(Photo courtesy of emilytodhunterwvudietetics.wordpress.com)
It is quite common for misconceptions to shape the way we view something, whether it is something as complex as a religious ideology or something seemingly as simple as a dietary choice. In the context of vegetarianism, there are a number of statements that are frequently made to vegetarians that are not necessarily insulting, but certainly inaccurate or misleading. One of the major misconceptions is the vegetarian diet consists mainly of leafy greens, when the fact of the matter is that there are an abundance of delicious and healthy vegetarian recipes out there. The next time you hear one of the following statements uttered, try to think back on why the statement may be inaccurate or misleading, and take comfort in knowing the truth about vegetarianism is not the same as the perception.
“I could never do that.”
Many people want to try vegetarianism, but are afraid that their options will be extremely limited and quite possibly tasteless. This could not be further from the truth .There are so many healthy and delicious vegetarian options out there that make it really simple to abide by the dietary lifestyle. A simple online search will reveal a wealth of options that you would never believe were vegetarian. There are so many great companies out there producing plant-based products that serve as fine meat substitutes. There are plenty of options available, all of them healthy, and tasty to boot.
“You could not possibly be getting enough protein.”
The idea that it is not possible to be getting enough protein on a vegetarian diet is perhaps the most irksome part of being a vegetarian. The fact is, it is actually quite simple, so long as you pay attention to what you are eating and are making sure that you are getting balanced nutrition in your meals. To further bolster the idea that you can get more than enough protein through a vegetarian or vegan diet, look no further than Carl Lewis. Lewis is perhaps the most successful track and field athlete ever, and was a strict vegan throughout many of his competitive years.
“Do you miss meat?”
Not all vegetarians miss meat, but some assuredly do. There are lots of different reasons why people become vegetarians, and it is not always for the reasons that you think. For the vegetarians who do miss meat, there are so many countless options in which a plant-based meat substitute can be used. These substitutes often taste extraordinarily close to the real thing, if that is what the vegetarian wants. The plant-based substitute is likely to be significantly healthier as well.
“Are you sure that it is healthy?”
One of the biggest misconceptions is that it cannot possibly be healthy to eat a diet that is without meat. Many people mistakenly believe it must be unhealthy to omit meat altogether. Well, the answer is that it is simply not unhealthy. Many studies are now showing clear links between the consumption of meat and increased risks of various diseases such as heart disease. Even if you choose not to believe that meat is a cause of these increased risks, you can look at it another way: Eliminating meat from your diet decreases the risks associated with these serious diseases and conditions.
“I would feel exhausted all the time if I did not eat meat.”
One of the prevailing beliefs about vegetarianism is that eliminating meat from your diet will cause you to experience fatigue in a variety of situations. The opposite seems to be the case with vegetarianism, as many new vegetarians frequently report that they feel as though they have more energy as a result of their dietary change. There are dietary reasons why someone would feel exhausted, but these are not related to vegetarianism. Instead, fatigue is often the result of some nutrient deficiency, something that is equally likely to occur in any dietary lifestyle if proper balance is ignored.
While these questions and statements may sometimes seem frustrating, there are answers. It also seems that there is more information coming out each day that is helping to educate the misinformed. Fortunately, vegetarians have a number of different healthy options for their diets, and they choose their lifestyle for a variety of different reasons. To be certain, explaining your choices can be frustrating, but at least the answers you give are likely to be reasonable, thoughtful and done from a health-conscious point of view.