Common Myths Surrounding Veganism and Vegans
Rumours abound on the vegan diet and the lifestyles of its adherents.
Veganism has come a really long way since the early 90's. What used to once upon a time be a fringe diet that you took up only when you wanted to reduce weight, tone your body for modelling, or perform better at competitive sport, is now a mainstream lifestyle followed by millions around the world. In today’s world, people aren’t going vegan solely for weight loss, health advantages, or cosmetic benefits, and many are realizing the multitude of things they stand to gain by adopting a plant-based diet. Many are purely choosing to go vegan as part of their newly adopted ideals of slow living, ethical consumerism, mindfulness, conscious living, and healthy eating.
But the more the adherents for a particular diet or lifestyle, there more are the ideas and versions of it that are being talked about in the open. So naturally, there ends up being a lot of misconceptions about the subject in general, just like it is with other similar movements that have gained so much traction and have gotten so many followers over the years.
So let’s break down some common misconceptions about vegans that are floating around on the air waves:
We all eat salad
No, we’re not all about Buddha bowls, salads, Acai bowls, cold-pressed juices, and air fried snacks. But when the cravings hit, we indulge just like anybody else!
Look, not all of us grew up on Mediterranean or Middle-Eastern diets. But those cuisines are lifesavers for us when it comes to outdoor dining or socializing and have limited options to choose from. The salad stereotype is pretty fervid due to the fact that salad remains to be the go-to option at restaurants that don’t serve anything remotely vegan-friendly or don’t even allow customers to veganize the dishes available on the menu.
That’s one the reasons it’s one of the most viral stereotypes about vegans floating around in the social sphere.
We all run marathons and practice yoga
We’re not all about doing Wheatgrass Shots at six and worshipping the morning sun. Some of us start feeling extremely energetic and exuberant on the vegan diet which is why we develop a passion for Yoga, Running, and all things fit. But most of us just go on with our lives barring the change in diet, without altering anything else in a major way.
You have a huge spectrum of people on the vegan diet just like you do on any other diet. Not everyone turns into fitness freaks or health fanatics the moment they go vegan. While you will find a ton of vegans in the fitness and wellness space due to their newfound energy and vitality, they aren’t the norm, and there are more vegans who aren’t into those things than those who are.
It’s a pretty wide spectrum.
We don’t smoke
Okay, unlike all the other points debunked in this article, there might be some truth to this. A LOT of truth in fact!
Some vegans do smoke, but they usually don’t refer to themselves as ‘vegan’. They’re really just into it for the health benefits of the diet. We refer to such people as followers of the plant-based diet since it would be inaccurate and misleading to call them vegan. While certain brands of cigarettes might not contain animal ingredients, most of them indulge in animal testing, and have come under heavy fire and scrutiny from animal rights organizations for indulging in such unethical and barbaric practices.
“According to PETA, there is a long history of experiments on animals within this industry in which thousands of lab rats, mice, dogs, and even pregnant monkeys were forced to inhale cigarette smoke daily for weeks or even months. These animals then killed and dissected to study the harm caused by their bodies.”
So if you really must know the answer to this question, know this: Some of us smoke, but we’re desperately trying to quit or are on the way to quitting. Going plant-based is the first step we’ve taken towards achieving that goal. We know that smoking isn’t vegan even if no animal is being exploited for it since it is inherently bad for the earth, and that every living being eventually inhales the carcinogenic smoke that comes from burning cigarettes.
Like I said, for this very reason some of us might not refer to ourselves as ‘vegan’. Instead we’re just followers of the plant-based diet.
We don’t drink
A whole lot of us drink and a whole lot of us don’t.
Head on over to Barnivore (www.barnivore.com) to know what’s vegan and what’s not.
Here’s an example:
We’re all Animal Rights activists
Nope. Not all of us are into storming supermarkets, pouring fake blood on our bodies, or directly rescuing animal from cages to bring news and media attention to the deplorable conditions they live in.
