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Vegan Myths Exposed

I’m all about keepin’ it real, and when it comes to being vegan, I tell it like it is. I’m sure you’ve encountered some well-intentioned people who have tried to “educate” you through tired, been-there-done-that half-truths in order to justify their decision to eat animals. So let’s take a look at some of the most common misconceptions about veganism and set ’em straight!

Myth: You need to eat meat to be healthy.
Fact: The American Dietetic Association (ADA) states that vegetarians and vegans enjoy lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, lower rates of hypertension and Type 2 diabetes, lower body mass indexes, a lower risk of death from ischemic heart disease, and lower overall cancer rates. The ADA concludes that vegetarian or vegan diets “are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”

Myth: Plants feel pain too.
Fact: Since they have no central nervous systems, nerve endings, or brains, there is no reason to believe that plants feel pain. If you want to be responsible for the least number of deaths possible, a vegetarian diet is still preferable to a meat-based one, since the vast majority of grains and legumes raised today are used as feed for cattle. By eating vegetables directly, you save many more plants’ lives than you would if you ate animals such as cows, who must consume 16 pounds of vegetation in order to produce 1 pound of flesh.

Myth: Vegan foods are expensive.
Fact: Vegetarian staples, such as pasta, rice, tofu, and beans, are much cheaper than meat. The money that you save from not buying meat can go toward paying just a little extra for nondairy milk and other staples, such as fruits and vegetables. You can also save money by buying food in bulk at grocery stores, on the Internet, or through catalogs. Click here to browse hundreds of free vegan recipes.

Myth: They’re destroying the rain forests to make tofu.
Fact: If you take a look at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s graph regarding agricultural use of Amazon rain forest land here, you will notice that the vast majority of land cleared in the Amazon region (86 percent) is used as pastureland for animals raised for food rather than for growing soybeans (4 percent). It is also important to note that 80 percent of the soybeans grown worldwide are used to feed animals raised for food.  It takes 16 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of meat. About 20 percent of the world’s population, or 1.4 billion people, could be fed with the grain and soybeans that are fed to U.S. cattle alone.

Myth: Cows have to be milked.
Fact: In order for a cow to produce milk, she must have a calf. Cows on dairy farms are impregnated every year so that they will produce a steady supply of milk. In nature, the cows’ calves would drink their milk (eliminating their need to be milked by humans). But on dairy farms, cows’ babies are taken away within a day or two of birth so that humans can have the milk that nature intended for the calves. Female calves may be slaughtered immediately or raised to be future milk producers. Male calves are confined for 16 weeks to tiny veal crates too small for them even to turn around in so that their flesh, sold as veal, will be atrophied and nonmuscular. Then these weak, 4-month-old youngsters are sent to the slaughterhouse.

So there ya have it, folks—the five vegan myths I’m sick of hearing have now been dismissed. Have you faced tough questions as a vegan? Share your stories in the comments below.

And keep fighting the good fight.

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  • Francisca says:


  • HealthyVegan says:

    ForcedOmnivorear: I do believe you have a choice. An ethical vegan diet is great, but often times, especially for those just starting, a far cry from an optimally healthy plant-based diet. For personal [and serious] health concerns, I’ve spent the past year scouring for diets that support optimal health. All that I’ve uncovered can pretty much be summarized in a book called “Crazy Sexy Diet” by Kris Carr–despite the whimsical title, all the information is evidence-based and very accessible. I implore you to look up both the book and the author. The book addresses gluten and celiac disease, and also features a testimonial of someone who recovered significantly from Crohn’s Disease after going on this diet. You already don’t like meat and would otherwise prefer veganism, so why not try something that can finally coalesce your taste and ethics with your health? Check it out!

  • lucy says:

    being a vegan makes me happy! I wish others would see the joy and heath benefits that a delicious vegan menu and lifestyle can offer.

