Everyone seems to have their own misconceptions concerning veganism. Certainly there are lifestyle and health concerns to keep in mind before switching to a plant-based diet, but for the most part, most of people’s preconceptions are unfounded.
Myth 1: It is difficult to get enough protein
The first questions most vegans usually face is “How do you get enough protein?” The answer is straightforward: meat is not the only source of protein. It is completely reasonable to obtain enough protein from plant and soy-based sources. Tofu, beans, nuts, lentils, chickpeas, tempeh, soymilk and certain grains such as quinoa all tout a decent amount of protein. For example, 1 cup of quinoa has 8 grams of protein while 2 cups of kidney beans have 26 grams of protein. For comparison, 100 grams of chicken have 27 grams of protein. As long as you are smart about combining protein-rich foods with vegetables, fruits, and grains, it is perfectly viable to get enough enough protein daily.
Myth 2: You have to take a bunch of vitamins
This is another question I have answered multiple times. “Don’t you have to take a ton of vitamins?” The answer to this question is different for everyone, vegan or non-vegan. It is possible to obtain enough nutrients through a plant-based diet and it’s usually easier to do so because of the high nutrient content in fruits and vegetables. Calcium can be found in plant sources like soy, almonds, kale and collard greens. However, many health professionals will recommend a B12 supplement for most vegans because B12 is generally only found in animal foods. It is also possible to get enough B12 through fortified foods such as cereals, so talk to a health care professional about this option. I personally have not needed to supplement my diet as a vegan and have blood tests done to ensure my nutrient levels are sufficient. The key to ensuring you are getting what your body needs is to talk to a doctor or dietician first and make a plan or list of foods to optimize your nutrient intake. Going vegan the wrong way can be detrimental to you health. For example, french fries and sugary cereals are often vegan and if your diet mostly consists of foods like that, it is possible to induce a nutrient deficiency.
Myth 3: Vegan food is bland or tastes bad.
This is perhaps the most easily combatted misconception. Certainly, it might seem that vegans live off a diet of raw kale and beets, but this is often far from the truth. Austin is one of the best places to be a vegan. Almost all restaurants offer vegan options and can alter recipes to make certain dishes vegan if requested. Austin also has an array of gourmet, comfort, and ethnic restaurants serving up all-vegan menus. For example, Sweet Ritual on Duval offers a lengthy list of entirely vegan ice creams. Skull and Cakebones offers a heavenly assortment of vegan baked goods, from whoopee pies to cupcakes. Bouldin Creek Café can substitute a majority of their dishes with their delicious tofu scramble. Animal free cooking at home can be fun, quick, and easy since there is often less preparation and cooking time compared to cooking with meat dishes. However, some vegans like to find complicated and intricate recipes because veganism offers a lot of culinary creativity. In addition, many stores offer up veggie burgers, hot dogs, and cheeses that can be quickly whipped up at home. It can be fun to try a variety of new vegetables, fruits, and grains, and usually, vegan dishes end up being colorful and delicious. The options are endless.
Myth 4: You cannot be vegan and a good athlete
This misconception is often related to the idea that vegans are deficient in protein and B12. But vegan athletes are numerous and it’s very feasible to perform well without animal products. The key is to be smart about what you put into your body to fuel it for success. There are actually many professional vegan athletes. Ariel Rosenfield is a vegan ultra marathon runner and Brendan Brazier is a famous vegan triathlete. As long as you choose foods packed with protein and nutrients and ingest enough calories daily, there is nothing preventing an athletic lifestyle on a vegan diet. As a regular lifter, runner, and competitive rock climber, my animal free diet has never intervened in my athletic lifestyle.
Myth 5: You will spend a fortune on vegan food and ingredients
Just like any other diet, you can spend a lot on food but it’s not a requirement. Omnivores can end up spending more money than vegans because usually meats are the most expensive items in a grocery cart. It’s all about being smart about your spending. Certainly, going out and buying all the most expensive items such as fresh-pressed green juices and fancy vegan snacks can add up to a huge bill. But if you stick to cheap sources of plant protein such as lentils, beans, chickpeas, and inexpensive carbs such as brown rice and potatoes, your grocery bill will probably be smaller than when you were an omnivore.