Veganism has been in the news in recent years. There has been an awakening as more and more people come to realize that a meat-based diet is unhealthy. Several scientific studies published in nutrition and medical journals have demonstrated the benefits of a plant-based diet over meat-based diets.
While many people have transitioned to a vegan diet, some have held back because of certain objections. They are not opposed to a vegan diet but their concerns have turned to fear and in some cases cynicism. The purpose of this post is to look at some of these objections and try to provide valid answers. Hopefully, by answering these objections, I will encourage people to start this journey to a vegan diet and a healthier future.
Here are 13 of the commonest objections to starting a vegan diet.
- Is a vegan diet healthy? I have always been a “meat and potatoes” person.
- Will I become malnourished on a vegan diet?
- I will not get enough protein if I eat a vegan diet.
- I will become deficient in vitamin B12 if I eat a vegan diet.
- Vegan diets are bland and tasteless.
- Grocery shopping for a vegan diet is hard.
- It is too expensive to eat a vegan diet.
- Being vegan is too hard because of my schedule
- Plants are living things so what is the difference between eating plants and eating animals?
- I don’t mind being vegan but I can’t deprive my children by making them vegan.
- Can a vegan diet satisfy me?
- I am a natural omnivore. I can’t stop eating meat.
Is Vegan Diet Healthy?
Several studies have demonstrated the benefits of a vegan diet. In fact, if any question should be asked, it must be: Is a meat–based diet healthy? There are many examples of veganism throughout history that have shown that a vegan diet is health. The foods that vegans eat are also eaten, to a large extent, by omnivores. The only difference is the meat. Is rice healthy? Are potatoes healthy? Are tomatoes, corn, lettuce, celery, beans and peas healthy? Of course, they are. Everyone knows that.
Will I Become Malnourished On A Vegan Diet?
This is related to the first objection. I have heard stories from people who object to a vegan diet because of a “cousin” who got very ill while on a vegan diet and finally returned to eating meat because she was getting malnourished. I think this objection stems from fear or ignorance. Changing to a vegan diet requires planning in order not to get on a diet that is lacking nutrients. Education and preparation are key.
Can I Get Enough Protein if I Become Vegan?
This is one of my favorites! I always have one answer; and it is a question back to the inquirer. How does the cow get its protein? The cow never eats hamburgers or steak. How does the elephant, the animal with the biggest muscles, get its protein? The elephant is vegetarian. At this point, there is an “aha” moment. Thes big muscled animals get all the protein they need from plant sources! Protein is abundant in plants and certainly legumes, such as beans, lentils and peanuts, have a great amount of protein. One famous advocate of veganism has a saying which I like. “If you eat brown rice and broccoli, you will have all the protein you need.
The confusion about protein stems from previous teaching that all plant proteins were “incomplete proteins” and had to be taken in combination to prevent deficiency. While some plant proteins do not have all the essential amino acids, some certainly do. Plant sources such as tofu, amaranth, chia seeds, hemp seeds buckwheat, edamame and quinoa have all the essential amino acids. So unless you are eating only rice or only corn, it is nearly impossible to become protein deficient.
I will become deficient in vitamin B12 if I eat a vegan diet? And I don’t like to take supplements.
As a big believer in taking vitamins and mineral supplements, my answer to this question is: almost everyone should be taking vitamins. But I want to address the serious issue at hand. I’m sure you have heard that “vegans don’t get any vitamin B2 in their diet so MUST take vitamin B12 supplement.” This is both true and false. True because indeed plants don’t contain vitamin B12 and so vegans, who eat only plant products don’t have B12 in their diet. (By the way, animals don’t produce vitamin B12 either; only certain types of bacteria do). But it is also false in the sense that vegans can get vitamin B12 in non-animal food sources. Certain mushrooms such as dried shiitake mushrooms, black trumpet and golden chanterelle may have sufficient amounts of vitamin B12 to supply the 2.4 micrograms recommended per day.
Another source of vitamin B12 for vegans is to eat foods fortified with vitamin B12. These foods include Silk soy milk, Oatly oat milk, Milkadama macadamia milk. Many vitamin B complex brands have enough vitamin B12 to provide the daily recommended amount of B12. So the truth is that a vegan who eats a decent diet and uses vitamin B12 fortified products or takes a vitamin B12 pill is very unlikely to ever develop vitamin B12 deficiency.
Vegan Diets are bland and tasteless.
This is another big one! Indeed vegan diets can be bland and not so tasty. But this is no reason to avoid becoming a vegan. Part of the preparation to become vegan is learning how to prepare delicious vegan food. It is possible to prepare vegan food that is tasty and attractive. And it is easier that you think! In a future post, I will address this issue at length. So stay tuned!
Grocery shopping for a vegan diet is hard.
