keep up your vegan lifestyle.
Being Vegan is a Good Way to Lose Weight
You’d think so, wouldn’t you? Eating all those low calorie vegetables has to be good for something, right? But not necessarily. Although some studies show that vegan women will lose more weight than women on a regular low fat diet, it still all depends on what you’re eating.
Bad food choices are bad food choices, no matter whether they contain animal products or not. Truthfully, it’s probably easier to make good food choices on a vegan diet, since many bad choices will be unavailable to you. But not all vegan food is healthy. There are plenty of vegetable oil based potato chips, for example. So you still need to be careful.
Being Vegan is Tough
Many, many people will tell you that it’s not. Don’t believe them. It is hard to be completely vegan, particularly at the beginning. So many food choices are denied to you that you may have difficulties preparing a balanced menu. You may be hungry, because you are used to meat and dairy in your diet.
You may have stomach problems, because you are not used to consuming so much fiber. It is not an easy choice. It will, however, get easier over time, as you get used to the things that you can have, and those you can’t, and no longer fall for hidden animal products in foods that you thought were vegan and turned out not to be.
Being vegan can be a healthy choice. But like anything else, it’s only a healthy diet if you consciously make the effort and prepare yourself. Is cutting out entire food groups a healthy way to live? Many people seem to think so.
Are humans naturally designed to be vegan? No, we’re not. While it can be a good choice for some people, for the majority of us it is not an ideal situation. Think carefully before taking on any severely restricted diet.