Of all the classifications of vegetarians, vegans are among the strictest. Vegans omit all animal products (including eggs and dairy) as well as foods containing animal-derived ingredients. In other words, a vegan diet consists of plant-based foods only.
Now there are several myths about vegans and whether such a lifestyle is healthy. However, we will dispel many such myths in this article. One is that because a vegan diet consists of no meat it is unhealthy. However, a carefully planned vegan diet is just as healthy than a carefully planned meat-based diet. In fact, such carefully planned vegan diets have been proven to be even more healthy and nutritious than conventional diets.
Another myth is that a vegan diet is void of protein, calcium and Vitamin B-12. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. For starters, a vegan diet offers a variety of sources of protein including grain foods, nuts, beans and tofu, just to name a few. You may have even heard the myth that animal protein is superior to vegetable protein. This is indeed a myth and is easily dis-proven by the fact that high levels of protein steal calcium from bones leading to osteoporosis. Furthermore, it has been found that the typical Western diet contains too much protein. In short, a variety of plant foods eaten throughout the day can meet protein requirements. Regarding calcium, there are several plant foods that are excellent sources of calcium. Green, leafy, low-oxalate vegetables such as collard greens, bok choy, broccoli, Chinese cabbage and kale are not only all great sources of calcium, but the body easily absorbs the calcium from these food sources.
Lastly, regarding Vitamin B-12, foods such as nutritional yeast, fortified cereal, fortified soy milk, tempeh, miso, and other plant foods when consumed regularly throughout the day provide plenty of Vitamin B-12.
Notwithstanding all the myths a vegan diet offers a variety of benefits which are undeniable. Furthermore, the decision to adopt this diet is a personal one. That said, before making judgements and falling prey to the untruths about veganism keep an open mind and continue to educate yourself. There is much to discover about this very unique diet and lifestyle.