I love talking about being vegan, I could go on and on about it for days. But nothing crushes my enthusiasm, as much as someone telling me why they can’t be vegan, or why being vegan is unhealthy and their arguments are completely not founded in reality. I’ve compiled a list of the top 5 vegan myths that I hear the most and science to back them up, because if there is anything I love more than veganism, it’s science!
Here are the top 5 vegan myths debunked!
Myth #5 | We are protein or iron deficient, or both
This one is tricky, first of all, Americans get a lot more protein than we even need, which leads to a slew of health problems. A lot of people think if you consume extra protein, you’ll build muscle quicker but science says, this is not true and actually leads to intaking more fat and calories than needed. The average American male needs around 56 grams of protein and the average female around 46 grams of protein. A half cup of firm tofu contains 20 grams of protein, so I think you can see how easy it is to get enough protein. (source) Protein rich foods: most dark green veggies, nuts, beans, tofu, tempeh. lentils, whole grains–wheat bread, brown rice, quinoa (also a complete protein), etc.
As for iron deficiency, when I was pregnant with my 3rd son, my midwife tested my iron levels and was blown away at how great my iron count was. She said she has never had a patient in her 30 years of midwifery that had that great of iron levels and maintained them the entire time. When I told her I eat a vegan diet she about fell over. But it’s true, eating a balanced plant based diet will keep your iron levels where they should be. Iron rich plant foods: lentils, soybeans, tofu, tempeh, lima beans, quinoa, fortified cereals, brown rice, oatmeal, pumpkin, squash, pine, pistacio, sunflower, cashews, unhulled sesame, tomato sauce, swiss chard, collard greens, blackstrap molasses, prune juice, just to name a few.
So if you think vegans are frail, look at Bob Harper from the Biggest Loser or Mike Tyson, Dave Scott (he holds the record for the most Ironman titles ever won) and Carl Lewis (he’s won 9 Olympic gold medals)
Myth #4 | We don’t care about humans, only animals
This one is silly! Of course we love animals and humans equally. To me, being vegan is about standing up for animals as much as it is about trying to save the planet for future generations. Humans and animals alike, we are all apart of the same ecosystem and need each other to survive. Here’s Carol J. Adams’ take on the issue as well, she’s a writer for The Washington Post and I think she says it well.
“Veganism is a social-justice movement that includes concern for animals but also many issues that affect humans. The food choices vegans make address the environmental costs of meat and dairy production, heart disease, public health crises tied to obesity, and, as Eric Schlosser pointed out in “Fast Food Nation,” poor conditions in slaughterhouses, where workers suffer more injuries than in any other industry. In fact, eating vegan one day a week lowers your carbon footprint more than eating local every day of the week.
The economic cost of systemic animal cruelty transcends shocking undercover footage taken at factory farms. Eating grain-fed cattle helps push corn prices up; high prices contributed to 2008’s food riots in Haiti, Bangladesh, Egypt and elsewhere around the world. Industrialized meat production allows infectious bacteria such as salmonella to sneak into our food supply. And treating a generation raised on cheap Big Macs will prove a fiscal challenge to Medicaid.
Caring about animals means caring about people, too.”
Myth #3 | If meat eaters didn’t eat animals they would take over the planet, it’s really just population control
Um, no. Not at all. This is a very complex issue and I will try to limit the depth that I go into with this one. The first part of this, is that a typical cow would generally have one calf, maybe two throughout her lifespan. A typical dairy cow has to stay constantly impregnated so she’s always producing milk. The average dairy cow raised in a factory farm, usually has 7 calves until her body collapses from being pregnant too much and then she’s sent to slaughter. The reason why there are so many factory farmed animals is simply because humans are making them over produce. In nature, they would not have this many babies on their own. Which also impacts the environment, because a typical grain fed cow produces 7x more methane than a grass fed cow. Grain fed cows account for 98% of beef in our current market. Then you add to that, that a cow is making 5 more babies than she would in the wild and it adds up to a lot of extra methane that wouldn’t be produced in nature in that high of quantities. It contributes to more greenhouse gases than all the cars on earth produce. All factory farmed animals deal with this as well, it’s not just cows. Then you add hunting to it. Many states have legalized wolf hunting because the wolves kill off the deer, so when hunting season rolls around the deer are sparse. Well we can’t have that, because the BILLION (yes, one BILLION animals are killed every YEAR for human meat consumption) of animals that die in factory farms aren’t enough for humans to consume, we also need to go into the woods and kill deer too. Remember that ecosystem I mentioned in the last myth? Well, that’s a big deal and we keep altering it, which is not only killing us but also the planet too.
Myth #2 | Our bodies were meant to consume meat, just look, I have canine teeth
A lot of people argue that since we have “canine” teeth, we’re supposed to eat meat. However, have you ever tried to tear through the flesh of another animal? If you have, I suspect it did not go well. Animals that have true canine teeth also have sharp claws and can kill another animal with their teeth. We can’t do this and we also can’t eat raw meat very well either. Actually, many herbivores have “canine” teeth. Panda Bears have sharper canine teeth than we do and they strictly eat plants. Other herbivores that have canine teeth are gorillas, deer, horses, antelope, hippos, wild boar/other pig species and many more.
Myth #1 | Vegan diets are just unhealthy
Studies have found that vegans have lower cholesterol, BMI and triglyceride levels than omnivores across the board – check out more details on this awesome infographic created by ethical ocean. Furthermore, the British Journal of Cancer has found vegans to be 45% less likely to develop cancer of the blood, and 12% less like to develop any form of cancer at all. (source)
What vegan myths do you hear the most?