Veganism is now the most popular that it has ever been, with people from countries across the world accepting Veganism at least as their diet, if not their lifestyle. However, it is still a relatively new and unpopular diet when compared to any of our traditional, non-vegan diets! Owing to this fact, veganism is still surrounded by a lot of myths. While some of these myths are thought up by people who believe veganism to be a fad or a harmful or useless diet, others are made up by vegans who end up believing falsehoods related to all of veganism being perfect! In this blog, we aim to dive deep into the various types of myths to help you get a clearer understanding of veganism that is neither too dark, nor too rosy! Speaking of Veganism, the fad…
Misconceptions about Veganism
Veganism: A trend
A trend or a fad is anything that gains a lot of popularity for a short amount of time, which is followed by a sharp decline in both its popularity and its followers. Unlike any ‘trend’ or ‘fad’, Veganism has been steadily gaining popularity for the past 50+ years!
Veganism is expensive
While most vegans will vehemently argue about the many vegan foods which are much cheaper than any non-vegan foods, the truth is that this particular myth is partially true. This myth stems from the experiences of people who’re looking for very close vegan substitutes to their preferred non-vegan foods, such as meats. Vegan alternatives such as plant-based chicken, plant-based mutton, etc are much more costly than their non-vegan counterparts because these products have been created very recently. Add to that the relatively low demand for such plant-based alternatives, especially in countries like India, and it becomes impossible for plant-based processed foods to cost the same as the non-vegan alternatives which they aim to replace.
Vegan Diets aren’t suitable for Pregnant Women and Children
Since people prefer to follow their tried and tested processes, methods and practices when it comes to the important things in life, it is completely understandable that one may not want to experiment with an unfamiliar diet when it came to one’s pregnant wife or child. However, This hesitation doesn’t mean that a vegan diet is not suitable for pregnant women or children. On the contrary, it has been proven through scientific research that a vegan diet is not only not harmful, but better for both Pregnant Women and Children, given that a proper and wholesome vegan diet is given, just as it must be with any other diet!
Veganism doesn’t work for Athletes
Just like the previous myth, this myth also has some of its roots in the hesitation to try unfamiliar processes for important events or tasks. In addition to this hesitation, false rumor spreading by various people across the internet has led to this myth almost becoming common knowledge. However, this myth has also been proven incorrect by science and by people i.e popular athletes who participate in a variety of sports and activities, who follow a 100% vegan diet!
Vegan Diet Offers Less Energy
This myth is an offshoot of a non-vegan myth as per which people believe that the dairy and animal-based products in one’s diet are the one’s which provide serious energy, while the vegan food products are just there to act as fillers and when people can’t eat non-vegetarian foods all the time. Having understood some of the roots of this myth, we’d like to clarify. Most cases where people complain about a lack of energy from consuming vegan food can be traced down to 2 main reasons. The first one is that people often fail to properly substitute sources of nutrients such as vitamins B, D, B12, etc. The other reason can be traced to a preconceived expectation of a lack of energy instead of an actual lack of energy, as science has proven through multiple studies that our minds and thinking can influence how we feel.
Eating/Being Vegan is impossible if you’re traveling abroad
A favorite of most Indians, traveling abroad presents itself as a major concern for eating vegan! This is especially a concern for people who’re either traveling abroad for the first time or do so very irregularly and generally for short periods. Just to clarify this myth and probably make a revelation, Veganism as a type of lifestyle is much more widely accepted in a lot of foreign destinations such as the US, UK, Canada, New Zealand, etc. What this entails is that not only do such foreign destinations have many vegan restaurants, but most of their popular, traditionally non-vegan food chains also offer vegan alternatives to their regular offerings.
Vegans Only Eat Processed Foods
This is a myth that stems from an incomplete understanding of a vegan diet. This myth completely falls flat when you look at people who either drop non-vegan foods or switch to their natural alternatives. Such alternatives are completely natural and hence not processed at all, which is something which can seldom be said for any non-vegan foods. However, there are situations where this myth is partially true. These are situations where people are looking for exact alternatives to their favorite non-vegan foods such as plant-based meats. While such foods are still healthier than their non-vegan counterparts, such foods are almost always processed, and hence while Vegans don’t only eat processed foods, it is true that some vegans eat some processed foods, especially transitioning vegans who intend to make their transition to veganism easier.
