Six vegan diet myths busted
1) Not eating meat or fish is boring
It may come as a surprise to some, but vegetarian and vegan diets are not all brown lentils and Ryvita cardboard crackers.
I’m not going to lie– I am a total vegan stereotype when it comes to hummus, which I think should just be piped into my house like water.
But what’s boring about a diet that draws on world cuisine as its inspiration? Vegans can dine out in Huddersfield alone on Mauritian, Caribbean, Lebanese, Italian, Spanish and south and east Asian tuck and restaurants are including more meat free options as demand and awareness grows.
READ MORE: Vegan guide to Huddersfield
With an enthusiastic online community eager to share recipes and a town full of international food shops and supermarkets, I’ve never missed the stodgy Sunday roast or hamburger. But if you do, with a bit of imagination you can make animal free versions of everything from a fry up and Cornish pasties to Yorkshire puddings and ice cream.
2) Vegetarians and vegans do not get enough essential nutrients
Vegetarians and vegans should do their research to make sure they do not become deficient in vitamins such as B12 and D, iron, omega-3s, iodine and zinc.
But so should those who eat meat, who can run into just the same problems, especially with vitamin D intake and iodine, the latter of which affects a lot of poor, sun-deprived Brits.
And instead of relying on just one source, we have dozens of options to choose from.
Fortified foods such as cereals and marmite all contain B12 and vitamin D, which can also be found in tofu, portobello mushrooms and almonds, along with fortified fresh orange juice.
Omega 3. Veganuary lists good sources as flax seeds, walnuts, rapeseed oil, green leafy vegetables and hemp seeds.
And bin that image of us being sleepy, iron-deprived weirdos. We can get plenty if we make sure we eat a good mix of foods such as soya, tempeh, leafy greens, pulses, tahini, prune juice, quinoa and that gym bunny superfood, spirulina. Oh, and did I mention dark chocolate and dried fruit like raisins and apricots?
I do take vitamin B12 supplements just as a back up, especially when travelling. It is a small price to pay for saving an animal’s life.
3) But where do you get your protein from?
The remark that seems more common than hello when greeting a vegetarian or vegan. Perhaps I should just hand out FYI cards but I do love watching people’s reactions when I reel off the list.
It is true that complete proteins are most commonly found in meat and eggs but you can make complete proteins through plant-based foods even if not necessarily eaten together.
Why not try tempeh, cashews and other nuts, quinoa, soba noodles, beans, hummus, tofu, seitan and leafy greens.
Plant-based protein must do something, let me just name drop a few famous sporting veggies for you: 300lb NFL star David Carter, Lizzie Armistead, 2014 Mr Universe Barny de Plessis and ultra distance runner Scott Jurek. Tennis star Novak Djokovic and Venus Williams are also vegan fans, if not full converts, who’ve turned to the diet to help them overcome medical issues.
4) But surely dairy is the only place to find calcium?
Not so, my friends. Veganuary says adults need 700mg a day. They say we can get 300mg of this in just one 250ml glass of non-dairy milk. Then there are the foods like tofu, kale, brazil nuts and even oranges and figs.
5) It is expensive
Essentials such as fruit and vegetables, grains and pulses tend to be much cheaper than meat. And I’ve always paid less than my meat-eating mates in restaurants.
Tofu and other foods like nut spreads can take a little heavier toll on the wallet, but I’ve found it still cheaper than buying what is termed as good quality meat.
6) Soya is destroying the rainforest
Actually, it’s all that beef burger eating that is the problem.
As good as it may feel to believe those meat-free and soya loving “do-gooders” are gnawing down tree trunk, only six per cent of all soya grown is for direct human consumption.
The vast amount is grown for animal agriculture as a cheap source of food.
Veganuary says that vegans use up one less third of land than animal and dairy eaters, while the United Nations Environment Programme says more people should go animal-free to lessen their environmental impact.