When I tell people I don’t eat meat, the questions start flooding: How do you get your protein? Is that how you’ve lost so much weight? Are you malnourished? What’s actually in your “meatless” meatballs? Isn’t it more expensive? And my absolute favorite response isn’t a question, but a sympathetic tilt of the head accompanied by a “Good for you,” and then a sly, “I could never do that.”
Although the information is out there, there are a lot more myths about being vegan that travel by word-of-mouth than actual truth about the lifestyle. (Because not everyone is a vegan because of Beyoncé.)Before we get too far, let’s not forget that veganism is more than a diet, it’s a lifestyle that excludes the use of animals for food, clothing or any other purpose to protect them from cruelty and exploitation, according to the Vegan Society. So let's dispel five of the most common myths on this popular lifestyle trend.
Vegan options are questionable
To give you some perspective, there was a time when I agreed that the taste/texture of "meatless meats" could be deemed questionable. But becoming a vegan isn’t about eating more “plant-based” meat, but eating and living in a way that is kind to the animal kingdom and planet. And the options in the plant kingdom are innumerable. It wasn’t until I gave up meat that I realized how many more options there were out there. A whole new world opened up to me of amazing – from totally raw to deep fried — plant-based options. Luckily for us, we live in a time where if you’re truly craving mozzarella sticks, there’s a dairy-free and delicious option available for you with one quick search in your internet browser.
I won’t get the right nutrition
Vegans are malnourished, they say. You shouldn’t be a vegan if you’re pregnant, they say. Neither are true. I mean, have you seen Erykah Badu? The queen is a mother of three and a proud, bodacious vegan. We’ve been taught that our main source of protein comes from animals, so the belief that vegans lack it in their diets could make complete sense.
But meat has never been the only source of protein. We get our protein from amino acids, some of which can be found in animals but also in plants. Although vegans are known to be more restrictive in their diets, it doesn’t mean they lack any vitamins or minerals. Whatever your palate prefers — meat, dairy, plant-based — it’s your choice and responsibility to feed your body the nutrients it needs for sustainable health and wellness.
I’ll be healthier
This one's quite opposite of the last myth but just as common. With the craze of Beyonce’s 22-day vegan meal plan, a lot of people have jumped on the bandwagon purely for health reasons. It truly can lead to a healthier lifestyle and help alleviate chronic diseases. But don’t get it twisted, Taco Bell bean burritos and Krispy Kreme fruit pies are just as vegan as kale my friend. Being healthy is as much a lifestyle choice as being vegan. While both can go hand in hand, there are plenty of ways to stray on either side of the equation. Being healthy and being vegan are not synonymous, but you can be a healthy vegan.
I’ll lose weight
See above. As previously stated, choosing to become vegan doesn’t make you any healthier than your omnivorous counterpart. French fries are vegan. If losing weight is your goal, decide what method/diet is best for your body. If becoming a conscious participant in the planet is up there for you on the list of things to do, I would definitely suggest learning about veganism.
It takes so much work
This is sort of true, only in the sense that every change in our life requires some amount of effort. You have to be intentional in grocery shopping and meal prep, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Whether you're starting a new workout regimen or committing to a new relationship, the idea of “work” should never scare you.
Commit to living a plant-based lifestyle for you, for your planet, or to be an example for your family. I’ve always looked at my evolution into plant-based eating as an adventure. It’s not always smooth sailing and it absolutely takes time. But it’s not about a quick fix to looking better. It’s a journey of living better.
There will always be myths and misnomers, so it's our responsibility to get informed about what we are/aren’t putting into our bodies — vegan or not. What we ingest is just another way of setting an intention and affirming what we want in our lives. Do you intend to be healthy? Do you intend to eat less harmful foods? If becoming a vegan isn’t your thing, that’s completely fine too. My advice is just to always be intentional and knowledgeable about your food.