Top 20 Vegan Myths Debunked – The Truth About Veganism
In no other time in history has the entire world been more connected with such an abundant amount of free information.
With this free information comes a lot of misinformation.
You see it all the time: Popular pieces of news and information you thought were truth that turn out to be completely false.
In the health and nutrition industry, vegan myths rank near the top.
Whether intention or as just a joke, veganism has been the subject of plenty of misinformation.
For you curious readers, we’re here to clear up the rumors and myths.
20. Only Vegans Need Supplements.
If only vegans need supplements then how do you explain the bodybuilders, athletes, and gym goers who don’t follow the same diet and stock up on them as well?
Note About Supplements
It’s important to understand what the term supplements actually means. Supplements supplement your diet. This means that they can be useful to fill in the nutritional gaps to help you achieve your goals. Supplements do not (and should not) replace whole foods.
Yes, when following a vegan diet, there is a concern about getting enough Vitamin B12, Iron, Calcium, and Vitamin D. That’s not to say it’s impossible to get these nutrients on a vegan diet via whole foods. Rather, it’s more of a “just in case” as it is with most dietary supplements.
For example, you don’t need Vitamin D supplements during the winter but most doctors will recommend this supplement due to lack of natural sunlight during the colder months.
19. Veganism Is An Eating Disorder.
An eating disorder is characterized as a psychological disorder.
That means there is an abnormal set of behavioral eating patterns stemming from a number of potential psychological factors.
In other words, an eating disorder is a disease of the mind that is not voluntary and requires professional help to remedy.
Veganism, on the other hand, is a conscious choice made by a person.
The person who follows a vegan diet and a vegan way of life isn’t suffering from a psychological disease.
This type of vegan myth is harmful to both vegans and those actually suffering from a crippling eating disorder.
18. Veganism Is Only For Hippies And White Suburbanites.
This vegan myth is based in pure ignorance.
If you really want to have this myth dispelled in just a few seconds, simply Google the term “Black Vegans” and that will be that.
Think about this: Do you believe that veganism is an invention of 21st century hippies who kept this dietary trend confined to the United States?
Have you considered that there are dietary and religious practices across the world that promote a vegan lifestyle and diet?
Veganism and vegetarianism isn’t a modern invention of white hippies. It’s been a way of life since the time of our ancestors. To say that veganism is only for white hippies in the modern age is like saying that only people from Thailand are Buddhist or only Indians practice yoga.
It’s a big world out there and, believe it or not, people from all backgrounds follow a vegan diet and vegan way of life.
17. Veganism Is A Trend.
You can quickly get rid of this myth simply by understanding what the term trend means.
A trend signifies something that gains an incredible amount of popularity for a brief amount of time and then sees a rapid decline in followers. For example, last year’s fashion choices are a trend. They will be replaced with another line of fashion choices this year.
Veganism is far from a trend, or it’s the longest trend to have occurred. Studies and research can prove that the conscious choice to abstain from animal products dates back thousands of years. If you want to play devil’s advocate, the modern-day veganism movement started when the word veganism became popular to use in 1944.
Show us another trend that has lasted over 70 years.
16. Vegan Diets Are Not Suitable For Children And Pregnant Women.
Understandably, people have concerns about providing enough essential nutrients to growing children and pregnant women. However, the idea that a vegan diet somehow lacks those nutrients is false.
Studies show the greatest determiner of malnutrition for children and pregnant women is not a specific diet choice; rather, the socio-economic status of the individual.
If you can’t afford to buy food, it doesn’t matter which diet you’re trying to follow.
Studies do make it a point to suggest supplements for a vegan diet, as we addressed above.
However, they also confirm that as long as vegans and vegetarians follows the guidelines suggested in the Recommended Daily Allowance of the CDC, they will not have to worry about malnutrition.
Children and pregnant women must follow a well-prepared vegan diet. This means taking the time to effectively plan macronutrients, calories, and meals.
15. Vegan Pet Diets Are Dangerous.
The next member of the family that you may be concerned about putting on a vegan diet is your pet. Since they are animals, it’s easy to assume that they should be eating other animals. This isn’t necessarily true.
While many pet owners can attest to how difficult it is to keep a cat on a vegan diet, dog owners find it surprisingly easy. A vegan diet for a dog is only dangerous when the dog’s nutritional needs are not met. This can easily be remedied by providing your dog with plenty of high quality vegan protein and healthy vegan meals.
Just like with yourself, it’ll be important to keep a well-structured and laid out meal plan for your dog so you can ensure your best friend is getting the best nutrition for optimal health.
14. Fish Don’t Feel Pain. Animals Can’t Feel Pain.
Who told you this? Maybe toy fish and stuffed animals don’t feel pain but living, breathing, and moving animals and fish certainly feel pain.
Pain isn’t something that is solely human. If an animal has nerves, it can feel pain as nerves are the network that pain signals travel on. Do you think it’s a coincidence that if you step on your dog’s tail that it yelps out in pain?
