8 Reasons People Avoid a Vegan Diet
If you follow a plant-based diet, you may often find yourself having to defend your decision. And if you’re toying with making the transition, you may have a lot of questions. Regardless of whether you want to ditch your burger, adding more plants to your plate can help your body and the environment.
You Don’t Get Enough Protein
If you’re eating a varied, balanced diet and consuming your recommended calorie intake, it’s not hard to get enough protein. For example, 1 cup of cooked spinach (40 calories) has 5 grams of protein, and asparagus packs 2.9 grams of protein in a cup (27 calories)—meaning it has more than a gram of protein for every 10 calories. Snacking on protein-packed nuts is another great way to hit your recommended intake. But remember to switch up your plant protein sources to hit all nine essential amino acids needed for building and maintaining muscle.
Plant-based diets are restrictive, just like any diet that cuts out certain items. And there’s a concern that you won’t get all the vitamins and minerals you need without consuming animal products. (“Where do you get your iron? B12? Calcium?”) But a vegan diet can improve your health. According to a study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it has may even help reduce cancer risk. In some cases, it may be good to add supplements to your diet (but be sure to talk to a doctor first). Dark, leafy greens provide iron, as well as the vitamin C to help absorb it, not to mention a host of other vitamins, including A, E, K, B6, and the mineral calcium.
If you love burgers or blocks of cheese, it can no doubt be hard to nix them from your diet. (And cheese may actually be addictive.) But today, there are so many plant-based substitutes to keep you feeling satisfied. Try coconut milk ice cream, nut-based cheese, seitan bacon, and soy yogurt. And one quick Google search gives you tons of recipes that are vegan-approved. Pro tip: Some of your favorite packaged treats are already vegan: Oreos, animal crackers, Lay’s chips, and Duncan Hines Chocolate Whipped Frosting.
But there is strength in numbers! One person transitioning to a vegan diet saves 200 animals per year, according to PETA. Going vegan also means going green: One potato requires 25 liters of water for production, while one hamburger requires 2,400 liters of water for production. A 2006 report from the UN also noted that raising livestock creates more greenhouse gas than transportation, and is a “major source of land and water degradation.” By becoming more plant-based (even if not entirely so), you decrease demand on the environment.
It’s Too Expensive
Not if you do it right! Sweet potatoes (a great source of complex carbohydrates, potassium, and vitamin A) and rice (rich in fiber) clock in at about $1 to $2 a pound. And while eggs, meat, and cheese are excellent sources of protein (and a host of other nutrients), they’re more expensive. Try buying nutrient-packed foods, like nuts and grains, in bulk, which will save you money (and give you more control over portions and variety). Beans and other legumes are about 99 cents a can, and when paired with rice, make a complete protein.
We’ve Been Consuming Animal Products Since the Dawn of Time
Sure, but that doesn’t mean everything we’ve been doing forever is all good for us. For example, high consumption of red meat has been linked to cancer. As the years go by, new research and findings emerge (debunking and overturning accepted nutrition truths)—but one thing that has stayed constant is vegetables is a good thing. So even if you’re not totally convinced to go vegan (we’re not here to convert!), making plants a staple instead of an afterthought is a smart, healthy move.
While food prep can take a while (regardless of what you’re prepping), cooking vegetables is generally faster than cooking meats. But if you really don’t want to cook (happens to everyone!), the beauty of a vegan diet is that a lot of staple foods can be eaten raw. As for items that have to be cooked, like grains, they can be cooked in bulk and frozen and then quickly reheated in the microwave. You can also find inexpensive instant rice packs that cook in the microwave in just three minutes.
Even if you’re allergic to nuts, soy, or stay away from gluten, you still have options. New vegan products are always coming out, and there are resources available that help guide those with allergies through the vegan diet. Allergic to nuts? Get your fat from tofu (plus protein!), olive oil, and avocado. Gluten-free? Try oats and brown rice. No soy? No problem: you have tempeh and seitan. Regardless of your allergies, plant-based and non-vegans should try veggies with hemp and chia mixed with quinoa.
Via, by Manon Blackman