There are so many myths about going plant based – some I even believed before going plant based myself.
In this post, I’ll break down three of the biggest myths I’ve come across about going plant based.
1) You need dairy for strong bones
Shortly after cutting dairy from my diet, someone said to me, “but where will you get calcium!?”
And honestly, I didn’t know at the time.
What I did know was I had a stomachache for days after eating it, and I wasn’t going to continue eating something that made me sick.
I grew up in the age of “milk, it does a body good.” And “Got Milk?” I still remember those milk mustache ads.
But I learned a few things on my own plant based journey:
Cows’ milk exists for the same reason as the milk of every other animal – to feed its babies. While it does contain nutrients that people can benefit from, it isn’t a necessary part of our diets.
When we were babies, our bodies produced a special enzyme called lactase that helped us digest the lactose in our mother’s milk. As we grew older, for many of us this enzyme stopped being produced, which means we don’t digest dairy well. This is why we experience symptoms of lactose intolerance.
So it turns out that lactose intolerance isn’t a disease or deficiency. It’s part of the normal development of all animals that drink milk from their mothers as babies.
Most of the world’s population struggles to digest dairy after infancy for this reason. African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Latinos are more likely to experience lactose intolerance.
In some places, such as Northern Europe, many people carry a gene that allows them to digest lactose in adulthood. But this is the exception, rather than the rule when you consider the global population.
Thankfully, plant foods offer plenty of calcium – without the stomach aches. Leafy greens such as collard and mustard greens, and beans like navy and great northern beans are some of the best sources.
2) Healthy/Plant based food is expensive
If I had a dollar for every time I heard that eating healthy is expensive…let’s just say I could afford all the healthy food I wanted.
And honestly, I understand where this perception comes from.
It’s when you go into a coffee shop and regular milk is pennies but oat or almond milk is like…$18.
Or when you go into Whole Foods trying to be healthy then feel like it should really be called Whole Paycheck.
OR when you hear how bad pesticides are and decide to buy organic then you’re picking your jaw up off the floor after seeing the prices.
BUT – all that being said, I promise you can still eat healthy on a budget.
You just need to know what to look for, for example:
- Dried beans are very inexpensive and so good for you
- Canned beans don’t cost much more
- In season produce is often abundant and affordable, especially toward the end of the season (don’t be afraid to use your freezer to stock up)
Also gardening – I’ll have to get into that in another post.
3) You have to be “that guy”
So many of the women I talk to about changing their diets for the better are concerned that it will create strain in their relationships with friends and family or awkwardness in social settings.
They don’t want to be “that guy.”
You know, the one who orders the sad looking salad at the barbecue place.
Or the one who has nothing else to eat except the weak “vegan option” at events.
Or the one getting the side eye from family and friends because you supposedly think you’re better than them for trying to eat better.
This one can get complicated because it’s not a myth that people may struggle initially when you start making changes in your life if that’s something new for you (or them).
The part that’s a myth is that you’ll always be on the sidelines eating boring food that doesn’t taste good, or that it’s impossible for your family and friends to support you – even if it requires a change of heart.
When attending events where there’s no good plant based option, it’s usually a non issue to fill your plate with side dishes, bring a lunch, or grab a plant based option at a local take out place.
Or – if it’s something you’re comfortable with – just go omnivore for a day.
The diet mentality says you “have to” eat certain things and you “can’t” eat others.
On the other hand, when you make a lifestyle change like going plant based, it’s 100% your choice what you eat on any given day because you’re thinking more about the big picture. The overall context of your diet.
If ordering a turkey sandwich or wings for a conference once in awhile won’t make any difference for your health goals, go for it!
Also, instead of making your family and friends feel uncomfortable, changing your diet could open you up to new options to explore.
There are plenty of restaurants that have good plant based options. There are also plant based restaurants that have options that omnivores will enjoy.
It’s easy enough using apps like Yelp or Happy Cow to locate plant based food.
As for family and friends who may be skeptical, here’s the thing: when other people make positive changes, it makes us look at ourselves.
There are two kinds of people: 1) those of us who look at ourselves, see things we don’t like, and are motivated to change, and 2) those who look at ourselves, see things we don’t like, and are determined to bring others down to where we are.
Sometimes, that second type comes around over time. The best thing you can do in this situation is have compassion for them, let them know their current choices are ok and that you’re not judging them. Let them know you’re making you’re choices for you and you still love and respect them whether they want to change in this way or not.
You never know – you may even be surprised when they start giving you tips and recipes down the line!
What are some of the biggest myths you’ve come across about going plant based?
Why humans have evolved to drink milk https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190218-when-did-humans-start-drinking-cows-milk
Calcium and strong bones; Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine
THE 4 STEP SYSTEM
TO GO PLANT BASED THE EASY WAY
A FREE CLASS HOSTED BY KAYA CASPER