Some of us just like to turn vegan for reasons most important to us and quietly carry on with our lives like nothings happened. No telling anyone about it, no shouting and yelling at restaurants, no handing out pamphlets to passers by, or even engaging in heated debates with them on the street.
Besides, most of the organizations organizing these protests and outreach programs don’t even require their participants to be vegan. I’ve taken part in animal rights activism during my meat eating days as well as after going vegan. You don’t have to necessarily stop consuming animals to protest against the mistreatment and cruelty they face at the hands of humans.
In fact, a whole lot of people campaign for the “humane and free range” cause instead of advocating for complete elimination of animal products from the human diet.
Secondly, you cannot miss the fact that so many vegans aren’t even vegan for the animals, but for their own health, the environment, human rights, a specific illness, etc. There’s a whole range of reasons to be vegan today.
So no, not all of us do a deep dive into activism once we turn vegan. Even amongst those of us who did go vegan because of animal cruelty, a very miniscule few are okay with actually getting out there and indulging in activism, or opening themselves up to criticisms of the movement which they’d receive from total strangers on the street.
It frankly isn’t everyones cup of tea.
Also, lets not forget that one has to be extremely extroverted and outspoken to actually be of any use to the cause at these events. Else, you risk getting pushed to the sidelines wondering what the heck you are even doing there when it’s clearly not your scene.
So there’s that!
We all take supplements
Just the other day, when my friend’s brother heard that I was vegan, he instantly went, “So you must be taking a lot of supplements, right?”
Hell no buddy! Other than the essential Vitamin B12, and the occasional Vitamin D, which is required during colder months (or in places that have very few sunny days), you’re really doing fine as a vegan. Unless you aren’t consuming a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, seeds, cereals, and pulses, you really don’t have to put your chemist’s number on speed dial, or run to the pharmacy for supplements every other week.
“The trio of nutrients to keep a close eye on are vitamin B12, vitamin D and iodine. You may not need to supplement with all these, all year long, but it depends on several factors.”
Gym freaks and competitve athletes do need to take supplements just like everybody else in their world, so they do take their vegan supplements to complement their lifestyle.
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We’re health conscious
No other bigger myth about vegans has been perpetuated for ages other than the “healthy vegan” myth. From being branded “hippies”, “yoga freaks”, “treehuggers”, and what not, “health freak” is one of the biggest labels you can attain for yourself as a vegan in the wild meat eating world out there.
But just like with everything else in this world, there’s a huge spectrum of vegan people.
People who eat only health foods fall into the category of ‘healthy vegans’. And even within the “health conscious” vegan space, there’s a huge spectrum of people, i e, you could be following any one of the following diets: WFPB diet, sugar-free diet, gluten-free diet, oil-free diet, raw vegan diet, organic diet, and raw frutarian diet, all fall into the category of a health conscious vegan diet.
Like I said in the beginning, not all of us are into Fasting, Yoga, Pilates, Juice Cleanses, or are obsessed with maintaining our body mass index below 24.9. There’s a massive spectrum of vegans who either follow specific diets for life, or for some part of the year. Some people like to let themselves loose during the holiday season and eat all things festive (vegan of course), and there are some who won’t give up their convictions no matter what, and then there are those who consume junk all year round.
So, you see, we’re a pretty big bunch with vastly varied interests that don’t necessarily overlap with each other. Enough said!
Tons of misconceptions about vegans abound online as well as in the physical realm, and this list is by no means exhaustive. You’ve bound to come across some of these assumptions during your lifetime, and might even harbour some of them yourself.
If this list entertained you with information, you’ll probably want to have a chill, funnier version of it for dessert. Here’s Lial’s article that talks about “15 stupid ideas about vegans that need to die already” (she makes some REALLY amazing points with all the evidence to back them up, so I wouldn’t skip reading it if I were you):
Do let me know your thoughts on this in the comments bar to the side.