Prejudice is one of the world's greatest labor-saving devices; it enables
you to form an opinion without having to dig up the facts. -Laurence Peter
Vegans don't get enough protein (aka- "The Protein Myth") (link)
Truth: Vegans easily get enough plant-based protein in their diets
America has an obsession with protein, and the first question usually a vegan
is usually asked by an uninformed omnivore is where their protein comes from.
In the well-intentioned hope of becoming "healthy" most people forget
that anything other than traditionally proteinaceous foods such as meat contain
protein. On the contrary, almost all plant-based foods contain protein, and
as you can see in dietary
comparisons such as the one at SoyStache, a vegan diet offers TONS of easily
obtained protein sources. It's nearly impossible to become protein deficient
if you're eating a varied diet with sufficient caloric intake.
Also, you don't risk adding dangerous levels of cholesterol into your body,
since a plant-based diet is 100% cholesterol-free, and unlike most omnivorous
diets you'll be getting a more realistic protein intake. Too much protein in
your diet causes calcium to be leeched from your bones (which is interesting
in relation to "The Calcium Myth" seen just below) and puts you at
risk of kidney disease, kidney stones, colon cancer, osteoporosis, and other
Additional Resources: VRG,
For a metaphorical look at "The Protein Myth" check out this
article. To learn about the big fat lies behind the Atkin's diet (and other
dangerous high-protein fad diets) look at this
PDF article (It's worth the download).
Myth: Vegans don't get enough calcium (aka- "The Calcium Myth") (link)
Truth: Vegans easily get enough plant-based calcium in their diets
This myth you can pretty much thank the dairy industry for. Thanks to years
of dairy-sponsored "health information", and the blatant lies behind
the "Got Milk" ad campaign, people seem to be more convinced than
ever that sufficient calcium only comes from cow's milk. Like protein, it's
almost impossible to become calcium deficient if you're eating a varied diet
with sufficient caloric intake. Take a look at the dietary
comparison of calcium in foods at the SoyStache site and you'll see how
easy it is to get sufficient calcium in your diet almost without trying! Like
animal-based foods rich in protein, dairy-based foods are loaded with cholesterol
and are known to cause anemia, food allergies, cancer, heart disease, diabetes,
and ironically enough, lactose intolerance and osteoporosis. Interestingly,
studies have shown that due
to high protein content, dairy consumption actually helps cause calcium loss!
For healthy bones and a healthy calcium intake you can switch to a plant-based
diet, quit smoking, make sure to exercise, avoid excess salt, and get your
D from the sun. (If you're feeling extra motivated, learn about phosphorus
ratios in food and how they effect your blood's pH balance and calcium usage.)
Additional Resources: VRG,
vegan diet is a health compromise (link)
Truth: A vegan diet is the healthiest choice possible for almost anyone
For many this is a deeply rooted prejudice, even among the vegetarian and vegan
community. In the US we are constantly inundated by misleading claims made by
the meat and dairy industries, and after a lifetime of such indoctrination even
the most well-intentioned veggies can find themselves worried that their diet
may negatively affect their health. Like all myths, just a little research proves
this to be false.
While there are always exceptions to the rule, human bodies flourish when eating
a well planned plant-based diet. (A poorly planned vegan diet is
usually the scapegoat for people who try vegetarianism/veganism but "don't
feel healthy". It should go without saying, but any diet should be thoroughly
researched before undertaking.) The goal of eating is to obtain certain vitamins,
minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, etc. and to get sufficient calories to sustain
our activities. When you look at eating in such an abstract way, and give
any preconceived notions about which specific foods seem to be the only way
to obtain those certain essential nutrients, you're ready to really understand
4 food groups were created by
the USDA so people didn't have
to worry about the specifics of their nutrients. Instead of looking at a huge
foods contain what necessary nutrients, people were able to simplify things
by looking at a table with just 4 sections, each with a recommended daily
of foods. While this may simplify our lives, it's also trained us to think
of nutrition as FOODS instead of NUTRIENTS.
