Vegan myths and misconceptions are not exactly in short supply, so we thought it would a decent idea to put together a list of some of the biggest…and then bust them once and for all.
Ready for number one on our vegan myths list? Great, let’s get to it!
- Being vegan automatically makes you healthier
- All vegans are calcium deficient
- Being vegan means being hungry all the time
- Going vegan means automatic weight loss
- Vegans never get sick
- Being vegan is hard
- Vegans are all weak, frail, pathetic little things
- Vegan food is nasty
- Vegans don’t get enough protein
- Pregnancy and veganism don’t mix
- Kids need animal products to grow
- Being a vegan is way too expensive
- Vegans are pushy and preachy
- Vegan myths – busted!
Being vegan automatically makes you healthier
This is one of those unfortunate vegan myths that we wish were true, but sadly it isn’t. Being vegan can be extremely unhealthy, in fact.
Veganism means that those of us who choose to become vegan are living in a way that removes exploitation and cruelty to animals – whether that be for food, clothing or any other reason – as much as possible from our lives.
So, we could, if we choose to, live our entire lives eating nothing but potato chips and still be vegan – not exactly healthy, I’m sure you’ll agree.
The vegan junk food market is growing along with the amount of people choosing to switch to an animal-free way of living. Therefore, it’s important to remember that just because what you eat may be good for our furry, feathery and fishy friends, it doesn’t automatically mean that it is good for you.
FACT: Following a vegan diet can be extremely unhealthy if you choose to eat processed foods rather than what we advocate here at happyhappyvegan.com – a whole-foods, plant-based diet.
So, steer clear of the junk and opt for something that actually looks like food, not something that has come out of a lab!
All vegans are calcium deficient
Just because vegans choose not to drink milk or eat other dairy products, many people wrongly assume that they are lacking in calcium.
This simply isn’t true. In fact, although high in calcium, milk has an extremely poor absorption rate, making it an inefficient way for our bodies to get the calcium that we need for healthy teeth, bones, muscles and nervous system.
Many cruciferous vegetables (think kale, cabbage, collard greens etc.), on the other hand, tend to be both high in calcium and the mineral is readily bioavailable, meaning that our bodies absorb the calcium more readily.
So, providing you eat a natural whole-food, plant-based diet that contains plenty of green leafy vegetables, your calcium levels will be just fine. Even if you fall into those groups – mainly children and woman over 50 – who need extra, plant-based calcium supplements are available to keep your levels up to scratch.
FACT: Green leafy vegetables have a high amount of calcium in them, so vegans can rest assured that their bone health will not be adversely affected provided they get enough of these wonderful veggies.
Kale, for example, has more calcium per 100g than 1% fat milk (150mg compared to 125mg), and the rate in which our bodies absorb the calcium from the green stuff is far higher than it is for milk. Win/win! (Find out more about kale nutrition here).
Being vegan means being hungry all the time
Not so. In fact, it is relatively easy to feel satiated whilst following a vegan diet providing you take on board enough water and a good combination of healthy fats and food that is high in fibre.
Going vegan and sticking to a whole-food, plant-based diet doesn’t mean that there is no room for snacking, either. It’s simply that your choice of snack will be different.
Whether that’s a bag of nuts, raisins or a plant-based snack you’ve put together yourself, the fact remains that you need never be hungry as a vegan.
FACT: Providing you are drinking enough water and eating at regular intervals throughout the day, there is absolutely no reason why you should feel any hungrier on a vegan diet than one that includes animal products.
Be sure to get enough healthy fats from sources such as nuts, seeds and avocados along with plenty of high fibre foods and you’ll feel perfectly satisfied all day long.
Going vegan means automatic weight loss
Many people advocate the vegan diet as a way of dropping a few extra pounds, but it doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to get into that little black dress as soon as you leave animal products on the shelf.
As we repeat over and over here at happyhappyvegan.com, vegan diets can vary enormously these days thanks to the amount of choice available to those who want to be meat-free.
Junk food is junk food, regardless of what it is made of, so consuming piles of unhealthy stuff – whether it comes from animals or not – is not going to get you down to your ideal weight in a hurry.
If you want to lose weight, be mindful of what you are putting into your body. Stick to low human interference foods, i.e. if it comes in a packet and is smothered in marketing, the chances are good that it’s not going to be that healthy.
Opt for our beloved whole-foods, plant-based diet instead. That way you can eat as much as you like and you’ll probably lose weight, too.
FACT: Not everyone eating a vegan diet will lose weight, especially those who continue to eat and drink highly processed junk foods.
If you are serious about dropping a few pounds, go for foods that look like they’ve come from a tree or straight from the ground. If it’s packaged and marketed, it’s probably not going to help you lose weight.
CHECK OUT OUR LIST OF OVER 300 VEGAN QUOTES, SLOGANS, AND SAYINGS NEXT!
Vegans never get sick
Hmm, this is one of those vegan myths that is largely touted by vegans themselves…shame on you!
