When it comes to veganism and/or vegetarianism, there are endless misconceptions that people have toward those who adopt this diet and more often than not, they’re unfortunately negative ones. I know that I have experienced that classic deep sigh or eye roll when people find out I am a vegetarian, and I many times don’t see the need for it. For that reason, I hope that this piece helps you recognize that not all of these judgments apply.
Two stereotypes that are very much present is that any given vegan or vegetarian is either an extremist animal rights activist or a tree hugging hippie. Not all vegans and/or vegetarians are animal rights activists trying to shove their beliefs down your throat. In fact, some may be indifferent as their choice of diet may be due to many different reasons ranging from the ethics of the meat industry to their personal health. And not all are hippies that cry out for peace, and one must realize that very different people adapt the “veg-head” lifestyle – people of all backgrounds, races, sizes, classes, personalities, and genders. For example, some vegan/ vegetarian celebrities include Pamela Anderson, Brad Pitt, Russell Brand, Mike Tyson, Bill Clinton, Andre 3000, and Ariana Grande. As you can see, veggies are all scattered all around!
Another misconception that vegans and vegetarians experience is that all suffer from some sort of nutritional deficiency. When I first told my mother I had decided to stop consuming meat, she asked me to consume a protein shake a couple of times a week. It is important that people understand that there are many alternative ways of acquiring protein; meat is not the only source out there. For example, there are other foods that have a high and/or equivalent amount of protein to meat such as seitan, tofu, beans, quinoa, tempeh, chia seeds, spinach, nuts, and peas. These are all excellent sources of protein.
Another worry is attaining a sufficient amount of calcium. The famous “Got Milk?” commercial really sparked the belief that the only way to attain calcium is through milk. However, like protein, there are many other ways to attain calcium. For example, consuming collards, black-eyed peas, tofu, beans, lettuce, green peas, soy milk, oranges, and even almonds are all exceptional sources of calcium.
Iron deficiency is another big one. Other ways of attaining iron are by eating beans, dried fruits, iron-fortified foods, spinach, tofu, pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, olives, peas, asparagus, coconut, berries, and arugula.
Hopefully you’re starting to get the idea! Veggies are basically superfoods and having a good amount of them can definitely call for a balanced diet with all of the necessary vitamins and minerals!
The very last point I would like to bring to light is that not all vegans and vegetarians have carnophobia, aka they’re scared of meat. Many times I will experience friends who get a bit anxious when picking a restaurant because they want to make sure there are vegetarian options. Or other times, they are almost apologetic when eating meat in front of me. Personally, neither of these should be issues. Most restaurants now have vegetarian options and for my fellow vegans, salads are increasing in popularity. On the other hand, why not check out a veggie restaurant? Delicious and untried always make a fabulous combo!
There are many vegan and vegetarian misconceptions out there and sometimes they may not always be true. The reality of vegans and vegetarians may be very different from the common perceptions people have of them. For that reason, I invite you to always check out the facts of any situation before forming opinions.
Image: Lauren Jessen