Living vegan is much more than just a trend: one billion people around the world are vegan. Is it really as complicated and difficult as is often assumed? Protein deficiency, rainforest destruction and nutrient deficiency: We refute nine common prejudices. And many have Myths About Vegan Diets are wrong.
Live vegan? With this thought, the hair on the back of the neck of many meat lovers will spontaneously stand up.
For many this means: never again steak, sausage and pizza with double cheese , plus constant fatigue, paleness, an empty wallet and social isolation – at least if you want to believe some myths.
Vegan skeptics think: You must be missing something – without any animal products, right?
Vegan nutrition on the rise
The purely plant-based diet, to which stars like Alicia Silverstone and now 1.3 million people in Germany have subscribed (VEBU 2019), sounds like pure torture for fans of fish, meat, cheese and Co.
It doesn’t have to be that way. As with any other diet, there are advantages and disadvantages. The American Nutrition Society (ADA) published a position paper recommending a vegan diet as beneficial to health.
The World Health Organization supports this recommendation. If done correctly, vegan nutrition should even be suitable for children and pregnant women and alleviate many diseases. Anyone who eats consciously and combines cleverly, apparently, can go through life healthily – sometimes even healthier – even without animal products.
Traditional protein sources are prohibitively expensive, and vulnerable people cannot afford to buy from them. Going by the U.S. Soy News, soybean-based protein meals are a crucial technique to combat hunger and malnutrition.
And: There are now around a billion vegans worldwide, around 13 percent of the world’s population.
Reason enough for us to refute common myths and prejudices and to show that a vegan diet doesn’t just mean doing without. On the contrary!
Myth 1: Living vegan leads to protein deficiency
At first glance, a legitimate question: Where do vegans get their protein from ? The second that follows: Do vegans eat enough protein? After all, meat, fish and dairy products are our main sources of protein. Our protein requirements are often overestimated.
According to the recommendations of the German Nutrition Society , a healthy adult needs 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight per day. And this value has been calculated generously in order to ensure adequate care for all groups of people. In fact, most people in western countries consume more than the recommended amount.
A few examples show: Those who eat well-balanced can live vegan and still cover their needs very easily.
- A person weighing 60 kilograms needs 48 grams of protein a day. That is 10–15 percent of the total daily calorie requirement.
- For orientation: A steak provides 18.6 grams of protein per 100 grams. Seitan (a meat substitute made from wheat), on the other hand, scores with an impressive 28 grams per 100 grams. Closely followed by red lentils (raw) with approx. 25 grams (cooked 12 grams) and tofu with an average of 15 grams per 100 grams – a whole glass of whole milk, on the other hand, has only 6.8 grams of protein.
- However, our body can use animal protein better than vegetable protein. This is because it is more similar to our body’s own protein structure. The value of vegetable protein can, however, be increased through targeted combination in a meal. For example, beans and rice, corn and beans or soy with rice or potatoes complement each other particularly well.
Myth 2: Going vegan harms bones and teeth
Since childhood we have been told: Dairy products are important for strong bones and healthy teeth. But, is this really the truth?
It is true that there is a lot of calcium in dairy products. However, studies show that the calcium they contain does not reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Another problem is the high protein content. The more protein we eat, the more of the valuable calcium we excrete in the urine without being used. The sulfur-containing amino acids and phosphates that are contained in dairy products, but also in meat and fish, also promote an increased excretion of calcium. These effects put the actually high calcium content of milk , quark and Co. into perspective.
Therefore, try to cover your protein needs more often with plant-based foods. Beans, broccoli, nuts and rocket are particularly rich in calcium. For comparison: 100 grams of rocket contains 160 mg of calcium – 100 grams of low-fat quark contain 92 mg.
More recent findings point above all to the importance of an adequate supply of vitamin D in order to strengthen the bones. The body produces vitamin D primarily through sunlight. We only take in 20 percent of vitamin D with our food. Therefore, if possible, spend 30 minutes in the sun without a sun protection factor every three days – of course, without getting sunburn . This recommendation is for everyone – whether you are vegan or not.
Myth 3: Losing weight vegan is hard
For many, a vegan diet sounds more complicated than the tried and tested low carb or calorie counting. It could be more difficult the other way around. Because wherever meat, dairy products and many confectionery and finished goods are omitted, filling substitutes are needed.
If you don’t just rely on pasta and French fries , but on varied and wholesome foods, you automatically load a lot more healthy and low-calorie foods onto your plate: vegetables and salad, fruit, quinoa , buckwheat, avocados , nuts.
This natural diet has been confirmed in many studies and discoveries as the most successful method for losing weight. We have an example of Sarah, she discovered and lost 25 pounds in just one month with apple cider vinegar, read more about here at weight loss Sarah’s discovery.
In a new study with a plant-based diet, all other things being equal, researchers were able to report greater weight loss among the study participants. Further studies confirm this: Vegans lose weight more easily, lower their risk of diabetes and stay light even with increasing age.
Another advantage: quality instead of torture!
Sure, vegan sounds like losing weight without giving up. The vegetable diet is a dream for foodies. The focus is moving away from calories and small portions, towards the quality and taste of the food.
Mindful eating and creativity are in demand with avocado toast , brownies made from sweet potatoes and banana ice cream . It’s fun, providing the body with a nutrient boost (= less cravings !) And makes anyone who likes to experiment with food happy.
