Adopting a vegan diet is a personal choice and is often based on nutrition, animal welfare, or the environment.
If you or a family member has decided to make the switch it’s natural to have a few concerns. You may worry about maintaining a balanced diet or about finding somewhere to eat out. If it’s your child who has decided to go vegan, perhaps you’re worried they won’t get enough calcium or iron.
As with many alternative dietary choices, there are some common misconceptions. Here, the top myths that surround veganism are dispelled.
It's not healthy
What constitutes healthy for anyone is a varied and broad diet, and many non-vegan diets may be very unhealthy if nutrition isn’t considered. Vegans have the same nutritional needs as everyone else, so think about balance, eating a variety of colours, and ensuring you get enough of all the food groups. Protein is often a big worry as traditionally this comes from chicken, meat, fish, and dairy – but there are plenty of plant-based sources too.
Vegans are always tired
As long as you don’t load up on convenience foods, you will have plenty of energy. You just need to ensure you are getting any nutrients typically found in animal products, such as calcium and iron, from other sources. Most nutrients can be easily replaced by plant-based sources and there are also lots of fortified products available.
A vegan diet is expensive
As with all diets, the cost greatly depends on how much you cook from scratch. The most efficient way to economize is to plan your weekly cooking and shop accordingly. Expensive convenience foods can be avoided. Instead, rely on fresh produce. You will actually be making a saving by not buying meat and fish, as they can be expensive. Instead, gradually build up a store cupboard of dried goods. This means you can always make a meal on a budget.
The food is difficult to prepare
Vegan cooking can actually be easier than cooking with meat, fish, or dairy, as vegetables are very forgiving and adaptable. Cooking techniques are also largely the same, making the transition easy. Roasting, griddling, and barbecuing will draw out the best flavours from some vegetables, and grilling, poaching, or steaming can be used for fresher flavours. The only difficulty really lies in being adventurous, but this can be taken slowly. Start by adapting nostalgic comfort foods and gradually build up your recipe repertoire.
Vegan food is boring
People tend to think that a vegan diet consists of kale and salads. The reality is that a plant-based diet can be full of extremely tasty and varied food. It’s best to focus on getting a range of fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based foods into your diet rather than think about what you’ll be cutting out. The key is to experiment with flavour so your palate is sated; this way, you won’t feel like something is missing. Season your food well to enhance the flavours.
It's impossible to eat out!
Eating out is no longer a problem, as many places now offer a vegan option and there are increasing numbers of purely vegan restaurants. Many world cuisines have dishes that are traditionally vegan or can be easily adapted. Chinese restaurants have lots of tofu and vegetable dishes to choose from, but be on the alert for hidden fish-based pastes and sauces – it is always wise to ask. Indian cuisine often has lentil or vegetable specialities, but watch out for ghee and yogurt used in the cooking. Many Thai dishes are vegan, but ask, as some dishes contain hidden scrambled eggs!