We hear a lot about veganism and vegans but how much do we really know?
In fact, there are many myths and misconceptions about being or becoming a vegan. So let’s debunk some of them together and find out the truth.
1. Myth: Vegetarianism and strict vegetarianism (veganism) are the same.
Truth: Many people confuse these 2 terms or think they mean the same. The truth is, however, that vegetarians exclude animal products from their diet, but eat dairy and honey. On the contrary, strict vegetarians (vegans) choose only foods from plants such as fruits and vegetables, cereals and seeds, nuts, etc. See our article Vegans, Vegetarians, and Omnivores for more information.
2. Myth: A vegan diet is not healthy.
Truth: Good health depends on many factors besides diet. But if we focus on nutrition, research and studies have shown that a balanced plant-based diet helps prevent and treat several diseases.
According to the American Dietetic Association, vegans have a lower risk of heart disease, hypertension, cancer, type 2 diabetes, etc.
3. Myth: If you become vegan, you will immediately lose weight and you will always be healthy.
Truth: You can achieve weight loss mainly by following a balanced diet and increasing physical activity. If you become/are a vegan but you still eat a lot of sweets, processed foods, chips, etc. or you drink soft drinks, beverages with (artificial) sweeteners, then you will definitely not lose weight.
The same principles apply to your overall health. Excluding animal products from your life does not guarantee automatically good health.
Of course, a vegan’s diet is free of antibiotics and hormones that omnivores eat through animal products. They also do not consume genetically modified soybeans found in carnivores’ dishes through animal feed. In addition, a vegan’s health is at lower risk compared to an omnivore’s (as we saw above).
However, vegans must be careful to take the micro- and macronutrients they need (vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats), through a balanced diet.
4. Myth: Vegans do not have endurance and muscle strength.
Truth: Most people who become vegan find that they feel stronger physically and mentally a few days after changing their diet. Furthermore, do not forget that there are many athletes who do not eat animal foods but have better physical endurance than omnivores.
5. Myth: Vegans do not get enough protein.
Truth: This is a very common but false opinion. Protein is a key building block but we can also get it from plant-based foods! The difference is that in animal tissues we find all the amino acids that the human body needs and cannot synthesize, while in plant foods we usually get them through food combinations.
Therefore vegans do not lack protein when they eat a variety of foods rich in protein on a daily basis.
- cereals – quinoa, wild rice, etc.
- legumes – lentils, fava beans, soybeans (and soy-based products like tofu, soy milk), etc.
- nuts and seeds – almonds, almond butter, hazelnut butter, peanut butter, flaxseed, etc.
- vegetables (in less amount) – broccoli, spinach, artichoke, etc.
We shouldn’t forget that in the Western world we consume much more protein than we really need, mainly due to the consumption of animal foods.
6. Myth: Plants and animals feel the same pain.
Truth: Another very common and false argument used by omnivores. Plants do not have a central nervous system (or brain) and sensors that make them feel pain. Cutting a vegetable or a fruit is not the same as killing an animal that wants to live.
7. Myth: Eating vegan meals makes you feel always hungry.
Truth: Again it depends on what you eat. If you follow a proper plant-based diet, you consume fiber-rich foods, such as avocado, beans, whole wheat bread, vegetables, and fruits. These foods help you reduce hunger and keep you full longer.
8. Myth: The vegan diet is expensive.
Truth: The vegan diet can be indeed expensive if it consists of packaged, processed vegan products such as burgers, cheeses, etc. Even though, we can actually find now many vegan products at all prices.
But in essence, a plant-based diet that includes fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, cereals, and mushrooms is the one that is good not only for your health but also for your wallet.
Whole foods are in abundance, especially in Greece, and you can find them everywhere and at very good prices. Food markets are amazing and you can do your weekly grocery shopping at affordable prices.
If possible, buy organic food as they contain fewer pesticides that we, unfortunately, find in conventional food.
9. Myth: There are very few vegan options.
Truth: Thanks to the increased demand for vegan products, there are more and more choices in food, cosmetics, shampoo, clothing, etc., and in shops, supermarkets, vegan restaurants.
Don’t forget that it’s up to us, as consumers, to shape the demand. Your choice to buy vegan products, or support small, ethical businesses, makes a huge difference.
10. Myth: Cows need to be milked, so it’s ok to consume dairy products.
Truth: Another misconception is that dairy consumption is not only necessary but also beneficial for animals.
We sometimes forget that cows produce milk to feed their calves, not humans.
In order to produce an unnaturally big amount of milk, cows are repeatedly and brutally impregnated. The bigger the demand for dairy, the more the cows who are sacrificed in this painful process.
Furthermore, their calf is taken away and slaughtered after a few weeks.
You might feel a bit shocked now with one or more of these 10 myths and truths. We were also surprised a few years ago when we found out what is happening.
After the first shock, however, what is left is information and knowledge that make us take better decisions for ourselves and the animals. 💚
Do you know other myths or misconceptions about being vegan?
Do not hesitate to write them in the comments below!