Let’s Bust Some Longstanding Myths About Vegan and Vegetarian Diets

Terri Carr

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When you are desperately trying to sidestep hot button topics like politics and religion at all the upcoming holiday dinners, you might think your cousin’s vegan diet is a safe subject. Comparatively speaking, it probably is safe. But since the majority of Americans center their meals around meat, vegetarians and vegans are sometimes seen as a strange breed. Not surprisingly, they hear the same misconceptions over and over again from curious friends, family and even co-workers.

So let’s bust some of those myths right now so you can be a step ahead when you sit down to dinner.

#1

Myth: Vegetarians are indignant that carnivores eat sweet, helpless animals

Reality: People become vegetarian for a variety of reasons, sometimes completely unrelated to tender feelings for animals

Some vegans chose to forgo all animal products because of concern for animals but other people have eliminated meat and animal by products (such as dairy and eggs) because of digestive problems. Others simply never cared for meat in the first place and finally decided to leave it out of their diet completely. Many people who practice meditation feel that a vegetarian diet is more calming and makes it easier to meditate.

#2

Myth: Vegans and vegetarians don't get enough protein

Reality: We’re not protein-deficient simply because we don’t eat meat

If there is one question longtime vegans would like to never hear again, it’s how they get enough protein. An incomplete list of vegan protein sources: tempeh, tofu, quinoa, edamame beans, green peas, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds, spirulina and, surprisingly, vegetables.

Twentieth century nutritionists argued that animal protein is either necessary or the ‘best’ source of protein for humans, though of course, not everyone agrees.

To counter the outdated idea that meatless diets make a person weak, consider that we have many world class athletes (Brandon Brazier, Carl Lewis, etc.) who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet.

#3:

Myth: Vegetarians / vegans don’t eat sugar, or any kind of junk food

Reality: If only this were true!

Vegetarianism has long been equated with the term “health nut” but actually some vegetarians like junk food too. They may have eliminated meat from their diets for any of the aforementioned reasons, but that does not mean they have learned to cook. Which means they rely on the variable vegetarian options available at restaurants, including fast food places.

Also, we like chocolate and vegan/non-vegan ice cream, pie, cake, more pie… you get the idea.

#4

Myth: Vegans and vegetarians secretly wish they could eat hearty, meat-based foods without losing their halo

Reality: We enjoy many absolutely satisfying, delicious meals without meat

Just as a hardcore carnivore can’t imagine living without meat, many vegetarians never cared for it in the first place. Besides, when someone hasn’t eaten meat for a year or two, they often lose the taste for meat. Vegetarians don’t typically feel deprived without meat simply because plant-based diets can be quite delicious and satisfying.

#5

Myth: Vegans and vegetarians all eat the same things

Reality: Are eating preferences are as diverse as carnivore diets

Non-meat eaters do not have a single bible or rulebook which guides what they eat. Some heat frozen veggie entrees in the microwave for lunch and have peanut butter and jelly for dinner. Others get fresh veggies from a local organic farm and make all their meals from scratch. Some enjoy fake meats. Some don’t touch them.

#6

Myth: Vegetarians, and especially vegans, look down on meat-eaters

Reality: We don’t (hopefully) judge meat-eaters

You don’t have to apologize for being a meat eater. No one else has the right to tell you what your dietary choices should be. While some new converts may be a tad pushy in their zeal for their new diet, most people realize that dietary decisions are quite personal. Judgmental vegans are a tiny minority of the total vegetarian and vegan population.

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