You mustn’t believe everything you read. Despite there being a load of trustworthy and helpful information about a plant-based diet online, there are also many nasty little fallacies out there. With that in mind, it’s time to bust some myths. Here is the truth about the most common plant-based diet misconceptions.
1. Plant-based is the same as vegan
There’s no denying the fact that the plant-based diet and veganism share many of the same traits. Sure, when adopting either of these dietary regimes, we ultimately cut out meat, dairy, and animal products. So, it’s no great wonder that many people assume that the two words are interchangeable; one and the same. Well, they’re not.
The differentiating factor here is not what you eat, but why you eat it. Whilst veganism focusses on the ethics behind the food we eat, a plant-based lifestyle is more about the health benefits it yields. In the end, these two ideas may result in the same outcome, i.e. avoiding animal products, but their roots are not to be confused.
Keep in mind that a vegan typically works under the belief that eating animal-based foods is immoral and will never differ from that thought. That means that they will never eat meat, dairy, or other foods derived from animals. They will, however, eat processed foods which are vegan, despite many of them also being unhealthy. A couple of examples of these foods may be Oreos or certain brands of faux meat.
On the other hand, someone following a plant-based lifestyle is concerned with the health benefits of their food. For that very reason, they would avoid products that are heavily processed and unhealthy in favour of natural alternatives. They may also adopt a ‘flexitarian’ outlook; occasionally eating animal products now and then. Since their primary reason for eating plant-based foods is to do with their well-being and health, they can afford to be a little more fluid in their approach. Balance is everything.
2. The diet lacks proper nutrition
At the heart of the plant-based diet ideology is the notion that proper nutrition comes first. Meat-eaters have long maintained that cutting out animal products will lead to poor nutrition. Nothing could be further from the truth. Eating a plant-based diet allows us to get the protein, nutrients, and vitamins that we need without suffering any of the negative effects of a meat-laden diet.
Let’s take the example of protein. We already know that you can get masses of protein from meat, but at what cost? The high levels of saturated fat and cholesterol within meat products mean that they could well be doing more harm than good. While many of us presume that eating meat is the only way to get the protein we need, plant-based foods offer a potentially healthier alternative.
Unsurprisingly, there’s been a body of research to underline this very point. Just last year, a study from researchers at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) found that the consumption of plant-based protein resulted in lower mortality rates, i.e. that those eating this particular diet lived longer than average. The same research found that the eating animal-based protein products resulted in higher mortality rates overall. The results are clear; the staggering levels of meat in many of our diets could be killing us bite by bite.
3. Avoiding eggs and dairy is hard
At first, the thought of waving a long goodbye to meat and dairy might be a little intimidating. These are the staples we’ve all grown up eating. It’s human nature to avoid change at all costs but that doesn’t always mean that it’s the right move. Without making positive changes, we will never move forward. The time for that change is now.
The main reason that people may believe that avoiding these foods is hard is because they have never tried to do so. Once you delve deep into the realms of the plant-based diet, though, it’s plain to see that there’s a lot of tasty little alternatives out there. Since the plant-based food market is ever-growing, there’s no end of choices out there for you to try for yourself. The key here is having a little fun experimenting with new, different food combinations.
What’s more, should you find the idea of cutting these foods out too much, there are other options. For instance, you may want to wean yourself off these food groups in a slow and sustainable way. Schemes, such as Meat Free Mondays, are ideal places to start as they allow you to make simple dietary changes at your own pace.
4. Plant-based foods are bland
Let’s play a quick game, shall we? Take a moment to picture how you think a typical plant-based meal looks. Really go wild here. You’re probably envisioning a plate stacked with iceberg lettuce, chopped tomatoes, and perhaps a cheeky Ryvita cracker on the side, right? Less than appealing, at the very best of times, we’re sure you’ll agree.
Contrary to popular belief, plant-based foods don’t have to be boring. As we’ve already mentioned, this is a dietary world that’s only getting bigger and, frankly, more exciting. Adopting this lifestyle means opening your mind up to the possibilities that lie ahead of you. It means not fearing the unknown, but embracing it with open arms.
Many ethnic cuisines, such as Indian and Pakistani dishes, are predominantly plant-based by nature. These are types of food that we’d never once dream of calling bland, and yet traditionally they contain very few animal-based products. They’re not the only examples of plant-based food dishes that can be at once delicious and flavoursome. With a little education and experimentation, you’ll find that there’s so much more than a sad, shrivelled piece of lettuce here.
5. These food products are expensive
You’ve likely heard the whispers that a plant-based diet is utterly expensive to maintain, but where’s the evidence to back this up? There is none. Things like whole grains, potatoes, root vegetables, and beans are immensely cheap, especially when you buy them in bulk. That means that you can easily sustain this dietary choice on a shoestring.
Think about it. One of the biggest expenses when it comes to the average person’s food shopping has to be meat products. Even when you buy these items from a butcher’s shop, the immense cost of them soon adds up to around a third of your overall bill. In getting rid of that unnecessary expense, you free up more money for healthier alternatives.
So, whether you’re living a champagne or lemonade lifestyle, the plant-based diet is more than accessible. Indeed, the more you educate yourself in this area, the more obvious that fact will become. Yes, with a little time and surprisingly little money, taking on this diet can be as easy as pie… a wholesome plant-based pie, that is.