Of course vegans can fall ill. If we didn’t there would be a whole lot more of us around as the years go by.
However, the fact remains that if you stick to a whole-foods, plant-based diet, your likelihood of contracting serious illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and even cancer, are greatly reduced. (1)
With more and more people living longer lives, that can only be a good thing. After all, what’s the point of living to 95 years of age if the last 20 years of of your life is spent at the doctors or in hospital?
FACT: Vegans do get sick. I know. Bummer, right?
However, vegans who choose to ditch the processed junk food and consume mainly plant-based whole foods dramatically lower the risk of falling foul of some of the biggest killers affecting the western world, namely heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
Being vegan is hard
This is a vegan myth that we hear all the time. Things like, “I just don’t know how you do it”, seem to flow from people’s mouths without a thought.
The truth is, however, being vegan isn’t hard. It’s actually very easy these days.
Supermarkets have an abundance of goodness for vegans, and it’s even getting easier to eat out in restaurants as our numbers swell!
The Internet, too, has made maintaining a vegan lifestyle so much simpler than it was just a decade ago. Now there are dozens of online health food stores to buy produce from and lots of vegan bloggers giving you daily inspiration on what delicious meal you should try next. There are even forums for those who feel they need support transitioning!
So, no, sorry, being vegan is not difficult. Not at all.
FACT: It has never been easier to become vegan, and arguably it’s never been more important either.
More and more people are converting to an animal-free way of living and veganism is no longer looked upon as some sort of weird cult. Restaurants and health food stores that cater for vegans abound these days, so there’s no excuses any more. Give it a shot!
Vegans are all weak, frail, pathetic little things
Hahaha, really? Where have you been living lately? Under a rock? As vegan myths go, this one’s a doozy.
There have never been more vegan athletes than there are today. From football to kickboxing, tennis to bodybuilding, modern day vegans are proving that the old stereotype is well and truly wide of the mark.
FACT: Being vegan does not mean that you’ll never be able to train to a meat-eaters standard, nor will it preclude you from following your dream of becoming a professional athlete.
So, if this is the only excuse that you have for not changing over to a vegan way of living, you really do not have any excuse at all.
Vegan food is nasty
Plenty of people still screw their faces up whenever you mention that you’re a vegan.
Their automatic assumption is that you simply graze on salad leaves all day…every day. (Not that there’s anything wrong with salad leaves, no veg prejudice here! Check out our vegan salad recipes roundup for proof.)
The truth, however, is somewhat different. In fact, it’s more than somewhat – it’s a whole world of difference to whatever image the masses are conjuring up in their minds.
Vegan food is tasty – not nasty – and the choice that we have available to us these days is vast.
Fancy a plant-based pizza? There’s a vegan version of your favorite pie. How about a vegan burger? Yep, we’ve got those covered, too. Ice cream? No dairy, no problem (especially if you’ve got your own countertop ice cream maker at home).
Whatever you may think about vegans, don’t be fooled into thinking that we’re missing out at mealtimes!
FACT: It’s not all about salad. Veganism has come a long way since the early days and now there are recipes for just about any meal you can imagine.
So, if you think that all vegan food is boring and tasteless, think again. It might just make you realise what you’ve been missing!
Vegans don’t get enough protein
Enter the “incomplete protein” myth. (2)
Many people still believe that, in order to get enough protein, someone on a vegan diet has to ensure that their plate contains all 20 essential amino acids every mealtime. However, this simply is not true.
We now know that we can eat a variety of different plant-based foods and still get more than enough protein. In fact, the majority of people are actually consuming too much protein anyway, including us vegans!
The real issue is fiber, or lack thereof. Only 5% of all Americans are getting enough, which is a real concern. (3)
Switching to a whole-food, plant-based diet can help you get enough fiber and protein. So, what are you waiting for?
FACT: The average recommended daily intake of protein is currently listed at 42g. However, non-vegetarians are going way off the chart and consuming close to 80g on average. Vegetarians and vegans, too, are getting more than they need – around 70% more!
In America today, 97% of the population are getting enough protein – regardless of whether they are vegan or not. So, when it comes to protein, consider this myth BUSTED!
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Pregnancy and veganism don’t mix
Obviously, adequate nutrition during pregnancy is absolutely essential and its importance should never be underestimated.
However, those adequate nutritional levels CAN be found in a whole-foods, plant-based diet providing that you are getting enough calories and the right quantity of specific nutrients such as B12, iron, vitamin D3 and omega-3.
Consulting a reputable nutritionist who specializes in prenatal nutrition is prudent and they will be able to best advise you on how to continue with the lifestyle you love and have a happy and healthy pregnancy at the same time. They’ll also be able to offer advice on any postnatal vitamins you might need to boost once baby arrives, too.
FACT: Despite the recent spate of celebrity vegans ditching their diet during pregnancy, it is perfectly possible to continue living a vegan lifestyle without any adverse affects to either you or your developing baby.
