It is easy to feel misunderstood as a vegan. Many people cannot tell you the difference between a vegetarian, a vegan, or someone gluten-free. People make assumptions or believe misconceptions about anything they do not yet understand & the vegan lifestyle is no different. Here are a few common misconceptions about veganism:
VEGANS DON’T GET ENOUGH PROTEIN
Contrary to popular belief, meat is not the only available source of protein. Many vegetables, grains, nuts, beans, & more contain plenty of protein without the inherent health downfalls meat-based proteins can carry. With the right number of calories, a vegan can easily get all the protein they need.
VEGANS DON’T GET ENOUGH CALCIUM/ YOU CAN ONLY GET CALCIUM FROM DAIRY
Like protein, calcium is in various vegetables, nuts, grains, soy, and more. In addition, some food products are calcium-fortified, like cereals. Once again, vegans can get all the nutrients they require by consuming various plant-based foods. The same is true of all nutrients needed by the human body. We don’t need to use animals to extract calcium from the plants they eat so dairy is not only scary, it’s unnecessary.
BEING VEGAN TAKES AWAY YOUR FAVORITE FOODS
Vegan eating is easier than ever, thanks to the ever-evolving availability of plant-based products. It’s easy to find recipes or vegan substitutes for just about any foods you enjoyed in your pre-vegan days.
Online or local vegan groups are filled with new friends who can offer great recommendations for eating out at local restaurants, cooking vegan at home, or purchasing ready-made products from your local grocery store. There are also apps like Happy Cow that provide users with all the vegan restaurant options in their area.
VEGANS ARE JUDGMENTAL AND PUSHY
Many vegans are passionate about animal rights and the virtues of a vegan lifestyle, and some may take that to an extreme, but not all vegans are out to convert you. Most vegans are kind human beings trying to live compassionate lives. They are happy to share their knowledge and experiences without judgment.
A VEGAN LIFESTYLE IS JUST ABOUT FOOD
Some people choose to follow a planet-based diet, while others prefer to follow a vegan lifestyle. The difference is vast. The plant-based diet focuses solely on the food a person consumes. In simplest terms, vegans do not eat any food that comes from or exploits animals. A vegan lifestyle, on the other hand, takes this a step further by avoiding non-food products that may contain ingredients derived from animals or things that have exploited animals in any way. These items include things from clothing & beauty supplies to furniture & automobiles. Most vegans will also avoid things like zoos, as many exploit their animals for profit and house them in less-than-ideal situations.
EATING VEGAN IS TOO EXPENSIVE
The cost of a vegan grocery trip depends on your dietary choices. You may pay a little more if you prefer fast, processed, ready-made foods. Prices tend to lower, however, as vegan options become more common and competitive. Many are already on par with their meat-filled counterparts as far as price goes.
If you are more interested in raw fruits and veggies or cooking your vegan meals at home, your grocery bill may be a little less than usual. It depends on your choices, and you will always pay more for convenience.
VEGANS AND VEGETARIANS ARE THE SAME
This one confuses many people, but it is simple to decode. A vegetarian does not consume meat. No animal had to die for a vegetarian to have a meal. Still, animals are exploited and abused in the process of acquiring dairy or eggs, and their eventual fate is the same as animals butchered for their meat.
Veganism is not a diet; it is a way of life. Vegans do not consume or use any product that exploits animals. Veganism excludes any item derived from an animal, such as honey, milk, eggs, & cheese. And vegans will also avoid purchasing or using any object created or tested by using animals.
VEGAN LIFESTYLES ARE JUST A FAD
One of the first things your family and friends may think when you tell them you are going vegan is that you are probably following a fickle fad. Not only is the vegan lifestyle here to stay, but it is also steadily rising in popularity. We may not see it in our lifetime, but plant-based foods will eventually overtake meat-based foods as the go-to option.
EVERYTHING CONTAINS ANIMAL PRODUCTS
When you’re just getting started in your vegan journey it can feel like every food contains animal-based ingredients or that any item you might want or need involved animal exploitation. Animal-based ingredients pop up in the most unexpected places. You will probably find yourself standing in the middle of a store contemplating why in the world there is milk powder in a seemingly vegan product. It can be highly frustrating, but with some research regarding what ingredients to avoid, it is possible to find cruelty-free products. Apps like Cruelty-Cutter can also help you along the way.
