People are surprised when I tell them I’m a vegan. I’m not what they were expecting; I don’t fit the stereotype. It certainly makes me think that there remain a lot of misconceptions around veganism. Here are the most common ones I come across:
Misconception 1 – vegans are hippies
I think this the main reason people look surprised when I tell them I’m a vegan – much as I love them, I don’t look like a hippy. These days we come in all shapes and sizes, genders and ages. You can’t tell who’s a vegan just by looking at them.
Misconception 2 – vegans go on and on about being vegan
There’s that old joke – Q: “How do you know if someone is a vegan?” A: “Don’t worry they’ll tell you.” From a personal point of view, I’m probably guilty as charged! But I’m not typical. Vegan cooking is my job, I’m passionate about it and people ask me questions – they really want to know more. So it’s quite hard not to go on about it a bit. I do try not to be the first to mention it though. And yes, there will always be people who believe so vehemently in something – veganism, religion, politics – that they try to pressure others into adopting their views. But most of the hundreds of thousands of vegans out there are just getting on with it and quietly enjoying the benefits.
Misconception 3 – vegan food is boring
I’d say it was the opposite. When I became a vegan four years ago, at first I missed those dense, juicy, creamy animal foods a bit. After all, I’d spent most of my life eating them. But as time went on, I discovered that well-cooked plant-based dishes are simply the best. It’s true that they take a little more thought and effort than slapping a steak under the grill or a bit of cheese on toast. But with clever use of herbs and spices and by combing interesting flavours and textures you can create vegan dishes to rival and, in my view, knock the spots off meat-based meals.
Misconception 4 – a vegan diet lacks nutrients
The meat and dairy industries have been pretty successful in convincing us that we need loads of protein. In fact, most people eat far more protein than they need – and far less fibre. There is a growing body of evidence linking diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease to meat-based diets. A properly balanced plant-based diet provides everything we need. In fact, an increasing number of athletes are adopting a vegan diet to improve their performance. Probably the highest profile are Venus and Serena Williams but there are many more. There’s one nutrient that can be lacking from a vegan diet and that’s vitamin B12. However, it’s easily obtainable in supplement form and in any case is often added to plant-based milks. B12 actually comes from microbes ingested by animals at pasture. Since most animals are no longer at pasture they are fed B12 in supplement form anyway. Why not just cut out the middleman?
Misconception 5 – being vegan is expensive
Again, not true. By cutting out meat, fish and dairy from your diet you’d be amazed at how much you reduce those shopping bills. The perceived expense of vegan is linked to the processed meat and cheese substitutes that many new vegans think are necessary. They’re not. Just go for natural vegetables and pulses and get creative. And when you’re too tired to cook or short of time, just give Miller Green a call and we’ll deliver you a delicious, nutritious and surprisingly economical vegan supper in no time!
Anyway, these are just my thoughts on the misconceptions surrounding veganism. I’d be interested to hear if you have any others to add. Let me know.