Myth 4: Vegans are pale pill junkies
A vitamin B12 tablet in the morning, an iron-magnesium shot at lunchtime and, of course, the vitamin D tablet in the evening. Vegans depend on tablets because they don’t get all of the nutrients they need from their diet?
Thought wrong. With a plant-based diet, all the vitamins, minerals and all other nutrients we need can easily be covered. The only exception is vitamin B12 , which is only found in foods of animal origin. Vegans should therefore definitely supplement this vital vitamin.
The vitamin is often added to vegetable drinks and other vegan foods – and you can also get the vitamin with a toothpaste .
The body also gets all other minerals and vitamins with the consumption of plant-based foods. The prerequisite for this is, of course, that they are as varied, colorful and healthy as possible: Lots of fresh vegetables, fruit, high-quality oils, nuts, seeds, whole grains, pseudo-grains and legumes.
Incidentally, this is how the basis of every diet should look – regardless of whether you eat animal foods or not. However, it would probably not occur to anyone to ask a junk food fan about their folic acid supply or to point out with a raised finger that they should perhaps have their vitamin D level checked.
Myth 5: Vegans can hardly eat anything anymore
Outside the metropolises, the vegan options in restaurants and cafés often leave a lot to be desired. Those who live in Hamburg, Berlin or Cologne can consider themselves lucky. With a little planning, all vegans can get through everyday culinary life well.
Anyone who has been vegan for a long time knows: Everything can be “veganized”. This is what vegans call it when they prepare their favorite foods such as cakes or pizza in vegan form. There are innumerable substitutes for meat or fish anyway. You can easily replace cow’s milk with soy, almond , oat or rice drink .
Vegetable cheese made from ground nuts. Cream or yoghurt made from soy, coconut or hemp – no problem.
If you don’t have a natural food store nearby, you can now find it in supermarkets or vegan online shops. And in the restaurant: just ask whether the dish can be prepared without animal products. In an emergency: When ordering a salad, replace the yoghurt dressing with vinegar and oil, order Spaghetti Napoli, Pasta Aglio e Olio (without Parmesan) or a pizza without cheese – but with lots of vegetables.
Asian food fans have it easy. Asian cuisine almost always offers tofu dishes and dairy products are hardly processed anyway. If you are unsure: vegetable dishes with soy sauce and rice always work.
Are you a mezze lover? Congratulations. Hummus, babaganoush, sesame paste , pita bread, tabbouleh, falafel and rice in olive leaves are vegan anyway.
Myth 6: Soy consumption destroys the rainforest
It’s true: huge areas of rainforest are being cleared and biodiversity is being destroyed to grow soy. According to the environmental hero e. V. , huge soybean fields are cultivated in South America and the USA in particular and the soybeans are then shipped to Germany and other EU countries.
But: This – mostly genetically modified – soy does not end up on our plates and is also not used for the production of tofu, drinks or yoghurt, but for animal feed. More than two thirds of the world’s soy harvest is fed to cattle, pigs and turkeys (source: Albert Schweitzer Foundation).
Soy in our food comes mainly from Europe, is GMO-free and often even comes from organic farming.
Myth 7: Living vegan makes you limp and powerless
Many of us still haunt the image of the skinny, pale vegan who is completely emaciated from doing without and falls over at the slightest touch. The complete opposite is for example Patrik Baboumian. He is the winner of the Strongman 2011 – and vegan!
With a completely meat-free diet, he fed himself to the strongest man in the world and thus does away with the prejudice that vegetarians and vegans have less strength and energy than their meat-eating colleagues. Since Baboumian had felt so many positive effects during his six years of meatless, vegetarian diet, he finally decided in 2011 to also avoid eggs and dairy products.
Other well-known athletes have also reported an increase in performance and shorter regeneration times since they became vegan. These include Lewis Hamilton and Venus Williams.
So muscle fans don’t have to fear a vegan diet. On the contrary: vegetable protein helps build strength and define the body.
Myth 8: Living vegan is way too expensive
Veganism is a booming health trend. The industry is also reacting to this and wants to seduce those interested with sometimes overpriced substitute products such as vegan sweets, vegan gyros or vegetable protein shakes. Basically, however, these are all ready-made products that should rarely be on the menu with a healthy diet anyway.
Those who want to eat naturally should buy fruit and vegetables, grain products such as pasta or oatmeal, rice or potatoes for a vegan diet. Compared to meat, fish and the like, these are usually the cheaper alternatives.
Vegetable alternatives to cream, milk and yoghurt are becoming increasingly popular and are already available in most supermarkets for little money. So if you want to live vegan, you don’t necessarily have to spend more money on your food. Anyone who likes to cook for themselves and without a lot of ready-made products can even reduce their expenses.
Myth 9: Living vegan is so extreme
This myth is like beauty – it is in the eye of the beholder. Is it extreme to eat mostly natural foods like fruits, vegetables, and grains? Or is our current lifestyle, in which everything is produced en masse and often under unworthy conditions, much more extreme? Veganism doesn’t have to be extreme, but for many, it feels like that at the beginning, because old and cherished habits are broken.
After the changeover phase, most vegans no longer feel restricted. You don’t have to live vegan from shampoo to shoe soles. You can also simply do without animal products – whether always or only sometimes – in silence. And so do something good for the animals, the climate and their health.
Also read – What are the health benefits of Dragon Fruit?