When you look at what nutrients are contained in plant-based food compared
to what our bodies need, it's obvious that a vegan diet is plentiful in good
(vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc.) and low on the junk (saturated fats, cholesterol, hormones/antibiotics, etc.). Animal-based sources of the good stuff (protein, calcium, etc.) are also loaded
with the junk, a problem vegans don't have to worry about. (The
only deficiency vegans are at risk for is the vitamin B12. Although,
when you discover B12 is a bacteria and animal-based foods contain B12 only due to bacterial
it makes taking a supplement sound like a smart idea all around)
One of the main precepts of a vegan lifestyle is to do the least amount of harm,
and that most definitely includes oneself! A varied vegan diet is not just good
for animals and the earth, but is the absolute healthiest possible diet for
Additional Resources: Vegan
Dietetic Association, VeganHealth.com
Vegans eat weird/unappetizing/hard to find and prepare foods (link)
Truth: Vegans have a wide variety of "normal",
and delicious food choices
This idea comes from the "different means wrong" school of thought
and can prevent everyone from discovering new foods that they might find very
tasty. In any typical American dining setting there is usually a well known
selection of foods that are vegan safe, but since a plant-based diet eliminates
many foods, vegans often become more open minded to new food options. (A good
example is nutritional
yeast, which is not commonly found in an omnivorous diet. It has a cheesy,
nutty taste and can be used for anything from a thickener, a condiment, or an
excellent "cheese" sauce. I much prefer nutritional yeast "mac & cheese"
to traditional mac & cheese, but I might have missed out if I was afraid
of trying "weird" foods.)
Many ethnic restaurants such as Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, and Ethiopian
(to name a few) have TONS of vegan options and will widely broaden the range
of food you enjoy. At fast food places vegans can order veggie subs, bean or
veggie burritos or wraps, french fries, baked potatoes, fresh fruit, steamed
vegetables, pasta with marinara sauce, fruit smoothies, veggie burgers, fruit
turnovers, and salads with Italian or vinaigrette.
At home (or at a veg friendly establishment) a vegan's choices are unlimited.
Like those with omnivorous diets, not all vegans eat the same way. Some do eat
a lot of non-traditional foods like tofu, other soy products, but many vegans
eat a lot of traditional, "normal" foods. It's common to take an almost-vegan
dish, such as cheese lasagna or bakery items, and replace the offending ingredients
with plant-based ones instead. Surprisingly these newly renovated favorites
can end up tasting very similar to their meat/dairy/egg containing counterparts.
There are even vegan chefs, upscale
vegan feasts, and vegan fast food
restaurants that help prove that plant-based cooking can be every bit as
yummy, creative, and easily obtainable as any traditional foods. Vegans can
also easily do their shopping in any chain grocery store, and whole/health food
stores provide lots of additional choices.
Additional Resources: VRG Guide
to Fast Food, Fast
Food Nation, Buy vegan treats!
Vegans (and/or Animal Rights activists) are violent terrorists (link)
Truth: Vegans are humans and come in all degrees of
non-violent and violent tendencies
Vegan is not synonymous with violent. We're not all ALF members.
Since veganism fosters a respect for all life (not just animals), it is absurd
to come to
conclusion that violence is the only method a vegan would use to affect change.
This is also a hypocritical stereotype, in that vegans choose to actively
lessen the violence and murder in our world, while omnivores continue to support it.
That being said, one method of attempting to bring about change, for vegan
and non-vegan causes alike, is called direct action. Rather than symbolic
(like protesting) or indirect actions (like letter writing), direct action
dives headlong into the problem. In the animal rights community an example
action could be breaking into an animal testing lab to free animals and maybe
even cause some financial hardship by destroying equipment or property. I
not condoning or condemning this form of activism, simply clarifying. This
sort of direct action is used not just by "butcher bombing" vegans
(I've actually heard this), but by defenders of civil, environmental, political,
and other rights. Being a vegan does not mean a person is involved with animal
rights, and definitely does not mean they participate in violent acts.
Vegans are all ____ (insert slur here) (link)
Truth: Vegans come from all different walks of life, and despite their unifying
vegan beliefs, we all live varied lives.
Lately I've been seeing more of this
stereotyping, but it seems to be directly in proportion to the increased exposure
of veganism to the omnivorous world. Rather than learning what veganism encompasses,
some people feel it should be written off entirely and summarized with one-liners.
