The concept of eating vegan food has had a lot of connotations over the years. It went from being considered a lifestyle only health nuts would follow to a more inclusive one that simply meant you were either passionate about animal welfare, improving your health, or trying to save the planet. Despite the fact that there is evidence that the vegan diet supports all three of these notions, many people choose to nitpick the negative aspects of eating vegan and sensationalize when vegan folks “fail” or you know, make mistakes like the rest of humans.
There was that time when the media got way too excited that a vegan mountain climber died on Mount Everest. That time everyone was literally flabbergasted that the only USA male weightlifter to qualify for the Olympics is vegan (seeming to completely forget that we settled the whole vegan-protein debate a while ago). Not to mention, that time everyone got swept away with the study that said eating lettuce was worse for the environment than eating bacon (to the point that the researchers had to step in and clarify that that was in fact not what the study meant). And just recently, a riveting article was published on Mic, detailing ever so matter of factly how terrible the vegan diet can be for someone’s health and shockingly enough, the Earth.
Now, here at One Green Planet, we’re pretty used to people cherry-picking studies and trying to frame an argument that eating plant-based is not as fantastic as it may seem. We understand that some people who eat meat and cheese are very attached to these habits and that eating plant-based challenges this action to its core, but we feel that something needs to be said. Not because we’re angry that this writer thinks that eating vegan is not a stellar decision, but because some of her claims are just downright baffling and false and spreading them is just straight up irresponsible. So, yeah, here are 12 ways the vegan diet may have seemed like it was bad to the novice Google searcher, but actually wasn’t upon closer inspection.
1. Not all Meat Substitutes are Healthy – But Meat Isn’t Necessarily Better
Oh, what a processed world we live in apparently not even wholesome vegan foods can make it to shelves untouched. It’s true, meat alternatives sometimes contain unfamiliar ingredients. The one that seems to be in question in this article is mycoprotein, a protein derived from fungi (like mushrooms). Unsurprisingly, the author decided to refer to it as processed mold. But we’re not here to justify vegan processed food, we know that whole food diets are healthier, there’s no debate on that. The real problem is that this statement completely ignores all of the “iffy” stuff found in meat like beef and chicken. You know, little things like enough antibiotics to fill a pharmacy, as many hormones as a 13-year-old, and more fecal matter than you would ever want even near your food. But I guess those are okay?
2. Coconut oil is Highly Beneficial – and You Shouldn’t Be Eating a Tub of it Anyway
Every single diet in existence is going to have foods that are high in fat and should only be eaten in moderation. For those who eat vegan (and omnivores, for that matter) that food is coconut oil. Coconut oil has been shown to improve blood cholesterol levels, can kill harmful microorganisms, and can even help you burn more fat, but yes, it has a high amount of saturated fat so you may not want to eat it by the spoonful like an ice cream sundae. There, we said it.
3. Tofu Does Have Many Important Nutrients – but No, It’s not a Cure-All
The writer of this article claims that the benefits of soy are overstated because the amount of soy given to participants of the study looking into the benefits of soy were given far more soy than a person would realistically eat. And to that, we say: Hi, researchers have been doing that since the dawn of science. When testing out if a product is harmful or helpful, researchers tend to go overboard, it’s kind of how they verify their results. While we agree, that people are probably not proclaiming their love of soy products on mountain tops (except maybe the Soylent guy), soy products like tofu, actually have a lot of beneficial nutrients like calcium, iron, manganese, and vitamin B1.
4. It Might Take a Lot of Water to Produce Almond Milk … But Dairy is Still Worse
Ah, the infamous almond milk water usage statistic. We’ve got that one memorized by now. While, yes, this does seem like a startling amount of water to be used for a teeny tiny almond, let’s not forget that the average dairy farm uses 3.4 million gallons of water … per day. When we break that down, it requires 30 gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk – in comparison, it only requires 23 gallons of water to produce a gallon of almond milk.
5. Avocados Are Water-Intensive … But It’s Not Just Vegans Who Eat Them
Don’t blame vegans for the fact that the world loves guac.
6. Tofu Isn’t Destroying the Rainforest – Cows Munching Soybeans Are
Usually, in undergraduate Intro to Psychology classes, the difference between causation and correlation is explained. We can only assume that the writer of this article skipped that day. Yes, soybean production is causing deforestation. We’ve written about it extensively. However, to link the production of soybean with the vegan diet simply because there are vegan foods that are made from soybeans is irrational. Especially considering the fact that 70 percent of the world’s soy is fed directly to livestock. It’s not tofu-loving vegans destroying forests, it’s those darn soy-munching cows.
7. Livestock are Eating the Majority of GMO Soy
Soybeans may have the word “beans” in it, but did you guys know that not all soybeans are made for consumption by humans? That’s right, soybeans are used in a myriad of ways. Biodiesel fuel and crayons are created using soybean oil, laminated plywood is made using soy-based wood adhesives, and some car interiors are even soy-based. Now we can’t confirm this, but we’re pretty sure even the biggest health nut wouldn’t care if the soy in the cushions of his car was GMO or not – not to mention when paired with the above stat, it seems pretty clear that it might be more relevant to be concerned that your meat is eating GMOs…
8. It is Very Easy to Get B12
One study said vegans don’t get enough B12? More like a billion studies have claimed that a person following a vegan diet who doesn’t consciously monitor their B12 levels can possibly dip below the recommended amount. Please, don’t get us started on the B12 debate. Time and time again, it has been shown that vegans can get enough B12 on a plant-based diet if they act responsibly and seek these sources out. You can read all about it here.
9. There are Lots of Vegetables That Contain Calicium
Good thing there are foods other than vegetables that provide calcium (and every other nutrient for that matter).
10. There are Plenty of Iron-Rich Plants Too
Iron? People are still concerned about getting iron on a vegan diet? Here, guys, our gift from us to you: 10 Plant-Based Foods Packed With Iron.
11. Getting Zinc While Eating Vegan is Possible
Good thing we have this guide on How to Get Zinc on a Vegan Diet.
12. And Getting Vitamin D is a Breeze if You Know Where to Look
Thanks for the concern, but people who eat vegan have found plenty of different ways to get adequate levels of vitamin D. From fortified non-dairy milks to supplements and even just making sure to get some sun time in, there are plenty of ways to get this vitamin. (And good thing we have a whole guide on this too…)
And there you have it, folks. We know that sometimes the vegan diet seems like an ever-moving maze of nutritional ifs and environmental buts, but we hope this article has clarified some points a bit.
Lead image source: pathdoc/Shutterstock