The number of products with plant-based claims has risen over the last few years, and many large companies have begun to invest in the plant-based sector. Target and Kroger, for instance, are adding more vegan products to their shelves while major food manufacturers like Danone have recently acquired plant-based food companies.
Although people are eating less meat than they used to, the number of individuals who identify as vegan is still less than 10% of US consumers. So, what is holding individuals back from adopting a plant-based diet? Here are six common myths that may turn people away from going vegan, along with facts to refute the misconceptions.
Myth #1: Plant-based diets are only for people who care about animal rights.
Most individuals who eat plant-based are motivated for reasons related to health rather than animals and the environment.
Myth #2: You won’t get enough protein on a plant-based diet.
A review of research by the American Dietetic Association concludes that vegan diets are nutritionally adequate, including for protein needs. A vegan diet provides plenty of opportunity to consume an adequate amount of protein through foods such as legumes, grains, seeds, and nuts. Furthermore, Americans have arguably overemphasized the need for protein. Americans eat much more protein compared to the average protein intake globally, and research suggests a high-protein diet may actually pose risks to one’s kidney and bone health.
Myth #3: Carbs should be kept to a minimum or avoided entirely.
Extremely low-carb diets can cause grogginess, headaches, and halitosis, among other issues. The USDA recommends that 45 to 65 percent of one’s diet comes from carbohydrates. Many high carb foods, like whole grains, fruits, and veggies, provide the body with essential nutrients that are harder if not impossible to find in animal-based foods. In addition to fat and protein, carbs qualify as a “macronutrient,” one of the body’s primary sources of energy. Hence, it is more important to regulate the type rather than the amount of carbohydrates one consumes. Many foods with complex carbs, such as whole grains and vegetables, are extraordinarily good for one’s health whereas many foods with simple carbs, such as white breads and sugary drinks, are not.
Myth #4: Eating plant-based is too expensive.
A study published in the Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition found that one can save about $750 a year on a plant-based diet compared with a 2,000 calorie diet that follows the federal MyPlate nutrition guidelines. In fact, one estimate showed that a starch-rich, plant-based diet is possible for under $4 a day. Further, through avoiding or reducing medical expenses from diet-related health complications, one can benefit from significant cost-savings on a plant-based diet.
Myth #5: Animal products are needed for good health.
Animal products, such as seafood, poultry, and dairy, do provide the body with many macronutrients and some micronutrients, like iron and calcium. However, one can obtain all the nutrients one needs on a plant-based diet, though supplements may be necessary.
Myth #6: A plant-based diet is boring.
It is possible to have a lot of fun on a plant-based diet. Sites such as Forks over Knives and Plant-Based Cooking offer all kinds of plant-based recipes. The fact is, even after removing meat and dairy from one’s diet, one still has a plethora of grains, nuts, seeds, and produce to choose from. Furthermore, food companies continue to innovate realistic and tasty plant-based alternatives such as the Impossible Burger, for instance.
The number of individuals identifying as vegan is still a small minority of US consumers. However, the plant-based trend is growing. Individuals who have not yet adopted a plant-based diet will benefit from recognizing some of the common misconceptions surrounding veganism. After all, a plant-based diet can be great for one’s health, the environment, and even one’s pocketbook.