Eating a balanced and varied diet during your pregnancy will ensure that you get enough nutrients, but be especially aware of things such as B12 and iron levels. Consulting a nutritionist who deals with prenatal nutrition will help keep you on the right track.
Check out our favorite books on vegan pregnancy to find out more.
Kids need animal products to grow
Children develop quickly – alarmingly so, some might say! – so it stands to reason that they need to have plenty of minerals and vitamins to help their bodies meet the challenges of growing and changing.
To say, however, that children cannot get all of the goodness that they need to thrive from a plant-based diet is quite plainly nonsense.
As for all of us, a child’s vegan diet needs to be well-rounded and rich in specific nutrients, but can a child grow up to be big, strong, healthy and fit on a vegan diet – absolutely! (4)
FACT: Children can thrive on a plant-based diet providing their nutritional requirements are met. Parents are advised to ensure that their kids are getting good sources of vitamin B12 and D, along with zinc and calcium rich foods.
Plant-based foods are highly bioavailable – meaning that the goodness is easily absorbed into our bodies – so they are the perfect vehicle for all of your child’s nutritional needs. As ever, avoid the junk food aisles and stick to the fresh produce sections and you and your children will be just fine.
Being a vegan is way too expensive
Fresh produce is just too expensive!
Have you heard that before? Well, it’s hardly surprising that so many of us think that way – regardless of whether it is actually true or not.
Thanks to the barrage of advertising pushing unhealthy foods at low prices that we are all subjected to each and every day, many believe that eating healthily will just be too expensive for their family’s budget.
However, if you consider the staple foods that make up a vegan diet – things like potatoes, grains and legumes – you’ll see that these are not all that expensive at all. And, they’re about a million times more healthy than that packaged processed junk, too!
Compare even the most expensive fruits and veggies to decent cuts of meat and you’ll see that being a vegan needn’t break the bank.
FACT: Maintaining a vegan diet needn’t be a budgetary nightmare. Think vegan pasta recipes, beans, lentils and the like and you’ll soon see that these staples are far cheaper than meat and dairy products, especially as you can buy them in bulk and store them without fear of them going bad.
The truly expensive vegan products are the ones that you should be avoiding, i.e. the processed garbage that has been heavily marketed. Stick to the good stuff and you’ll be surprised just how inexpensive eating vegan can be.
Oh, one final thing to consider is the price that you put on your health. Even if a vegan diet were a little more expensive, wouldn’t it be worth the extra cost to decrease the risk of things such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer?
Vegans are pushy and preachy
Our list of vegan myths is nearly at its end, but we couldn’t finish without including this one.
The old joke of, How do you know if someone is a vegan? Don’t worry, they’ll tell you! May still cause much hilarity amongst meat eaters, but the truth is that we really don’t have a lot of choice when you think about it.
Why? Well, if you didn’t want to eat something wouldn’t you say no to it?
The fact of the matter is that those who choose to consume animal products largely have a problem with those who don’t, not the other way round.
And, as for being pushy, most of us are generally reluctant to discuss our lifestyle because we want to avoid all the eye-rolling and vacant staring that ensues.
So, no, vegans are not – generally – either pushy or preachy.
FACT: Vegans are not – usually – as eager to talk about either their diet or their lifestyle as you may think. The fact of the matter is that we simply find ourselves in plenty of situations where it is necessary to point out that we don’t want to consume animal products, that’s all.
Would you, as a meat eater, go into a multitude of questions if someone said that they were passing on the cookies because they are on a diet? No, of course you wouldn’t. So, why treat a vegans’ decision to refrain from a certain range of products any differently?
Vegan myths – busted!
There you have it, 13 of the finest vegan myths have been put to bed for good. If you have a friend who continues to believe that any of these are true, click share to give them the low down!
If we’ve missed any out, make sure you let us know by dropping us a line or two in the comments box below.
About The Author:
David Bedford is a longtime vegan with a particular interest in nutrition and mental health. He is also a co-founder of happyhappyvegan.com.
When he isn’t sifting through PubMed or watching Dr. Greger do his thing, he’ll be banging away at a keyboard producing either copy or code. On the rare occasion when a screen isn’t in front of him, you’ll find David walking in the nearest available green space with his four-legged sidekick, Ralphie.
- PCRM | Vegan Diets Reduce the Risk for Chronic Disease | https://www.pcrm.org/news/health-nutrition/vegan-diets-reduce-risk-chronic-disease
- Jeff Novick, MS, RD | The Myth of Complementary Protein | https://www.forksoverknives.com/the-latest/the-myth-of-complementary-protein/
- Julia Belluz | Nearly all Americans fail to eat enough of this actual superfood | https://www.vox.com/2019/3/20/18214505/fiber-diet-weight-loss
- PETA | Vegan Children: Healthy and Happy | https://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/animals-used-food-factsheets/vegan-children-healthy-happy/