If you have yet to be made aware of the vegan frenzy might I suggest you have been living under a rock? The choice to endorse this non-animal product diet, for various intents and purposes, once seemed extreme but is now abundant. However, like all fads and/or cultural shifts, with increased popularity comes increased skepticism.
Nutrition student Courtney Parsons explains the common misconceptions of this food lifestyle, most recently dubbed "plant-based."
1. A plant-based diet is too expensive.
Fruits, vegetables and whole grains will save you money, because they can be produced local and have an affordable value when in season. When you purchase meat and dairy products, you are also paying for the packing and processing of the item, as well as the transportation value. Some of the cheapest and healthiest foods at a grocery store are grains, potatoes and beans. This supports the notion that you will get “more bang for your buck” as these food products are rich in protein, vitamins and minerals.
Important Note – If you are purchasing plant-based foods that are processed (veggie burgers and soy meats) you are not as likely to see a change in your grocery bill from a non-vegetarian diet.
Tip - Seasonal fruits and vegetables are cheaper than produce at the grocery store, and usually taste much better!
2. You don’t get enough protein on a plant-based diet.
A diet full of whole plant-based foods will provide an individual with all nine essential amino acids because these foods are complete proteins. In reality, all North American’s get way more protein than called for, including vegans and vegetarians. The average recommendation for protein is 42 grams a day. The average non-vegetarian North American eats almost double of this requirement, and vegans and vegetarians get approximately 70% more protein than required.
Important Note – Processed foods such as starches and vegetables do not contain all nine amino acids because they are taken from fiber.
Tip – Eat a diet full of a variety of plant-based foods to ensure that you consume all 9 essential amino acids.
3. A plant-based diet does not provide enough calcium.
The daily recommendation allowance for calcium is 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams. This value is relatively high because diets that are high in protein and sodium cause calcium to be excretion through the urine. Plant-based foods are more likely to retain calcium in the diet, supporting the statement that vegetarians tend to have stronger bones than meat-eaters. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states “individuals with low, but nutritionally adequate, intakes of sodium and protein may have calcium requirements as low as 500-741 mg/day.” Calcium is needed for strong bones and can be found in dark green leafy vegetables and plant-based milks.
Important Note – Caffeine consumption and smoking leads to an increase in calcium loss from the body.
Tip- Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables to keep calcium in bones.
4. A plant-based diet takes too much time to live by.
It is a fact that eating a plant-based diet will require more time than a quick ready-to-go dinner. But, when you think about the time that it takes to barbecue meat, it will take the same or less time to prepare a plant-based meal.
- Prepare your supper in the morning by the use of a slow cooker.
- Keep preparation simple by steaming vegetables.
- Plan meals ahead and stock the freezer with frozen fruits and vegetables.
5. All you eat is salad!!
A plant-based cuisine is based on fruits and foods high in starch, including potatoes, beans, and whole grains. Plant-based meals can be as creative as the following:
· Buckwheat pancakes
· Sweet potato hash browns
· Tofu scramble
· Black bean burger
· Cashew Macaroni and Cheese
· Lentil Shepherd’s Pie
· Sweet Potato Vegetable Lasagna
Tip - Look up new recipes online and experiment with ingredients.
To eat a whole food, plant-based diet, you might have change up your shopping habits and open up your horizons to new foods as well as spend a little extra time in the kitchen. In the end, your body will thank you and you will be rewarded nutritionally.