When you start eating more plant-based foods, you figure that the world will celebrate with you. After all, when you were growing up, adults were never more thrilled than when you were eating your greens!
However, the world doesn’t always deal well with change, and this includes small changes like the diet of one of their inhabitants. When you eat differently from your friends and family, you can feel like you're being judged. When they hear of your proclivity for seitan, they may fire back with one of these myths.
It's your call whether you decide to debunk the myths on the spot, or to start fresh by bonding over your shared loved of hummus.
1. It is not as healthy as a diet that includes meat and/or dairy.
This is a big one. People may cite their long-living relatives, or declare that we have evolved to eat meat. However, just because we can eat meat certainly does not mean that we must. There are pros and cons to all diets, and how we balance them is perhaps the most paramount thing. In addition, a recent study conducted in Italy concluded that vegans and vegetarians have a significantly reduced chance of ischemic heart disease and total cancer, which sounds pretty darn healthy.
2. Your workouts will suffer.
There is a stigma of weakness when it comes to meat-free diets, especially when we assume that strength comes from meat. NFL defensive end David Carter and ultra marathoner Matt Frazier are just two examples of high performance athletes who perform optimally on a meat-free diet. Athletes need to maximize the fuel of their food, and vegetarian and vegan diets are often concerned with quality over quantity.
3. Meatless diets are not suitable for pregnant women.
As a pregnant vegetarian with excellent blood work, I hoped that my own experience was enough to debunk this myth, but I am frequently met with concern, as if meat alone could build a human being. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends being careful about iron and B12, but there can be deficiencies in any diet, and most prenatal vitamins can help to pick up the slack.
4. You will lack in protein/B12/iron/calcium ... (the list goes on).
There are lots of myths about protein (spoiler: it’s in almost everything). Perfectly balanced diets certainly do take finesse and planning. We can’t eat the same thing every day, even if it has been declared a superfood (I’m looking at you, kale). There are fish free omega 3s and plant sources chock full of B12, like nutritional yeast. You can’t know what someone is lacking unless you follow them around all day (or they are photographing every bite that comes into their mouths, which no one needs).
5. It’s too expensive.
There are countless resources (including the vegan blog and YouTube channel Sweet Potato Soul) that show nutritious vegan meals for less than $1.50 a serving. Try the orange ginger chickpeas, I dare you.
6. You will feel deprived.
Green matcha lattes. Avocado toast sprinkled with chia seeds and drizzled in hot sauce. Peach galette with coconut whip. Tofu scramble. And those are just some breakfast ideas. Creative solutions to meat-free eating are everywhere, and they explode quickly through social media. Things like black bean brownies and aquafaba meringue clouds don’t even sound weird anymore - they sound awesome! There are many vegan and vegetarian recipes out there that can be stamped as "carnivore approved".
7. You will miss out.
What about nachos? What about a big juicy hamburger? I can say from experience that the less you eat “craveable” foods, the less they hold their ability to stay craveable. Plus, you are so busy eating things like rice noodle salad, mushroom bolognese, and stuffed sweet potatoes to compare. We all do what works for us.
We typically stay away from religion and politics as introductory conversations. We don’t want to place diet in the same category by getting worked up or drawing more lines in the sand. I'm a vegetarian, you're a meat-eater ... can't we all just get along?