When it comes to nutrition, it’s hard to know what to believe, right? Many plant-based food myths have arisen from a common misunderstanding. False or conflicting information spreads quickly, which ultimately makes it difficult to keep track of recent events.
There are many misconceptions about the health, taste, and safety of a plant-based diet, but we do our best to dispel these myths with reliable scientific and research materials.
So, here are 11 common plant-based diet misconceptions, as well as some lifestyle truths courtesy of the No Meat Monday team, so you can diversify your diet without fear.Shutterstock
If you consume enough calories to maintain a healthy weight and eat a healthy and varied diet, you are almost certainly getting enough protein. Protein deficiency is not common in the United States, and most Americans eat 1.5 times more protein than they need every day.
Many plant foods are rich in protein, but you may need to eat more to match the amount of protein found in animal foods. For example, it takes 1 cup of cooked beans to equal the amount of protein in a 3 ounce serving of meat. If you’re worried about consuming enough protein, it’s easy to add a scoop of plant-based protein to your morning smoothie if you want an extra boost.
Your body naturally combines plant nutrients to form complete protein. While most plant-based protein sources provide limited amounts of some essential amino acids, there is no need to combine foods to create “complete proteins.”
If you eat a wide variety of foods and follow the USDA’s dietary guidelines, your body will have all the amino acids it needs to make the new proteins your body needs. In other words, your body “supplements” the protein for you, even if each food was eaten in a separate meal.
Plant-based ingredients such as lentils, chickpeas, dark leafy greens, chia and hemp seeds, and dried fruits contain varying amounts of iron. It is true that the iron in meat (heme iron) is more easily absorbed by the body than plant-based iron (non-heme iron). However, research shows that eating foods containing vitamin C or other foods containing heme along with plant-based protein increases the availability of iron. For example, a cup of beans with chopped red peppers or tofu with broccoli are great combinations.
Watch out for 6 signs of iron deficiency that should not be ignored.Shutterstock / Brent Hofaker
Many children enjoy vegetables and healthy foods, especially when they help cook. When vegetables like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and asparagus are cooked well, kids love them.
Better yet, when children are truly involved in the selection and preparation processes, they are likely to enjoy their vegetables even more. To introduce children to new plant-based foods, try cooking foods they recognize and enjoy, such as turning cauliflower into buffalo nuggets or turning eggplant and onions into meatballs.Shutterstock
Without meat, it’s easy to get all the nutrients you need. In the United States, only a small percentage of the population is deficient in any one nutrient. This is because many of the foods we eat either provide us with the necessary amounts of vitamins and minerals, or they contain them through fortification.
People who eat exclusively plant-based foods may need to take vitamin B12 or iron supplements, but it is also easy to get enough of these nutrients through daily servings of usually fortified plant foods such as milk, cereals, or other fortified foods.
Do not miss. Vitamin B deficiency can be a cause of constant fatigue.
Not all plant foods are good for your health; many vegan processed foods are high in sugar, salt, and saturated fat. For example, did you know Oreos are vegan-friendly?
There is a consensus among health professionals that a diet consisting primarily of minimally processed fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains is best for your physical well-being. But it does not mean everything Vegan or plant-based foods meet these requirements. When an ingredient is extensively processed, many beneficial nutrients can be stripped away. French fries, potato chips, onion rings, muffins, and sugary grains are technically free from animal products, but that fact alone does not make these foods nutritious.
You can enjoy most of your favorite plant-based foods. There is a misconception that plant-based diets are boring and limited to salads, but by committing to eating more fruits, vegetables, legumes, and grains, you discover thousands of new ingredients and flavors. Plant-based foods are not restrictive; it is limitless.
Pro tip: Check out our collection of recipes for meat-free Mondays and even your favorite hamburger restaurants serving lean dishes.
Finding hearty plant-based meats has never been easier. Today, there are many ways to convey the texture, flavor and essence of meat using only plant-based ingredients. In addition to the impressive creations from Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods, there are hundreds of different combinations of vegetables, legumes and grains that can be as enjoyable as traditional animal products. Umami-rich ingredients such as soy sauce, tomato paste, or shiitake mushrooms can also be used to reproduce the savory flavor of the meat.
Cow’s milk is not the only or the best source of calcium available. Dark leafy greens like kale, bok choy, and mustard greens are good sources of calcium, and fruit juices, especially orange juice and dairy alternatives, are often fortified with additional calcium.
Pro Tip: Learn more about plant-based sources of calcium and how to increase and maintain calcium levels from the Physicians’ Committee on Responsible Medicine.
The American Academy of Pediatrics says a plant-based diet can be a healthy choice for your family. Children, like adults, need a balanced diet that includes many vitamins and minerals. To accommodate any missing nutrients – the most common ones are B12, iron, calcium, and zinc – just include more fortified foods like breakfast cereals, plant-based milk, or supplements in your weekly meal planning.Shutterstock
Soy does not increase the risk of breast cancer, but it even decreases it. Soy is a rich source of plant-based protein, and although it has been a staple of East Asian diets for centuries, there is a myth that eating too much soy can increase your risk of breast cancer. However, experts from the American Cancer Society state that soy is completely safe for both women and men.
“While the data does not point to any dangers of soy for humans, the health benefits seem to outweigh any potential risks. In fact, there is growing evidence that eating traditional soy foods such as tofu, tempeh, edamame, miso, and soy milk may reduce the risk of breast cancerespecially among Asian women. Soy foods are a great source of protein, especially when they replace other less healthy foods such as animal fats, red meat, or processed meats. Soy foods have been linked to lower levels of heart disease and may even help lower cholesterol levels. ”
To find out more, be sure to check out What Happens To Your Body When You Drink Soy Milk.