You Need Meat For Muscle Building
This myth has been based on active propaganda by the meat industry and by peoples’ hesitation to an unfamiliar diet. The meat industry has backed and created many campaigns and even researches to force upon us the false conclusion that meat is essential for muscle building. However, it has been scientifically proven that vegan diets also contain all of the protein and other essential nutrients which are essential for the process of muscle building.
Only Vegans need Supplements
To begin this point, we’d like to clear the image of supplements, since they’re generally considered to be unnatural, artificial, and hence harmful for our bodies. However, in reality, supplements are the same vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that our bodies need to function. Supplements exist only to fill in the gaps in our nutrition and do not cause any harm if taken at the prescribed doses. Coming to supplements in a vegan diet, there are few nutrients such as Vitamin B12 that are generally not available in most vegan food products. Hence it is recommended that one take such supplements to ensure complete and wholesome nutrition. In our opinion, taking some supplements with an extremely healthy diet is much better than having an unhealthy diet and not taking supplements!
Vegan food isn’t filling
This myth is based on an improper understanding of what makes food filling. Food is filling depending on its fiber, protein, or water content. However, people tend to believe that foods such as various meats are filling because of the heavy feeling which they feel after consuming since people generally confuse this heavy feeling with feeling full.
Tofu and Soya contain Estrogen, which gives you cancer
A complete misunderstanding, Tofu, and Soya do not contain any Estrogen, which is an animal hormone. What they do contain are phytoestrogens, which is a plant-based hormone. Contrary to animal estrogen, plant estrogen is not harmful to humans and has instead been proven to be beneficial for our health.
People With Food Allergies Can’t Be Vegans
This myth also is completely false. On the contrary, people generally turn vegan to avoid meat or dairy-based allergies. While it is true that some vegan foods do contain nuts or other ingredients which are allergens, there are always vegan options for people looking to avoid allergies, while the same can not be said for non-vegan foods.
Some ill-founded reasons to not go vegan
Animals don’t feel pain
A misconception that comes from having had little to no interaction with any animal apart from humans, this idea is obviously not true. Instead of explaining why and how animals feel pain, we’d suggest that you google - animals' pain or animals crying to see the evidence for yourself.
We are naturally carnivores
While looking at someone’s teeth and convincing them that they’re meant to be carnivores is relatively easy, there is a lot more behind why we have canines, to begin with, and why we are not natural carnivores. The presence of canines can be traced to a time when humans were forced to eat other animals due to the shortage or absence of other alternatives. However, had we been natural carnivores, then our health would not take an extremely adverse toll from the consumption of dairy or meat-based products, something which has been demonstrated and proved by multiple scientific research papers.
Soy harms the Environment and Rainforests
This particular myth is factually correct. However, the fact that vegans are targeted for this is incorrect, since people are generally misguided about the actual usage of soy. Most of the soy that’s produced is used for animal feed, and not for direct human consumption. Hence people who consume meat-based products end up consuming a lot more soy than vegans!
And Finally, one myth that has been created by the vegan community at large
Being vegan guarantees good health
In the good old days, when vegan options were very few, a regular vegan diet would mostly consist of fruit and vegetable-based foods and meals. However, with the increasing popularity of veganism across the world, the number of plant-based alternatives to products such as meats, confectionaries, etc has skyrocketed. This means that there are now an extremely large number of vegan food options which, though probably still relatively healthier than their non-vegan counterparts, are still highly processed, and hence harmful for human health. Therefore, while processed plant-based meat alternatives are generally better than animal-based products, they should be looked at as stepping stones to getting to a healthy, all-natural diet and not as the destination itself. In short, processed plant-based meat products should be used by transitioning vegans to make their switch to veganism easier, and not as permanent replacements to their regular, generally unhealthy diets!