  • aisha says:

    people tell me im supposed to drink regular milk to be healthy and that regular meat has more protien than vegan milk, they are really trying to make it hard to be a vegitarian.

  • Ariel Romero says:

    Hello Nikhilesh, living in India I know for a fact you have a lot of coconuts and coconut milk! =) Making certain desserts and savory foods, coconut milk, cream of coconut as well, can be used as a very tasty cream base that has the same texture and an even better taste than if made with regular milk. As well,there is almond milk, and rice milk, which I’m not sure if it is available in India, but there are some good online sources which could help you make your own. These are just some options for cooking and enjoying non-dairy milk options, however if you are looking for the “health” benefits of milk. I suggest eating fruits and veggies like brocoli for the calcium. With the sun in India I’m sure you already get quite a bit of vitamin D however there are certain vitamins if you’re that concerned, but as well there are many food options to get the vitamins needed.

  • Happy Veg says:

    Hello Nikhilesh ladha, I realize that soy milk can be costly in India. Perhaps you may be able to replace certain recipes with coconut milk instead which is highly nutritional. I see that you say your mother does not allow you to either make soy milk at home or to have it there? I was a little confused at that part. However, I too am Hindu and I realize that the cow is sacred and her milk is supposed to be as well. However, one detail people do not realize in the modern world is that mother cow is being disrespected and harmed in milk production, even in India. She is often over worked, underfed and has her children taken from her. One of the deepest messages of Hinduism is to see the divine in all creatures. If we are truly seeing this, then how can we justify stealing what is not ours from the divine?

  • kalpana dangi says:

    reply to Nikhilesh ladha’s comment: I beleive that if cows are treated humanely and well taken care of then drinking small amount is not cruel. If soy milk comes in the packaging and you cannnot recycle and it creates trash then I would stick to something which is more humane to whichever is better for animals planet. I lived in India for 29 years. We used to get fresh milk directly from the farm. No pakaging no waste. I beleive that buffalos were treated humanely. Time has changed. We ge every thing prepackaged and there is no contol over it. Another thing you can try is alternate milk and soy.

  • kalpana dangi says:

    I always lisen to these words “Do you know that vegetarians do not get B12”? I am sure that people who speak these do not know that Galilio, the Italian physicist was not only Vegan but also never had Garlic, onion or Beans in his entire life. And all his students also did not eat any of those. I beleive that high protein that meat based diet is the taboo of Modern world. Vegetarians rule the world. Meat does not develop brain. I donot drink soy cause it comes in virgin carton packaging. I donot like to cut trees. Austin does nto recycle cartons.

  • ForcedOmnivorear says:

    I LOATHE eating meat & other animal products, but what I loathe even more are the vegans I encounter who say I’m just “too lazy” to live a vegan lifestyle. I have celiac disease & crohns disease & as such I cannot eat containing gluten and have to eat a low fiber diet. Can anyone tell me how a vegan diet is possible?

  • Mattermind says:

    Almond milk is an awesome alternative to soy! As a new vegan, I get annoyed when “vegetarian” products are loaded with corn syrup (hearing me, Cuties?) and other crap. Just because there’s no meat, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily healthy.

  • SavePiglet says:

    LOVE THIS ARTICLE!!! Everything her is soo true. I am a vegan and one myth I also hear alot is that if we don’t kill poor helpless animals the world will become so crowded with animals we, the people will eventually be squished by the animals and die. It may sound very strange but its something to think about.

  • Esther says:

    I have so many people tell me that exact thing “plants feel pain too” thank you for giving me something to tell them to shut up and possibly look into my lifestyle choices.

  • rissa says:

    Although I respect the urgency of vegan propaganda on this website, I wish that PETA would also give regular vegetarian lifestyles just as much effort on this site. Not all of us can be vegan or strict vegetarians. I think that with an open mind, vegans should accept and encourage people who are trying to live th vegetarian lifestyle.