When it comes to fish, there is certainly a debate as to whether they feel pain in the same way that humans do. While the idea of pain may be different to fish, studies indicate that fish do feel pain. Again, to play devil’s advocate: Let’s say fish don’t feel pain. Why is that any reason to kill them?
13. It's Impossible To Be Vegan If You Live Or Travel Abroad. Eating Out As A Vegan Is Impossible!
Have you actually traveled outside of the country?
In many countries, it’s EASIER to find vegan-friendly dishes than it is back in the United States.
You have to remember that veganism and a vegan diet isn’t solely confined to white hippies in the United States. Many cultures around the globe practice veganism and vegetarianism, making it very simple to get your hands on vegan meals.
For example, if you travel to Thailand, India, Korea, or Hong Kong, you’ll be overwhelmed by the number of vegan options available to you.
If you travel to impoverished nations where food is scarce, this is where you may run into trouble. However, if you know where you are going ahead of time, you can certainly plan for it by reaching out to ex-pats already living and working in that area.
12. Soya (Soy) Is Destroying The Environment And Rainforests.
Yes and no.
Yes, the overabundance of soy crops is playing a big part in deforestation. However, where do you think all of the soy is going?
Do you really think that vegans are eating THAT much soy?
Believe it or not, the soy crops that are causing widespread destruction of rainforests in South America and beyond are going to the meat industry. Cows, chickens, and fish are being fed soy-based feed. Whether you like it or not, when you bite into a hamburger, you’re biting into a mouth full of soy. When the cows and chickens are eating nothing but soy, it all comes full circle back to us when we eat them.
So, yes, soy crops are causing environmental damage but this is soy that is being produced for slaughterhouse cows and chickens, not for vegans.
One of the best ways you can help to stop the environmental destruction from soy crops is to stop eating meat. Farmers will plant more sustainable crops if the demand is there. Right now, the demand is focused on meat. You can change the world by changing what’s on your plate.
11. Vegans Only Eat Processed Foods.
This couldn’t be further from the truth.
While there are those people who are technically vegan because they are eating nothing but vegan friendly processed foods, the majority of vegans are nothing like that.
The vast majority of vegans are eating healthy, well-balanced meals that are packed with fresh vegetables, fruits, grains, lentils, nuts, seeds, sprouts, super foods, and much more.
Yes, there is a supply of vegan friendly processed foods but they are never the “norm” of veganism or a vegan diet. In fact, for most vegans, they don’t consider them to be real vegan meals.
10. Veganism Is Impossible Or Just Plain Bad For Athletes. Your Workout Will Suffer!
Did Mac Danzig look tired and weak as he fought his way up to win Ultimate Fighter 6?
Was the pitching of baseball player, Adam Russell, so horrible that he was fired?
Does Brendan Brazier look like he’s lacking energy when he competes in triathlete events and marathons?
What do all of these high-profile athletes have in common?
They are all famous vegan athletes.
A vegan diet has been shown time and time again to be highly effective for promoting the hard-hitting lifestyle of the world’s top-notch athletes. The myth that athletes cannot be champions AND vegans is incredibly short sighted.
Want more proof, simply Google “vegan athletes” and get ready to be amazed at the numbers.
9. You Need Meat For Muscle Building.
Wrong again. For some reason, there is this idea that ONLY meat and animal sources can provide the protein and building blocks needed for elite quality muscle mass.
First, a vegan diet is PACKED with vegan protein. There are some plant-based foods that provide more overall protein than animal sources!
Secondly, vegan protein comes with the added benefit of a variety of vitamins and nutrients including antioxidants, which help fight off free radicals in the body.
This can help to support recovery.
Lastly, have you looked into the long list of famous vegan bodybuilders?
Patrik Baboumian, Derek Tresize, and Torre Washington are a few names to check out if you want proof of vegan-built muscle mass.
8. Tofu And Soya Contain Estrogen, Which Lowers Testosterone And Gives You Cancer.
Let’s get the facts straight here: Soy and soy-based tofu do NOT contain the actual hormone, estrogen. If they did, the symptoms of excess estrogen would be abundantly clear on a worldwide scale, especially for men.
With that said, soy does contain isoflavones, which are very weak phyto-estrogens.
To call them phyto-estrogens may be giving them a bit too much credit. Isoflavones are estrogen-like, which means they may mimic very few of the characteristics of actual estrogen.
Make no mistake about it: Isoflavones are NOT estrogen.
Soy consumption, especially fermented soy, has been shown to be beneficial for human health. The catch, of course, is moderate consumption.
7. Planting Crops Kills A Lot Of Animals.
We’re not sure how this myth got started but here’s the basic idea:
Some people claim that the agricultural production that goes into harvesting the crops needed for a vegan diet kills MORE animals per year than the animals that are killed for consumption.
That’s right, people actually believe that growing plants kills more animals than the industry that is specifically around to kill animals for food.
To put this ridiculous myth to rest, a research paper complete with a powerful infographic called “Number of Animals Killed to Produce One Million Calories in Eight Food Categories” was published and it clearly demonstrates that a vegan diet causes the fewest number of animals to be killed. Case closed.
