Perceptions surrounding veganism and plant-based diets are misinformed and naive

In Opinion
An illustration of a person looking up at a bunch of vegetables, tofu and legumes floating above them.
(Dalia Quiroz / Daily Titan)

“Veganism is unnatural.” “Humans need the protein from animals to survive.” “Vegans only eat salad.” The common misconceptions about veganism go on and on. These naive stances against plant-based diets usually come from individuals who simply can’t see themselves saying no to a lobster tail or eating breakfast without bacon.

However, these arguments lack research knowledge about what a vegan lifestyle looks like. Fortunately, with the recent rise in veganism comes a greater understanding of the lifestyle and how it helps shut down the flagrant comments made by mindless meat eaters.

Eating animals is a part of the natural circle of life. This common and probably ancient argument from meat eaters is usually backed up with examples of obligate carnivores in the animal kingdom, like lions.

But lions and other carnivorous predators have physical characteristics that differ from humans. With mouths opening as wide as their heads, these innate carnivores are built with tools to hunt, kill and feast on other animals.

Deadly teeth are another indicator and resource that natural carnivores are born with. Their incisors are short and pointed because they are used for grasping and shredding. Unlike humans, their long, sharp canines are used for stabbing and tearing at prey.

Humans are not born with these built-in meat eating features. In fact, with the exception of the canines, human teeth mirror those found in other herbivores, which are not sharp but mostly flat. Human teeth are closer to the teeth of gorillas, humans’ closest cousins after chimpanzees and bonobos, all of which happen to be herbivores.

So naturally, humans’ genetic makeup is seemingly better suited for eating and digesting simpler foods like grains, vegetables and legumes.

Vegans also face the common misconception that humans need to receive their protein from animals, and therefore, never adequately receive enough without a daily dietary supplement.

While it is true humans require protein, consuming animal flesh isn’t the only way to obtain it. Contrary to popular belief, protein supplements are hardly necessary in the vegan diet.

Legumes, nuts and grains, like quinoa, contain plenty of protein and are significantly less harmful to the human body and environment.

While it provides individuals with necessary protein, meat can also be high in saturated fat and cholesterol.

Tofu is a safe and versatile source of protein, containing all eight essential amino acids while also being an excellent source of iron and calcium, without the highly saturated fats, according to Jo Lewin, associate nutritionist for BBC Good Food. But vegans are no longer limited to the sponge-like white block of tofu that’s so commonly mistaken as a vegan’s staple ingredient.

As more people turn to veganism plant-based options have become more popular in most restaurants and grocery stores. Vegetarian and vegan-only restaurants can be found in most big cities with delicious takes on Italian and Chinese comfort foods. Gone are the days when a vegan would have to rely on ordering sides at a restaurant to meet their dietary requirements.

Luckily, even the most adamant of naysayers can see that being vegan is not an unachievable or easily dismissible feat. The currently available resources make veganism easier than ever before. When considering the animal lives saved and personal health benefits, leaving meat off the plate is not hard, it’s only natural.

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