Plant-based foods are becoming quite popular nowadays thanks to celebrities like Rihanna and Brad Pitt who are strong advocates of this cruelty-free lifestyle. After being announced as a part of Coachella festival’s lineup for spring 2018, Queen Bey also turned to her Instagram followers to help her get back to veganism for a month and hop onto the plant-based wagon with her.
Even though Beyoncé isn’t a full-time vegan, many other celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres have been practicing the lifestyle religiously for health and ethical reasons. If you’re thinking of following in these celebs’ footsteps, here are a few things you need to get straight about veganism before getting started.
MYTH: Vegans Don’t Eat Enough Protein
One common misconception about veganism which puts people off is the lack of protein in the diet. The truth is that there are a number of good plant-based protein sources such as nuts, seeds, legumes, beans, soy products, and whole grains which can help you reach the daily protein quota without even touching the meat.
It is true that plant proteins are not considered complete since they don’t contain all of the essential amino acids that can be found in meat and dairy but, as long as you incorporate a wide variety of vegan protein sources in your every-day diet (having a whole grain toast with peanut butter for breakfast and rice and beans for lunch, for example), you should consider all your bases covered.
MYTH: People Go Vegan to Lose Weight
While it is true that eliminating certain foods from your diet like meats and dairy, which are high in cholesterol, may lead to some weight loss, it isn’t always the case. Previous studies have found that a plant-based diet can shrink your waist but it isn’t recommended to under-eat or cut out carbs while following a vegan lifestyle.
It is still possible to gain weight on this diet (after all, French fries and Oreos are also considered vegan), if you don’t watch the quantity and quality of your meals. If you have a fairly clean diet consisting mainly of whole grains, beans, nuts, fruits, and vegetables, it’s highly unlikely to put on weight – but as soon as you add processed carbs, sugar, and unhealthy fats into the equation, that’s where things start to go awry.
MYTH: It’s Completely Healthy to Eat ‘Fake’ Meats
Not everything that’s vegan is healthy. There are plenty of ‘fake’ meat alternatives on the market which are plant-based but claim to have similar taste and texture as real meats. In order to achieve this taste, the meat impersonators are loaded with sodium and other chemicals which are not good for your heart and blood pressure. Have you been eyeing those ‘healthy’ veggie burgers on your local grocery store isle? Chances are that they’re loaded with as much as 600 grams of sodium per patty – which is almost half your daily sodium requirement.
Choosing whole foods over ultra-processed ones is a classic nutrition advice that also applies to veganism. You might be doing the animals a favor by going plant-based, but eating vegan fish sticks, fake bacon, or Gardein’s beefless ground, which are all highly-processed foods, is not the best way to look after your own body.
There is more bad news for hardcore vegans who seek out meat replacements: not all fake meats are made from 100 per cent plant-based ingredients. Some brands like Morningstar Farm which sells imitation bacon strips use egg whites as the main ingredient in their products – you’re better off sticking to the territory you’re more familiar with and choosing whole, unprocessed foods.
Myth: Vegans Don’t Need Supplements
B12 deficiency is one of the biggest concerns for people who follow plant-based diets since it is that one essential vitamin for brain health found only in animal products. So, for people who don’t eat meat or fish are coming up short of their daily vitamin B12 requirement unless they incorporate supplements into their diet.
If you don’t want to take a multi-vitamin every day, you might find a workaround in the form of fortified cereals which specifically say that they contain vitamin B12. But if you’re planning to go vegan, there is a good chance than you may fall short of other essential vitamins such as iron, calcium, and omega-3 as well, which is why it is always a good idea to take a high-quality vegan supplement as per a qualified dietitian’s suggestion.