“If animals aren’t made for eating, why are they made of meat?” If you are a vegan, chances are you can’t even count the number of times you have heard this joke, or experienced strangers suddenly becoming worried about your protein intake, and tried your best not to roll your eyes when these type of questions and jokes arise. But the truth is, there are many myths and misconceptions about vegans out there as well as people who are seriously curious about going vegan but have a preconceived idea of what it means to live a vegan lifestyle.
Many vegans have faced concerns and warnings from the people around them – “You won’t have energy and always be tired”, “You will be malnourished without the protein” and my favorite: “You’re a human, and humans are made to eat meat”. If you don’t have much knowledge on the subject it is easy to believe these myths and continue eating meat out of habit or health concern, yet there are millions of people around the world who are vegan and not only still alive, but perfectly healthy too!
So whether you are a long time vegan tired of being asked the same questions over and over again, or you are just curious about what a vegan lifestyle involves, this is for you!
“Humans are made for eating meat – man is a predator and has canine teeth.”
We won’t get into the whole scientific fact discussion* about human bodies and whether humans are to be considered (physiologically) omnivores or herbivores (most research agrees that we are not carnivores though) but would rather say this: Humans “are made” for many things but as many vegans have proven, humans are perfectly able to survive on a vegan diet. While humans have physical attributes that enable us to eat meat, it doesn’t mean that we must eat meat or that we can’t survive without it. Humans are physically capable to do many things but it doesn’t mean that we must do them or that those things are right to do. Our bodies are physically able to inflict pain on other humans too, but it doesn’t mean that humans “are made” to be violent to other people, right? So whether or not our bodies are made for doing something is not as relevant as if we should do this something.
*If you are interested in this discussion there are many great books and scientific articles on the subject – like this one.
“Vegan food is so boring. I’m really not a salad person.”
Many people think that vegans only eat salads. Now, don’t get us wrong: salads are great and healthy and all, but if you are just a little bit of a foodie by nature, you know how hard it is to settle for the salads when you’re in a restaurant which is why this is such a frustrating misconception. In fact, vegan food can be extremely tasty – just have a look in the Vilda food archives. And you don’t have to eat salads and lentil soups just because you are vegan – as proven by, among others, Sandra Vungi, from vegansandra.com and author of Vegan Dinner Party: “I absolutely love vegan burgers,” she tells Vilda “they are so versatile and taste delightful”. We couldn’t agree more!
Being vegan doesn’t mean that you don’t love food and many vegans still eat many things that other people eat but they substitute animal ingredients with plant based ones instead. For those curious about a vegan diet, Sandra recommends “veganizing” old favorites: “Try using vegan cream instead of heavy cream when making a pasta sauce. Or using plant milk on your morning cereal. Or cooking vegan cutlets instead of meat cutlets”. Sandra loves to use coconut milk to make creamy pasta sauces, velvety soups and her own vegan cheese, and says something we all should keep in mind: “Anything people can eat, I can eat vegan!”.
And if you’re still not convinced, just take a look at these yummy dishes that Sandra put together (and we’ve linked to the recipes too)!
“You can’t get enough protein on a vegan diet. Humans need animal derived protein – especially if you work out or are somewhat serious about a sport or fitness.”
Being a vegan athlete is not at all impossible – we’ve even written about it before (here). Getting protein is important for our bodies – especially if we work out, but the truth is that there is much more to it than protein. You need to have a balanced diet to stay healthy and that goes for meat eaters as well as vegans:
“When one is focused on using food to fuel their body, they ensure every bite is a nutrient dense one. Plant based foods are packed with fiber, antioxidants, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and are cholesterol-free!” vegan fitness athlete Yvette Fox tells Vilda. “Eating a variety of these foods ensures a complete amino acid profile – the building blocks of building muscle. My body is clean, efficient and full of energy due to my plant based diet” Yvette says and points out: “Some of the largest and strongest animals are also plant eaters –elephants, gorillas, hippos and bison.”
“Vegans have no sense of fashion and only wear hemp clothes”
Vegans love designer handbags, stylish stiletto heels and a ferocious coat to rock the streets in as much as Kanye loves Kanye, but we like it to be vegan and cruelty free. Gone are the days when all vegans could wear was hemp and pleather – with the rising amount of vegans around the world, brands are becoming aware of a shift in fashion as well:
“With the technology and awareness nowadays, it’s highly possible to find a variety of animal friendly pieces; not everything is made with animal skin or fur” fashion blogger Joan, who runs the blog A Cup of Joan, tells Vilda. “I select and buy clothes like any other person and I allow myself to be very open to all the options of fashion items out there. The only catch is, I’m a constant tag inspector.”
While you may have to do some more research when you shop – looking at the tags and doing some research for new brands – it absolutely does not have to mean that you can’t be chic and cruelty-free simultaneously. Because, as Joan expresses it: “Fashion to me is being able to wear what I want artistically, while expressing my beliefs of living cruelty-free and spreading kindness.”
“Going vegan will make me skinny”
There are people who are considering a vegan diet not because of animal welfare or health reasons but with the ambition to lose weight. Regardless of which diet you choose it is all about calories and nutrition. As a vegan you can choose to eat fries, vegan cupcakes, donuts, and pancakes en masse which won’t exactly make you lose any weight at all – on the contrary. When it comes to eating healthy plant-based food, research shows increased health benefits such as reducing the number of medications needed to treat a variety of chronic conditions, lower weight, decreased risk of cancer and reduced risk of death from heart disease (source), but ultimately it is about what kind of vegan food you eat.
Do you know of more myths and misconceptions about veganism? Tell us below in the comments!
Header photo by Mattie Hagedorn / Global Panorama