Plant-based eating is all the rage these days and with good reason. It can be a healthy way to take care of your body and have a positive impact on the planet. But there is also a lot of misinformation out there on this style of eating. So let’s get the record straight and dispel some of these myths!
1- YOU CAN’T GET ENOUGH PROTEIN WITHOUT MEAT
As soon as you tell someone you are eating vegan, they will almost certainly reply with the question, “Well, where do you get your protein?” Culturally, we are fairly obsessed with protein and keep thinking that we need more and more to sustain ourselves. This is simply not true.
Protein is one of our 3 macronutrients (the others are carbohydrates and fat) that is made up of different amino acids. Protein is essential for growth, repair and ongoing maintenance of our bodies. However, the amount of protein we need is dramatically overestimated—often by meat companies or companies pushing super high protein products! The reality is that we need somewhere between approximately 55 and 70 grams of protein a day and that is easily achieved on a vegan diet. In addition, there have been no proven benefits of taking in higher amounts of protein than we need.
For athletes, or individuals that may have higher than average protein needs, it is still absolutely possible to meet your protein needs. Supplementation is also possible with vegan protein powders and vegan protein bars.
Another note about fake meat and some of the soy-based meat alternatives: these products often advertise themselves as being high-protein vegan options but, again, this does not necessarily mean they are healthy. They are often laden with sodium, fillers, MSG, and other chemicals that are not great for your body. So, if you do enjoy these products, do so sparingly and instead focus on all the many plant -based sources of protein.
2- VEGAN AND PLANT-BASED EATING ARE THE SAME
It is often to clarify the distinction between vegan eating and whole- food plant-based eating. A Vegan diet is simply a diet that is void of all animal products and by-products. That includes meat and fish, as well as cheese, milk, eggs, and other dairy products, and can include honey. A whole- food plant -based diet is just what it sounds like—a diet focused on whole foods. So, with this style of eating, you would eliminate all processed foods and focus solely on foods found in nature. This is certainly a healthier way to go but it is significantly more restrictive. (For more on this topic, click here).
3- SOY IS TERRIBLE FOR YOU
When it comes to soy, it is extremely important to differentiate between whole food-based soy and products that are derived from soy (e.g. textured soy protein, a common main ingredient in many commercial fake meat products). Whole food soy products are loaded with protein and a slew of beneficial nutrients including Vitamin K, Folate, Iron, and Magnesium. Soy has also been proven to help lower cholesterol. So, when it comes to come, skip all the processed soy derivatives and stick with organic, whole soy foods including edamame and tempeh, and products made from whole soy including soy milk and tofu.
4- IT IS TOO EXPENSIVE TO EAT VEGAN OR PLANT-BASED
Vegan eating is just like every other diet out there where you have control over the size of your food budget. Some easy ways to maintain vegan eating on a budget include buying food in bulk (yup, Costco carries LOTS of vegan items!), stocking up on frozen produce, and taking advantage of sales to load up on your favorite pantry and frozen food options!
5- IT IS TOO HARD TO PUT TOGETHER PLANT-BASED MEALS
If you are keeping busy scouring Pinterest for recipes, you may find a lot of delicious stuff. You also may be setting yourself up for several hours of shopping, prep work, and cooking, every day! Instead, set yourself up for success every day by focusing on simple, easy-to-make meals.
Focus on the 1 grain, 1 legume, 1 vegetable approach. For example, a quick and easy meal could be brown rice with lentils and salad greens. Or whole grain pasta with tempeh and snow peas. Remember, simple is the best way to make this transition easier.
BUT….DON’T BE AFRAID TO EXPERIMENT
That being said, there is also a lot of value in trying out some fun new recipes— ideally just not all at once! So, pick and new and exciting recipe to try out each week.