6. Vegan Diet Offers Less Energy.
Again, have you ever met a vegan?
What’s more, did you miss our examples of the vegan champion athletes?
We aren’t sure how this myth ever got started but somehow, the idea that vegans have less energy because their diet is so strict made its way into the mainstream.
If you talk to someone who is actually following a vegan diet with healthy vegan meals, you’ll see it’s just the opposite. Plant-based diets provide you with the nutrients you need for optimal functioning.
Note About Plant-Based Diet
What’s more, plant-based diets ensure you don’t have a build-up of toxins from animal products. For example, if you aren’t eating steaks or hamburgers, you don’t have to worry about the antibiotics and growth hormone that is being pumped into cows.
It is because of their diets that vegans are some of the most pepped up people you’ll ever meet.
5. It’s Impossible To Be A Vegan With Animal Byproducts In Everything.
We can understand how this myth feels very real as it really does seem like you’ll find animal byproducts in just about everything. Even JELLO is made from animals!
Even with the best of intentions made by manufacturers, restaurants, etc, everyone makes mistakes. As a response, the industry does its best to identify truly vegan products.
However, this idea of vegan perfectionism is not the way to look at veganism.
Veganism is about doing your best. Being a vegan is about making a conscious choice to not harm any animals. The truth is that no one is perfect. The point of veganism is that you try your absolute best to live a life where you hold all life to be sacred and you show this through your actions.
You can’t control anyone but yourself and that’s what matters.
4. We Should Worry About Other Problems In The World And Not About Animals.
We totally agree… because that’s exactly what vegans do: They worry about big picture problems impacting the world. Animals just happen to be connected to that.
The greatest threat to humanity is the daily environmental destruction that is occurring thanks largely in part to the meat and agricultural industry.
From deforestation to pollution, these industries are destroying homes, lives, and the planet.
Vegans choose their lifestyle in an effort to help, not only animals but the world as a whole. Vegans care about seeing worldwide issues like starvation and pollution eradicated. THAT is why they choose to be vegan. Their lifestyle promotes the revitalization of the planet and the people on it.
3. People With Food Allergies Can’t Be Vegans.
This myth is very mixed up. It is because of food allergies that many people choose to become vegan.
The best example of this is with those people who are lactose intolerant. Those who find themselves with daily symptoms of lactose intolerance begin searching for a diet that doesn’t result in those side effects of bloating and frequent bathroom trips.
It’s the same with people who have a gluten intolerance. The road back to all natural, plant-based foods quickly becomes the option for people with food allergies as they immediately report feeling better upon making the switch.
2. I Can’t Be Vegan When My Family, Partner, Or Roommate Is Not.
Yes, it’s difficult but it’s not impossible.
The key to being vegan when your family, partner, or roommate isn’t vegan is… communication.
Yes, it really is that simple. You have to talk to the person or people you’re living with. It doesn’t need to be an intervention-style sit down. Simply tell the person you are making a diet and lifestyle change and you’d appreciate it if they supported you.
They don’t need to make the change and you certainly don’t need to convert them. They just need to support your choices.
If someone truly cares about you, they will support your decision and make things as easy for you as possible.
Remember, it’s all about being honest, understanding, and asking with kindness for support.
1. Being A Vegan Guarantees Weight Loss. Veganism Is Always Healthy.
If only this myth were true…
Yes, the majority of dedicated vegans you see are thin and in-shape but that doesn’t mean EVERY vegan is incredibly fit.
With the prevalence of processed vegan foods, it’s never been easier to eat a terrible diet AND call yourself a vegan.
Even if a vegan is eating nothing but whole foods, exercise and proper portion control plays a big role. Calories are calories after all.
So what did you learn today about vegans?
We hoped this cleared up any doubts or strange thoughts that you had about the vegan lifestyle.
Do you have a question or potential myth about veganism that you want answered?
Post it in the comments below and we’ll follow up immediately!
Want to know more about the vegan lifestyle? Click here to read our article on the Answers to the 20 Most Common Questions for a Vegan.
- "Vegans In Ancient Times | The History of Veganism Part One." Bite Size Vegan. N.p., 21 June 2016. Web. 11 July 2017.
- Dwyer, Johanna, and Franklin M. Loew. "Nutritional Risks of Vegan Diets to Women and Children: Are They Preventable?" SpringerLink. Kluwer Academic Publishers, n.d. Web. 11 July 2017.
- Bekoff, Marc. "Science Shows Fish Feel Pain, So Let's Get Over It and Do Something to Help These Sentient Beings." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 29 Dec. 2015. Web. 12 July 2017.
- Middleton, Mark L. "Number of Animals Killed to Produce One Million Calories in Eight Food Categories." Animal Visuals: Visual Animal Advocacy. N.p., 12 Oct. 2009. Web. 12 July 2017.
- Davis, Steven L. "The Least Harm Principle May Require That Humans Consume a Diet Containing Large Herbivores, Not a Vegan Diet," Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 16, no. 4 (2003): 387-394.