Commonly overheard slurs include "all vegans..."; eat tofu, are
hippies, deify animals, don't change anything, are non-violent, are weak
and/or very thin, are tree-huggers, know less about nutrition than omnivores,
eat only a few foods... and the list goes on. It's true that, by definition,
vegans (not to be confused with total-vegetarians or vegetarians) have made
their lifestyle choice because of moral reasons. We all share the common
of wanting to do "the least amount of harm and the most amount of good".
Beyond that vegans are as different as any other group of individuals! We
in different body sizes, political affiliations, occupational backgrounds,
and religious denominations. We eat widely varied diets, have different levels
environmental participation, different outlooks and goals in life, any aspire
to be many things. Lumping all of the millions
of vegans together is as intelligent as racism, sexism, or ageism. (But
then again so is that lifestyle some people defend!)
Vegans think animals are the same or better than humans (link)
Truth: Vegans recognize that animals are sentient
beings and afford them the respect that deserves
In the same way that parents do
have a favorite child, vegans do not all prefer animals to all humans. People
are quite able to focus their concern not just on their own species (a novel
but to branch out in other directions. Additionally, each person has their
own set of innate characteristic which leads them in those other directions.
(or vegan) might have lost a loved one to cancer, and so their desire to help
others might naturally lead them to get involved with a cancer research organization.
Some vegans, after learning that there
are virtually no Federal laws protecting "food animals", may
be compelled to help farm animals. It is a matter of
a) what we
as individuals feel moved by, and b) what we are exposed to. Each person must
decide for themselves what their "callings" are, and as long as
they do not harm themselves or others, these callings should not be trivialized.
But like omnivores, vegans have a myriad of interests. Just because a person
cares for the welfare of animals does not mean that person isn't active
of a political, environmental, spiritual, or humanitarian nature.
And let's be serious here. Animal rights activists aren't asking for perks
like animal day care, or subsidized housing. They're simply
animals the respect that any feeling creature deserves- not to be brutally
abused, slaughtered, or exploited for any reason.
Eating vegan is expensive (link)
Truth: Vegetables are cheaper than meat, period. It's processed, pre-prepared
food (of any content) that you have to watch out for.
Admittedly, not the worst myth I've ever heard, but a myth nonetheless. Two
major points on this. First, the true cost.
Everything has a cost, whether it's monetary, emotional, or physical. Pretty
much everyone can agree that money is not the most important thing in
life, and yet we let monetary cost outweigh our concern for other expenditures.We
buy conventionally grown produce because it's monetarily cheaper, even though
we pay the price with barren, insecticide contaminated land. We buy shoes
Payless because we save a few dollars, even though sweatshop workers pay with
their entire lives on the other side of the globe.
Did the Grinch just effing steal Christmas?
There's some foods that are sometimes more expensive than their naughty counterparts
(organic produce vs. conventional product or vegan cheese vs. dairy cheese, for example), but it's just not that hard to
make some priorities higher on the list than money. But for those of us who
like to be thrifty or are low on money in the first place, there's point number
Vegetables and grains are cheaper than meat, period. Plants grow from the
earth. When they're ripe, they're ready to go. When meat is produced you start
plants grown from the earth,
and when they're ripe and you pick them. Theeeen you feed them into an
animal and fatten them up (insert wicked laughter here), and then you
kill it and it's ready to go. You can stop paying the
middle man anytime you're ready, and just stick with the food that comes directly
earth. You could even start buying those exotic, expensive looking fruits
you see in the specialty produce section instead of blowing several bucks a
meat. Picking all the right, yummy, inexpensive vegan foods is an art, but
one you can easily master with a little time and courage to try new things.
Point two is looking at your lifestyle to see if you're demanding a high level
of food maintenance. Do you need your food to come in a box that just needs
water added? If it's not ready in 10 minutes or less from your microwave, is
your dinner just too much work? Sorry, but you must get over it! No matter what diet you follow,
pre-prepared food is expensive (not to mention unhealthy). Tofurkys and TV dinners
cost more than veggies and grains. If you're not married to the idea of eating
vegan versions of all the old garbage you used to eat then you will reduce
your food budget. Fake hot dogs, vegan marshmallows, and soy deli slices are great treats,
but not for every day. You can be thrifty and vegan, for sure.
Additional Resources: Cheap Vegan Zine,
Cheap Vegan LJ community