Not so. Make a list of the foods you are going to buy before you get into the shop. Most of your choices will be in the fresh food aisle. But you must read labels carefully otherwise you may buy animal products which are hidden in innocent sounding names! I remember years ago my wife and I went grocery shopping. I tossed a few cans of baked beans in the cart as I was in the mood for home baked potatoes and some baked beans. I was horrified when my wife pointed out that the baked beans I had picked contained pork! What was pork doing in baked beans, I asked myself. That day I learned that I had to always look for “vegetarian baked beans”. Who knew? I assumed that baked beans could not be anything but vegetarian. How wrong I was!
It is too expensive to eat a vegan diet.
This is a myth. Vegan foods are much less expensive than animal based foods. Rice is cheap, dried beans, peanuts, lentils, potatoes, fresh (or frozen ) vegetables are not expensive. Even tofu is reasonably priced. You will actually save money when you become vegan and leave behind the fillet mignon and prime rib aside. Here is some context: a pound of prime rib is about $17. But if you want the best, you will pay between $100-$200 per pound of the best beef cuts!
In contrast , you can buy a 25 pound bag of organic Jasmine rice for $43 or $1.72 a pound. And to go with your rice, you can purchase a 20 pound bag of dried black-eyed peas for $29 or $1.45 per pound. Vegan diet is much cheaper than a meat based diet and, in most cases, it’s not even close.
Being vegan is too hard because of my schedule
Since I don’t know your schedule, I cannot easily rebut this one. Here is what I can say. For anyone who is serious about adopting a vegan lifestyle, you can fit it into any schedule. Sure, you can’t just pop into your neighborhood fast food place and order healthy vegan food. But you can prepare your delicious vegan fare beforehand and take some to work. You can keep it warm in a warmer so it doesn’t get cold. I am against microwave ovens (that’s another post) so I will not tell you to heat up your food in a microwave oven. But if you like such things, you don’t need a food warmer. Just pop your delicious vegan food in the microwave oven and voila!
Plants are living things so what is the difference between eating plants and eating animals?
This objection is usually directed at vegans who became vegan because they object to the killing of animals for food. But I believe that, at heart, all vegans have some objection to the slaughtering of animals for food. Therefore this objection is legitimate and I will answer it right now. Maybe you have seen videos where animals being transported to the slaughterhouse are screaming in dread.
But I bet you have not seen any video of an apple tree yelling out as pickers pick apples from it. Or a potato plant crying out against being uprooted. Enough said. The truth is you shed no blood when you eat a plant-based diet. On the other hand, every time you eat a chicken wing or thing or eat a steak or pork chops, someone has shed the blood of these animals for your culinary pleasure.
Whenever you object to the slaughter of animals for food, many people will rebut with this answer: “Even God said we could kill animals for food.” God said it. End of story, right? Not exactly. Using the same Biblical basis, God never told Adam and Eve to kill any of the animals in the Garden of Eden for food. Eve did not eat chicken wings and Adam did not eat steak for dinner. The diet God gave to Adam and Eve is clearly stated in the Bible.
In Genesis 1:29 God said : “Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of the earth, and every tree, in which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.” (Don’t be confused by the word “meat” here. It is old English for “food”). This is the ORIGINAL diet before sin interrupted everything!
I don’t mind being vegan but I can’t deprive my children by making them vegan.
To me, this one is a really strange objection. If you think a vegan diet is the healthiest choice of diet available, why would you deny your own children this benefit? The idea that you will expose your children to a meat based diet (quite harmful) so that your children can “make their own choice when they are old enough: is not respecting your children’s freedom and right to choose. In my opinion, it is denying them the best available diet that will help them grow to be the best they can be. Would you give you children candy for breakfast, noodle soup for lunch and ice cream for dinner until they are old enough to say: Give me some rice and beans?
Can a vegan diet satisfy me?
This is not even a fair question. Vegan diets are chock full of vegetables, fruits, legumes. All these are high fiber and are more likely to satisfy than a meat based diet. If you eat a 5 piece chicken “bucket” and dessert of ice cream; and I eat rice with black-eyed pea stew with salad, who is going to feel more satisfied? I am! Case closed. A vegan diet is more likely to cause satiety than a meat based diet.
I am a natural omnivore. I can’t stop eating meat
Millions of omnivores have given up meat over the years. You can do the same. It is estimated that about 1.62 million people in the US are now vegan. But other estimates are as high as 19 million. What is clear is that more and more “omnivores: are able to make the transition to veganism. If they can do it, so can you!
There are legitimate objections to starting a vegan diet. But as I have demonstrated in this blog, all these objections can be easily answered. If you have realized that a vegan diet is the most healthy diet for a healthy life, you are not alone. Veganism is growing by leaps and bounds. Now that your objections have been answered, are you going to step up and start the journey to a healthy vegan diet?
In the next post I will show you how to become a vegan the right way.
Until next time, this is the Natural Medicine Ninja saying ADIOS!