HONEY IS VEGAN
Honey is not vegan because it belongs to bees, which are living, breathing beings. Bees create honey for their consumption, not ours. In many cases, honey is taken from the bees, giving them a sub-par substitute like corn syrup to survive on. Bee farmers also use cruel methods to keep their hives running, like pulling off the wings of Queen bees to ensure they will not escape. In other words, exploiting bees for their honey cannot be considered vegan.
PLANTS HAVE FEELINGS, TOO
Studies show that plants do not have a nervous system like animals and humans. They do not have pain receptors. They are not sentient. Their reactions to chemical stimuli or vibrations are not conscious acts but autonomic ones.
In addition, it helps to remember that farmed animals raised for slaughter consume plants and grains. On average, depending on the animal, it takes between 4-16 pounds of plants to produce 1 pound of meat. Either way, eating vegan saves more plants than a meat-based diet.
BEING VEGAN CAN RUIN YOUR RELATIONSHIPS WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY
New vegans’ relationships with friends and family can be challenging. Choosing a vegan lifestyle does not have to ruin your relationships, however. Indeed, some families or friends are not supportive. Some will feel threatened by the way your choice makes them have to justify their choices. Others do not want to feel inconvenienced by accommodating food choices. Some are worried you will try to convert them or take away their favorite foods. The best thing we can do as vegans is to live by example and encourage open non-judgmental dialogue. In the end, surround yourself with friends and family who support you and your choices, whether or not they follow suit.
VEGANISM IS BAD FOR CHILDREN
It is possible to raise healthy children on a plant-based diet. Vegan foods can & do provide kids with all the vital nutrients they need to grow big & strong. As with any way of eating, parents should ensure that their child’s diet has no deficits. That goes for vegan & non-vegan parents alike. Plenty of children living on a meat-based diet are still not getting the nutrients they need from their diet.
VEGANS ONLY CARE ABOUT ANIMALS
Everyone needs an advocate—especially those who cannot speak for themselves. Farmed animals fall into that category and are no less important than others who meet these criteria. We would not need advocates if everyone could agree on how to treat people and animals. Unfortunately, this is not the case, and people need reminders. Most vegans are highly compassionate individuals raising their voices for those who cannot speak out. That does not mean that they only advocate for animals. Animal rights are simply one of their passions.
VEGANS DON’T AGE WELL
Many factors play a role in how well a person ages but people who follow a healthy, vegan diet fare far better than vegetarians or meat-eaters. Vegans often look younger, need less medication as they age, and keep a more active lifestyle.
A healthy plant-based diet can also add a number of quality years to your life. There are some amazing plant-based athletes, advocates, and influencers well into their 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, and beyond who accredit their longevity and health to a vegan way of life.
VEGANS ONLY EAT SALAD/ VEGAN FOOD IS GROSS
No. Vegans do not wander through their lives nibbling on raw carrots and celery all day. Vegan chefs are surprisingly creative, and vegan food tastes amazing. The trick is to try new foods and recipes. You may not love every vegan food you encounter, but there’s bound to be a wide variety of foods you will love.
BEING VEGAN IS HARD
It can be challenging to begin a vegan lifestyle when you have spent your entire life doing something completely opposite. But challenging does not mean impossible. It does take a significant commitment accompanied by a lot of research and label reading in the beginning, but you will find that it becomes second nature before long.
There are an abundance of vegan food items popping up in grocery stores, restaurants, theme parks, sporting events, and more. With all of these exciting new choices it is easy being vegan.
LIFE WITHOUT MEAT AND DAIRY IS MISERABLE
This one is just plain selfish. We may occasionally miss the taste of meat or dairy products, but that does not mean life is over. The longer you stick with something, the easier it becomes. Are a few minutes of meat or dairy worth the amount of suffering or death it requires? In addition, new substitutions come out every day. Some may not taste exactly like the original, but others could fool even the most die-hard meat-eaters. The trick is to try them all.
VEGANS DON’T KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT
It is virtually impossible to maintain a vegan lifestyle without at least the bare minimum of research. Vegans work hard to educate themselves about how their decisions impact others and how to make a difference in the world. If you don’t know any vegan people in your circle of friends there are social media pages or internet groups where you can connect with one and ask them to provide some of their favorite resources.
As with any topic, plant-based diets & vegan lifestyles are not always initially understood, and there are many assumptions. Open communication is vital to learn more about any subject & lay our misconceptions to rest. However, most vegans are willing to share their knowledge and experience, so don’t hesitate to reach out.
What other misconceptions have you encountered as a vegan? Let us know in the comments.