These days, we hear so much about all things plant-based, yet some persistent myths about the vegan diet make people shy away from adopting this lifestyle. Being vegan has been proven to have numerous health benefits. According to the American Heart Association and National Cholesterol Education Program, vegans tend to have lower blood sugar levels, higher insulin sensitivity and have up to a 78% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes compared to meat-eaters.
Other studies have reported that diabetics who stop eating meat and opt for plant protein may reduce their risk of poor kidney function. It has also been shown that a vegan diet may provide relief to those suffering from systemic distal polyneuropathy symptoms – a condition that causes sharp, burning pain in diabetics.
Now that we’ve discussed a few of the many health benefits of a plant-based diet, let’s explore some of the common myths that may be holding you back from exploring this wholesome lifestyle — and enjoying all the delicious foods that are part of it.
Myth: The vegan diet doesn’t provide enough nutrients
Some may think that the only way to get enough nutrients in their diet is through meat and dairy, which isn’t true at all. The vegan diet is packed with many vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein. Yes, even protein. As discussed in How Do Vegans Get Their Protein? – A Guide to Plant-Based Proteins, there are many foods other than meat that are excellent sources of protein.
Beans, nuts, tofu, seeds, and grains are just a few examples of protein-rich plant-based foods that you can eat to obtain a sufficient amount in your diet. Vegetables also offer small amounts of protein that can assist with your daily intake if you eat enough of them.
When it comes to protein, more is not necessarily better, yet many Americans eat much more protein than is needed. Excessive protein can put you at risk for various cancers and diseases. Animal foods also give you the undesirable side effect of heart-clogging saturated fat and cholesterol. Plant-based food can easily provide all the protein the body requires.
Myth: Eating vegan costs too much
For the same amount of money you spend on meat dairy and processed foods, you can purchase an abundance of fruits, vegetables beans, and grains. Rice and potatoes, for example are among some of the most cost-efficient items that can be purchased in your local supermarket.
By stocking up on bulk items such as beans, nuts, and grains, you can easily afford a delicious and nutritious vegan diet without breaking the bank.
Planning your shopping trip and can also help you to stay within your budget. There are many sites with eNewsletters that offer coupons. You can also explore specialty groceries like Aldi’s and Trader Joe’s for big savings. Here are 10 Creative Ways to Save Money on Fresh & Natural Foods.
Photo: Beyond Meat
Myth: It’s difficult to find vegan-friendly foods
Though it may have been difficult to find vegan-friendly foods in times past, that’s no longer the case. The world of veganism has grown exponentially over the past decade. Today, there are vegan substitutes for most any kind of animal product — milks, cheeses, meats, and even seafood.
Finding vegan food while going out to eat is easier than ever, too. Eating out with friends doesn’t mean that you have to stick to ordering boring fries or a plain salad while everyone else is feasting on flavorful and filling dishes. Many restaurants now offer vegan options, and all-vegan eateries have popped up everywhere. Even chains like TGI Fridays, Chipotle, Burger King, and others are getting on board.
Here is a list of 20 Meatless and All-Vegan Options You Can Find at Popular Fast Food Chains by One Green Planet if you’re looking for suggestions on where to go for your next dinner date that will accommodate to both your vegan and omnivore friends.
Myth: Vegans must be hungry all the time
Wrong! The point of a plant-based diet is to eat whole foods that are minimally or not processed. Though vegan foods may be less dense in calories, they’re packed with nutrients — especially compared with a traditional American diet.
Most people need between 2,000 and 2,500 calories a day. If you’re feeling hungry on a vegan diet, it may be good to keep track of your calorie intake to ensure that you’re consuming enough. If you find you need a calorie boost, a rich smoothie, some extra nuts or seeds, or an extra helping of a potato or grain dish can help.
If you’d like more suggestions on vegan foods that will help you stay full, here is a list of 10 Vegan Foods That Will Help You Stay Full by LiveKindly.
Good Planet® dairy-free cheese
Myth: Since vegans don’t use dairy products, they must have weak bones
Most people believe that calcium comes from milk and dairy products, which is false. Calcium, like iron, magnesium, and copper, is a mineral that can be found in the soil. Calcium is absorbed into the roots of plants which are then eaten by animals like cows and goats. This is what led to the belief that dairy products themselves are calcium sources.
The Dairy Council tells us that we need to consume dairy products to have strong bones, but there’s no evidence of this. Countries that have the highest intake of dairy products and animal protein also have higher hip fracture rates.
For ideas on calcium-rich vegan food combinations, here’s a list by The Full Helping.