Writing by Julie Young // Illustration by Natalia Santis
Let me start off by stating that I am a vegan and have been for over a year now. Becoming vegan has been one of the best decisions of my life and has fully changed my perspective of the world. All of the information presented below is fully supported by research and studies.
Media coverage of veganism has greatly increased in recent years. Many influential people are becoming vegan and there is no doubt they are loving it. Even Beyonce mentioned her 22 day plant-based diet after which she stated, “I felt so incredible. I still eat meat and it’s all about balance, but absolutely I make better choices.” Contrary to many misconceptions, going vegan can have many health benefits. Here are some of the common myths about a vegan diet, debunked!
1. Vegan diets do not include enough calcium. This is wrong. A lot of industries push people to eat dairy products because they contain high amounts of calcium. Many people don’t realize that lots of vegetables including dark leafy greens have tons of calcium as well! 3½ of kale has 315 mg of calcium–more than a glass of milk! Sesame seeds are also a great way to get in some calcium, with 351 mg per ¼ cup. Instead of drinking cow’s milk, try opting for a dairy-free alternative like Almond Breeze, which contains 455 mg calcium per 1 cup, almost 50% of the calcium content in 1 cup of 2% fat milk.
2. Vegans do not get enough protein. Many people think we need abundant amounts of protein; in reality, it all depends on your lifestyle–for example, a sedentary women only needs about 46 grams a day. If you are filling your body with the right food and you are eating enough this shouldn’t be a problem. Some great examples of high protein vegan foods include beans, tofu, peanut butter, veggie burgers, whole wheat bread, or seitan (what is this?) These foods can also be quite cheap. Vegans may have 99 problems, but lack of protein definitely isn’t one!!
3. Vegans do not get the proper nutrients they need to live a healthy lifestyle. Some people picture vegans as being pale with purple fingernails. Another myth! According to the book “Plant-Powered Diet” by Sharon Palmer, “research shows most vegans have a diet richer in vitamins and minerals than do non-vegetarians.” Sure, vegans may lack nutrients if they don’t include a wide range foods including fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates in their diet, but this is true for everyone, not just vegans!!
Diets high in meat and animal products have been linked to diabetes, which more than 23 million Americans suffer from. Eating a heavy amount of eggs may also contribute to higher cholesterol which can lead to clogged arteries. If you have no desire to become vegan that is fine, but a diet rich in plant-based whole foods may be worth considering to achieve optimal health. If you are interested in more about the benefits of veganism I recommend watching the documentaries Forks Over Knives or Vegucated.[share]