The demand for plant based products is rapidly growing. According to Veganuary, a charity in the UK that encourages people to try a vegan diet in January as a form of a healthier lifestyle and new beginnings, reached ground breaking numbers this past January, with an astonishing 250,310 people in 190 countries pledging to go vegan this year. “Beyond Meat”, a plant-based meat alternative is poised to exceed Tyson Foods, the largest meat distributor in the U.S. With a lot of people becoming vegan on a whim, a lot of misconceptions are arising.
Many people are shocked at hearing their friends are trying out a vegan diet calling it “restrictive” and “crazy” or even “extreme”. But the truth is, today there are alternative foods for anything a vegan heart desires. Sushi, cheese, butter, mochi, ice cream, deserts and burgers can all be made vegan.
Another misconception about vegans is that they are malnourished due to a “lack of sufficient proteins and essential fatty acids for the developing brain”. But in fact, vegans’ protein comes from several places. There is protein in legumes (nuts and seeds, beans, lentils, etc..), fruits and vegetables, there is also protein in plant based milks such as oat, rice, hemp, almond, cashew, and more. All of which are essential in a vegan diet. Plenty of natural plant based protein powders are available on the market as well. As for fatty acids, they can be found in flaxseeds, chia seeds, and hemp seeds which make for great additions to smoothies and overnight oats, walnuts, edamame, and soybeans.
If those considering a vegan diet, educate themselves on the basic needs of your body and whether or not they think they need any supplements to get sufficient nutrients their body requires. Most vegans eat an abundance of fruits and vegetables but if they’re the type of person that doesn’t eat very much then it’s recommended they take a b12 supplement, omega 3, an iodine supplement especially if pregnant is crucial (seaweed is high in iodine), calcium (found in oranges), vitamin D (met by getting in the sun or found in mushrooms).
As it is with most new things, thorough research and education is essential before erratically changing your dietary habits.
Reporter: Claudia Arce