I am not a bodybuilder, nor do I ever want to be.
When I go to the gym, I stay mainly on the side with the cardio equipment, straying occasionally to the weight stations for a few quick repetitions on arm and leg machines.
I am not a bodybuilder, yet for some reason everyone seems to be so concerned about whether or not I am getting enough protein.
A lack of protein is just one of the many misconceptions that people often make about those who choose to follow a vegan diet, myself included.
The questions of, “how do you get your protein?” and, “are you getting enough?” seem almost unavoidable. It’s as if people picture me shriveled up on the ground, weak, and unable to move, because I omit animal products from my diet. At some point in time, it seems, there became a myth that a person can only get adequate protein from animal products. However, in reality, humans don’t need as much protein as people seem to think. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the average women should take in at least 46 grams of protein per day, while the average adult male should take in at least 56 grams. One of my favorite lunches, a black bean and lentil burger with hummus and carrots contains approximately 19 grams of protein, nearly half of my day’s recommendation, and a serious amount of plant-based power.
Some also argue that a vegan diet is not healthy. I grew up in a relatively rural town, and there seemed to be a consensus in those that were opposed to my dietary choices that meat is something that you need, and you cannot survive off of plants alone. Yet, here I am, five years meatless, and I would say I’m doing just fine.
Better than fine actually.
In October of 2015, the World Health Organization released a report that classified processed meats, such as bacon and ham as cancer causing agents, and red meat as a possible carcinogen. In a TIME article, entitled “7 Reasons Vegetarians Live Longer”, it was stated that vegetarians tend to have a lower blood pressure, live longer, and have a lower risk for cancer and diabetes. Plus, I’ve never felt better, or had more energy than when I am following a plant based diet.
Many people seem to equate vegan diets to that of rabbits–– eating only salad for every meal. And while I do enjoy many a vegetable dish, I also often find myself eating pasta, bread, Mexican food, and pizza. There is plenty of variety in my diet, and if I ever get bored, and need something new to eat, there are endless streams of vegan recipe blogs online that can give you recipes for everything from vegan mac and cheese to buffalo “chikin’” wings. Plus, Ben & Jerry’s released select flavors of vegan ice cream this past year that give dairy ice creams a run for their money.
It would be a ridiculous request to ask people to give up their meat and their cheese. Some people would rather die than give up their beloved animal products, and that is something that I both know and accept. However, I do request that you think before you judge a vegan diet, because there’s a lot more to it than you might think.