Vegan Myths, and FAQ
Q: What is the difference between vegan and plant-based?
A: Veganism is a political activist movement that includes plant-based eating, but also a lot of other practices such as not buying/wearing wool, leather, and silk, not riding horses, and not eating honey. A lot of people are plant-based for health reasons, and vegans can eat plant-based to be healthy as well, but plant-based eating for vegans is only a small part of their commitment to animal advocacy.
Q: Do vegans have low iron and calcium levels?
A: Statistically, vegans actually have higher iron intakes than the average meat-eater! Plant-based foods such as beans, lentils and spinach are rich in iron, and often play an important role in the meal of a plant eater. (http://freefromharm.org/vegan-diets-sorting-nutritional-myths/#sthash.YPcZAsmD.dpuf) The dairy industry has advertised the false idea that the only way to get calcium is from cow milk, when in fact, it is almost impossible to be calcium deficient as long as you are eating a healthy diet. (http://sugarrocket.com/vegan/vegan-myths.php).
Q: Aren’t you always hungry/ where do you get your protein?
A: Nope! There are plenty of filling, protein-packed foods that aren’t meat, eggs, or milk-based. Sources of protein include broccoli, nut butters, beans, peas, soy, quinoa, chickpeas, tempeh, tofu, edamame, hemp, nuts, chia seeds, seitan, lentils, and even leafy greens! There are also tons of delicious plant-based substitutes for non-veg foods that you might miss, like soy cheese and veggie burgers. https://www.vrg.org/nutrition/protein.php
Q: Are your meals monotonous/do you just eat lettuce?
A: Far from it! A plant based diet can be colourful, flavourful, and varied. Oftentimes the yummy flavours we associate with animal products actually come from the spices and herbs we use, as well as how we cook our food. For example, textured vegetable protein (TVP) can be made to taste similar to ground beef by using the same marinades and grilling method that you would use to normally cook meat. Learning how to get a similar flavour to meat out of plants takes practice, but it is a fun and delicious learning experience! Check out our vegan cookbook for some simple, affordable recipes.
Q: What is environmental racism and why does being vegan help to combat it?
A: While pollution exists everywhere, certain communities that are disproportionately people of colour and low-income, are affected by the animal agriculture business. These communities are located near slaughterhouses, factory farms, and processing plants that fill the air, water, and soil with harmful contaminates, putting the health and wellbeing of residents in danger. Such facts are an inherent part of the factory farming system. If the demand for such animal products continues to grow then the communities that are negatively affected the most will continue to suffer at the hands of this flawed system. Certainly, plant foods may also be tied to harmful pesticide use and forest leveling, but an inordinate amount of grown plant foods go to feed the animals in the factory farming business– to choose a vegan lifestyle significantly reduces one’s pollution footprint. The food that we eat everyday is an opportunity to vote with our wallets about the kind of environmental practices that we want to support. By choosing a plant-based diet one has the chance to stand in solidarity with the communities that are being negatively affected by environmental racism by not contributing to the harmful practices that perpetuate it. (http://www.foodispower.org/environmental-racism/ )
Myth: You can’t be muscular and vegan.
Truth: Tell that to Patrik Baboumain, winner of the European powerlifting title in 2012, and voted Germany’s Strongest Man in 2011! Patrik won all of his titles on a whole foods, plant based diet. Venus Williams, former #1 tennis world champion is also vegan!
Myth: Vegans can’t eat anything fun
Truth: As veganism has become more widespread, an increasing number of food stores and eateries are offering meat and dairy-free versions of your most decadent cravings. While you don’t need these specialty foods to thrive on a plant-based lifestyle, plenty of options are available; poutine, pizza, coconut bacon, mac n’ ‘cheeze’… the sky’s the limit!
Myth: I could never be vegan– I don’t have the time/money/energy to change my eating habits
Truth: If you are deciding to transition to a plant-based diet try the rule of threes: think of 3 meals that you already make that are plant-based (like pasta with marinara sauce for example). Then, think of 3 meals that you already make that can be made vegan (like stirfry– chicken can be swapped out for beans or tofu, beef stock for veggie, etc). Finally, find 3 new plant-based recipes that you’re excited to try out! Check out our cookbook or some of our vegan blog suggestions for some delicious vegan recipes. Veganism IS a big change from the standard American diet, but if it is approached as a fun and beneficial challenge then the journey is a joyous one. The community is only growing, and linking up with other vegans around you is a great way to meet new people and create a local network and support system.
Myth: Vegans are all pushy activists
Truth: As veganism has become more widespread, many people are choosing to opt into a plant-based lifestyle for a variety of reasons. A plant based diet is beneficial to the environment, to one’s health, to support food systems security and the environment, and animal welfare. Vegan activism oftentimes makes people uncomfortable because it forces them to confront commonly held, contradictory beliefs (ex. “I love animals– but I eat them”). Friction against the status quo is what makes radical activism effective.