Despite veganism’s countless benefits, only 1.1% of the world’s population currently embraces this lifestyle. Often, people are reluctant to embark on a vegan life journey because of societal beliefs and misconceptions. For instance, many have an aversion to veganism because it provokes cognitive dissonance—the state of having two contradictory beliefs at one time. They may love the taste of meat while also knowing it is one of the major causes of greenhouse gases. This contradiction is uncomfortable and leads them to question the extent to which they are living according to their values. It also leads to the instant acceptance of a myriad of myths about veganism, some of which are listed below.
Veganism Leads to Inadequate Protein Consumption
Contrary to common belief, plant based diets can contain the same amounts of protein as omnivore diets. Foods such as lentils, chickpeas, tofu, and beans provide the body with all the vital amino acids—the building blocks of protein. Experts recommend that the average sedentary adult consume 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight. This amounts to around 45 grams for women and 55 grams for men. One cup of chickpeas has 39 grams of protein, which in itself is very close to the recommended daily total.
Vegan Diets Lower Testosterone
Another common myth regarding vegan diets is that they lead to reduced testosterone levels. Testosterone is a vital hormone that regulates the sex drive, bone mass, muscle mass and strength, fat distribution, and more. So long as you consume a balanced diet that includes adequate amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and zinc, a vegan diet has no negative effect on testosterone levels. A 2018 study revealed that veganism can actually help increase testosterone by boosting quality sleep. Correlations between sleep and testosterone levels exist, and study after study has shown that adopting a healthy sleep cycle is a pillar of maintaining healthy testosterone levels.
Vegan Diets Are Plain
Many people believe that vegan cuisine is basic and bland, and that it lacks diversity. However, vegan cookery can be diverse, creative, and definitely flavorful. Thanks to numerous herbs, spices, sauces, and cooking techniques, vegan cuisine can be as exciting, tasty, and varied in texture as meat-based diets. Several cultures worldwide (including the Ethiopian, Mexican, Mediterranean, South Indian, and Korean culinary cultures) feature vegan dishes prominently in their vast list of culinary delights.
There Are Few Health Benefits to a Vegan Diet
EPIC-Oxford discovered that both vegetarians and vegans have lower risks of developing all cancers. They also have lower death rates from both pancreatic and lymphatic cancers. Countless benefits are afforded by vegetables such as broccoli, kale and cabbage, which have been associated with lower risks of developing colorectal, lung and stomach cancers. Meanwhile, carrots and sweet-potatoes have been linked to a minimized risk of developing breast cancer. Furthermore, fiber-rich foods help eliminate an excess of hormones that can lead to prostate and breast cancers.
Vegan Diets Are Fattening
Because vegan diets are based on whole foods, ingredients are mostly unprocessed. This means that there are much less saturated and unsaturated fats as well as reduced harmful chemicals in each meal. Additionally, their high fiber density boosts satiety and reduces cravings, making it easier to cut back on calories. All these factors make weight loss much easier and more effective. They also lower cholesterol, which leads to lower risks of developing cardiovascular diseases. Of course, if you consume a diet that is high in refined foods such as chips, cheesy sauces, and deeply fried foods, then it may be difficult to keep your weight off.
Vegan Diets Lack Vitamin B12
Having a lack of Vitamin B12 is not an exclusively vegan problem, though vegans do have a higher risk of having low B12 levels. B12, also known as cobalamin, is required by all animals for DNA synthesis and the prevention of anemia. Many people in the developed world (including omnivores) are B12-deficient, with some not knowing that this issue can cause fatigue and a general feeling of unwellness. The good news for vegans is that there are a plethora of sources of Vitamin B12—including fortified nutritional yeast, marmite spreads, fortified cereals and plant milk, food supplements, and some plant-based meat and seafood alternatives.
Despite the prevalence of so many harmful myths, veganism has continued to gain popularity and acceptance in recent years. More people are adopting plant-based diets for health, environmental, and ethical reasons. Thanks to technological and culinary advances, vegan diets are easier to adopt and substitute for meat-based foods.