The old stereotype of a vegan is of a sad, scrawny person who has wasted away from lack of meat and spends his or her time lecturing others on the evils of animal products. This stereotype is fading far into the past as more and more people become aware of veganism and realize that it’s not some silly fad that involves starving oneself and badgering others about their lifestyle choices.
The number one myth about being vegan (or simply vegetarian) is that one will become sick due to a lack of protein in the diet. This could not be further from the truth! There are many plant based sources of protein which come without all the extra fats that are found in most meats. Plant based sources of protein include: black beans, brown rice, quinoa, tofu, tempeh, seitan, lentils- even broccoli! Protein is found in many pre-made vegan products as well such as frozen veggie burgers which usually contain soy or beans.
One serious health concern vegans do need to keep in mind however is a potential lack of vitamin B12. This is not a problem for lacto-ovo-vegetarians (vegetarians who don’t eat meat, but consume dairy and eggs) as B12 is found in animal products, however vegans can run the risk of developing a deficiency in this vitamin which is critical for normal function of the nervous system. There are vegan foods which are fortified with B12, however it’s typically recommended to take a supplement or consult with a doctor about the best way to ensure a deficiency is prevented.
As a vegan myself the most bothersome stereotype about vegans is that they are uptight people who try to push their dietary and lifestyle choices upon others. There are some people who are like that and perhaps new vegans may be tempted to do that because they are so passionate in their beliefs, but most vegans are respectful to others.
Being respectful of what others choose to eat is one of the most important aspects of being vegan, because if one is mean and rude toward meat eaters, that will likely not result in the meat eater changing their attitude. Instead they will become hostile toward the concept of giving up animal products. Being understanding, answering questions and offering encouragement is the best way to get the idea across without being offensive.
Veganism and vegetarianism have come a long way in terms of acceptance. Vegan foods can be found in nearly every grocery store and vegan restaurants can be found in most cities. Tons of progress has been made in the area of substitute meats so anyone who is concerned about missing the taste of meat has plenty of delicious and healthy options to choose from.
Whatever diet one chooses to follow the key is to stay healthy and do all the research necessary to make sure it’s absolutely the right choice.