Before I gave ditching animal products a go last year, I bought into many of the myths about being vegan. In my mind, all vegans lived bland lifestyles where food tasted...well, bland. While I have since switched to just ditching meat and dairy only (fish is still on the menu), I do feel quite passionate when it comes to clearing up myths about being vegan. Here are 9 of my favorites.
1. The Food Sucks
When you live in a world of meat and dairy, this is one of the most common myths about being vegan that is hard to overcome. If you decide to ditch animal products, even for a couple of weeks, you will soon see that it forces you out of your comfort zone so hard you are made to confront the foods you never considered. There are so many alternatives to milk out there. I have since found that Frappuccinos taste better when you use almond milk. Coffee is generally just awesome when you use hazelnut milk.
2. You Live a Life of Tofu and Soy
Yeah, this is completely untrue. While tofu is a great source of protein, I hate it. There is something about the texture that makes my toes curl. Alternatives include the many, many beans out there. Then there are chickpeas, soya mince (great for fake burgers), and vegetables in general. The more you switch and experiment, the more you can avoid both of the above.
3. You Lack Protein
Seriously, meat and eggs are not the be all and end all when it comes to protein. In fact, many of us have such a fixation with both that it’s practically amazing we get enough amino acids in our diets for our bodies to make any essential proteins at all! Protein is a little bit like water; it is everywhere so we can’t avoid it! When it comes to plants, there are pulses, nuts, seeds, oats, quinoa…getting protein is not hard. You won’t lack in protein when you turn vegan.
4. You Lack Calcium
Again, this isn’t true! There are so many dairy alternatives out there that it is easy to get your fair share of calcium. All the milks I mentioned (almond, hazelnut etc) are fortified with it. Then there are dairy-free yoghurts that can help you out. Greens and black eyed peas (not the band, thankfully) are also great calcium sources. So you won’t be suffering from brittle bones any time soon.
5. It’s a Great Way to Lose Weight
Okay, so the chances are most people will ditch enough triglycerides from their animal-fat-based diet to lose weight. However, it isn’t a diet! Veganism is a lifestyle choice. If you do it right, you won’t turn into your local area’s next Kate Moss. A little loss will happen, but there is room for weight gain in any diet, including a vegan one.
6. It is Expensive
I have actually found that ditching meat and dairy is better for my bank balance. Meat is so expensive these days. As an industry that is seriously regulated, those costs continue to soar. Of course vegetables are expensive too. However, I can almost guarantee that eating less meat and dairy will benefit your bank balance rather than ruin it.
7. You Can Never Eat out
Granted, eating out is more challenging for vegans than most people. Vegetarians are well catered for, but life gets awkward otherwise. However, more restaurants are creating specialized menus and some are even dedicated to the cause. A great way to work around this is to aim for Far Eastern or Middle Eastern foods, as they often cater well to vegans. It takes a little practice, but this is a fantastic way to discover new foods.
8. Cooking is Challenging
You do have to take a new approach to cooking. However, once you get into it, it becomes quite easy. PETA has a great baking switch sheet, and somehow pancakes even begin to taste better than they did before. If you have a creative side, it is a great opportunity to experiment. Another great bonus: if you are as bad as I am with cooking chicken, you never have to worry about potentially poisoning yourself with salmonella again.
9. You Will Never Eat a Creamy Dish Again
This one really threw me at first. The thought of never eating anything even close to carbonara was a little heart breaking. Then I discovered oat cream. It genuinely is not any different to normal cream. Now you can make amazing sauces and pasta dishes once more!
While I haven’t been able to live an entirely vegan lifestyle, I do feel much better for ditching meat and dairy. It’s better for the environment, it helps me dodge the growth hormones and antibiotics found in many meat products, and it has forced me to experiment with food a bit more. Still, there is something about fish I couldn’t quite ditch. If you don’t eat meat or dairy, what are the most common misconceptions you have come across?