  • Kerra says:

    Though I have not “fallen” for any of these myths, they are widespread. Misinformation is the greatest problem we have in our efforts to promote veganism, since societal preaching has generally favored a meat and dairy based diet. Unless one is familiar with the research, or actively seeks out the knowledge, it is easy to get caught up in erroneous details.

  • Kristin Martin says:

    To the person who wants to go vegan but the price of soymilk is double–I say do it anyway and just pay double the price! Sure it costs more, as do many vegan foods (according to MY grocery bill, anyway) but its worth it!!! Just look at it as a donation you’re making to the world in order to prevent the suffering of animals.

    Myths I’ve heard from vegans that I find for myself not to be true:
    -Going vegan gives you more energy.
    -Going vegan makes you lose weight.
    -Going vegan gives you glowing clear skin and whiter eyes.

    I went vegan several months ago from a meat filled diet and have experienced NONE of these changes. I feel and seem exactly the same as I was before.

    Its STILL very much worth it because I haven’t lose anything but I have gained the knowledge that I’m doing so much by making this one small change in my life to help others.

    And everyone here can too! Isn’t that great?

  • karaleigh says:

    This isn’t a vegan myth, per se, but a dumb question that I have been asked more than once: “If you were stranded on a desert island or some other far-off land and starving to death, and the only thing available to eat was eggs/ meat/ etc., would you eat it to save your life?”
    My personal answer, which, I realize, may vary from other vegans’, is as follows:
    If that HIGHLY unlikely scenario were ever to occur, and I felt there was a reason for me to go on living (for instance, to help tend to my co-desertee’s) I would probably eat whatever was available to save my life, if survival meant I might possibly others’ lives. (But what the hell kind of deserted island doesn’t have coconuts or edible vegetation?? Alas, I realize it is an unlikely hypothetical.)
    For me, being vegan doesn’t mean I am a perfect human being, it means I am constantly striving for said perfection. To the people who confront you with these senseless hypotheticals, say:
    In a perfect world, I would never, under any circumstances, use an animal product, in any facet of life. But this is not a perfect world, and I am not a perfect person. I am, however, constantly striving, on a daily basis, to do anything and everything I can to lessen the needless suffering in the world. And THAT is what being a vegan is… trying, and educating others to try, to help to end the pain of those who don’t get to voice their pain, every single day.

  • Nikhilesh ladha says:

    I am a vegetarian and wants to be a vegan.
    But the main problem faced by me is to replace milk.
    I am a Hindu living in India.
    Here milk is a essential part of our culture and daily life.
    I want to replace it with soy milk but the later is not easily available and nearly double in cost. It’s troublesome to made it at home and my mom doesn’t allow it.
    What to do ?

  • Katie says:

    I completely agree with moving towards a more vegetarian lifestyle; something I am moving towards myself. But I think vegans and vegetarians need to be more aware of some of the products that they eat. Palm oil is a major ingredient in some vegan margarines. Rain-forests are cleared in places like Indonesia to make way for Palm. Also, soy is destructive; it takes an incredible amount of water and other resources to grow so other legumes should be favoured. When I cook vegan food for my vegan friends I try to use ethical plant-based foods as well. Organic coconut products are a nice alternative to palm and soy.

  • Gina says:

    Oh, I know how you feel…I deal with these idiots all the time. They just don’t know any better.

  • Svetlana says:

    Thank you for this post! I live in Russia and people ask the same questions. The question about plant’s pain makes me mad. It’s so stupid to compare plants and animals! People do that because they don’t communicate with animals they eat. They imagine just a sausage, not an animal. They should see eyes of their victims.

  • Jan says:

    I have been told that dairy cows have to be pregnant only once to give milk. Since the cow is milked its entire life it does not stop lactating. Thus, it does not have to be pregnant its entire life. Thus,it does not have to be impregnated every year so that it will produce a steady supply of milk. WHAT is true??? thank you!!!!!!!! Jan