Common Myths About Veganism
It seems like everywhere you look recently, there’s a discussion about veganism. From social media to scientific journals and everywhere in between - veganism is officially a hot topic. In fact, Google search trends show that queries regarding veganism have increased in search volume by an astonishing 47% in 2020! This lends credence to the idea that more and more people are becoming concerned about the effects of animal eating on our health, our planet, and the animals themselves, and are looking for more information.
But with more interest, comes more misinformation - and we’ve certainly seen a rise in “anti-vegan” sentiment, including many often-repeated and convenient myths that make veganism seem silly or untenable.
To dispel some of the misinformation floating about, we’ll tackle 5 commonly repeated myths about veganism below.
Myth #1 - Vegan food is expensive
You’ll often hear people cite cost as a reason they cannot go vegan. Certainly, there are all kinds of vegan specialty products - usually mock meats and cheeses - that carry price tags similar to conventional milk and dairy.
However, the bulk of any healthy vegan diet is going to consist of a variety of dirt-cheap staples. Whole grain cereals, rice, pasta, bread, and grains make up the base of a million different delicious and creative dishes. Add seasonal fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables, legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, and soy-based products such as tofu and tempeh and you’ve got a huge variety of cheap, and healthy meals.
The poorest people in the world eat the least amount of meat - that’s not a coincidence.
Myth #2 - Vegan diets are unhealthy
Although vegan diets are considered healthy and safe for all life stages by many top Dietetics Associations the world over, the idea that you cannot be healthy on a fully plant-based diet is a pervasive one. One of the major concerns often cited is that vegan diets lack sufficient protein. However, tempeh, tofu and seitan are packed with protein, as are nuts, seeds, beans, lentils, legumes and other staples of the diet.
All animals require protein - even the animals that you eat. And they manage to grow rapidly on the plant-based proteins we feed them. In fact, the majority of the protein eaten on the planet is plant-based, with animal products contributing only 37% of global protein.
Myth #3 - Vegan diets require supplementation
Another health concern commonly repeated is that a vegan diet requires heavy supplementation which makes it an unhealthy diet. Although many vegans choose to take vitamin B12 and an Omega3 supplement for convenience’s sake, it’s quite easy to get all the necessary building blocks of a healthy diet with just a few fortified products.
Vitamins are added to cow’s milk before you drink it, so the same vitamins can be added to almond, soy, oat or coconut milk. There are many articles devoted to adding protein, iron, omega 3s, B12, and more to your vegan diet by choosing specifically fortified or nutrient-rich foods.
Furthermore, supplementation isn’t a “vegan thing” - in fact, over three-quarters of Americans take dietary supplements each year. Supplementation only seems to be an issue for most people if they’re doing it to save animal lives.
Myth #4 - Humans have evolved to eat meat, therefore they must continue to do so
It is undeniable that the availability of nutrition from animal products certainly helped our ancestors evolve these complex, large brains that have made us the most dominant animals on the planet. However, there is new research showing that our Neanderthal ancestors ate diets far heavier in carb-rich plant foods than in meat, suggesting that carbohydrates, rather than animal foods made up the bulk of our evolutionary diet.
No matter what prehistoric humans ate, modern man is an omnivore. While an omnivore can digest both animal products and vegetation, they are not REQUIRED to do so in any specific ratio. Very large and successful omnivores, such as black bears, will eat as little as 10% meat to 90% plant foods.
Our ability to digest cooked meats doesn’t necessitate meat-eating, it simply means that we can if we choose to.
Myth #5 - Vegan diets cause more environmental harm than meat does
One of the strangest myths regarding a vegan diet that has recently surfaced is the idea that not eating animals causes MORE harm to the environment than eating them does. This is such a strange myth because according to the David Suzuki Foundation: “Livestock production accounts for 70 percent of all agricultural land use, occupies 30 percent of the planet's land surface and is responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gases such as methane and nitrous oxide.”
This idea seems to stem from the fact that vegans tend to eat more soy-based foods, and we’ve all read about the Amazon forest being clear-cut to plant more soya. In reality, almost all of the world’s soya - 80% of it - is grown to be fed to farmed animals. So when they’re clear-cutting the rainforest, it’s not for tofu, it’s for the soy meal fed to pigs, cows, and chickens all over the world.
In reality, going vegan can help you reduce your impact on climate change immensely as factory farming impacts not only emissions but land use, water use, deforestation, and pollution.
With all of the information out there about veganism today, it can be hard to separate the truth from fiction - hopefully, this article has helped clear up some of your common misconceptions about veganism. You can find more information about choosing to go vegan here at our Vegan Bootcamp!