Thinking of going plant-based? You’re not alone. Plant-based diets are increasingly more popular around the world. According to Global Market Insights, the global plant milk market is expected to be worth more than $21 billion by 2024, and that’s $13 billion more than in 2016.
As consumers adopt a plant-based diet, companies continue to create new meatless and dairy-free products. The plant-based diet focuses primarily on whole foods, often derived from plants. This includes, but is not limited to: fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and legumes.
Nutritional experts revere this diet for its many health benefits. Plant-based diets have been shown to treat and reverse metabolic syndrome and prediabetes, while the Adventist Health Study suggested that plant-based individuals may benefit from a 12 percent lower risk of death, compared with those who eat meat.
It’s true that a plant-based diet is healthy, but you may have doubts thanks to all the misconceptions floating around. Here, we debunk some of the most common myths about adopting a plant-based diet in hopes that you’ll be inspired to cut back on your meat consumption and give more plant-based meals a try.
Myth #1: A plant-based diet is super expensive.
It’s common to think a plant-based diet may be expensive, but it really depends on where you shop. Many key components of the diet are very affordable. Fruits, veggies, legumes, and beans can be bought frozen or canned at the grocery store. You could even grow your own produce at home to save on fresh goods.
Plant-based substitutes such as vegan cheeses and faux meat may be quite costly, but these are considered indulgences rather than regular grocery grab. Mayne of them can be made at home with whole foods, such as veggie burgers or coconut milk cheesecake. Not only will this keep costs low, it will give you more nutrients with minimally-processed foods.
Myth #2: A plant-based diet is too restrictive.
That being said, you don’t have to eat a strict diet of fruits and vegetables to keep it plant-based. There are a whole world of options. It just takes an open-mind. Focus on what you can eat instead of brooding over the foods you avoid.
It also takes a creative perspective to recreate almost anything you want with plant-based foods. Legumes and vegetables are very versatile. You can dress them up with any spices and seasoning you like for a tasty meal. These days, there are plenty of plant-based options in grocery stores, restaurants, and cafes. You can also remove the meat off of many dishes, such as ordering a lettuce and tomato sandwich without the bacon.
Myth #3: Plant-based diets are not safe for children.
Despite the soaring popularity of the plant-based diets in recent years, many pediatric experts have criticized it for nutritional inadequacy. Current research shows that individuals of any age following a complete vegan diet are at risk for deficiencies in vitamin D, calcium, iron, Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12. It can be safe if gained through food or supplementation. Both the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has deemed a plant-based diet safe for children.
In fact, research has suggested that a plant-based diet is extremely beneficial to children as it instills healthy eating habits early-on. A 2018 study published in Nutrition Reviews found that a plant-based diet during childhood reduces the risk for cardiovascular disease in adulthood while promoting longevity and good health. A plant-based diet is not only good for animals and the environment, but also the health of your little ones.
Myth #4: Plant-based diets have no protein.
This is one of the most common concerns with a plant-based diet, but there’s nothing really to worry about. Protein is found in all foods, it near impossible to have protein deficiency with a well-balanced diet. Plant-based foods rich in protein include tofu, lentils, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Many of these foods will also keep you satiated, meaning you’ll feel fuller longer.
Individuals who need more protein like children, seniors and even highly active adults can get their daily recommended amount of protein from plant-based foods. Many trainers and high-performance athletes are starting to embrace plant-based and plant-forward diets for better nutrition while staying fit. It goes to show that it is possible to limit or avoid animal products with intense activity.
Myth #5: A plant-based diet is low in calcium.
Calcium is an important essential mineral that’s crucial for bone health, heartbeat regulation and effective blood clotting. Since most dairy products have calcium, it is easy to believe that a plant-based diet will not provide adequate calcium. However, many calcium-rich foods come from plant-based foods.
Dark, leafy green vegetables have a variety of health benefits, such as high amounts of calcium. For example, one cup (190 grams) of cooked collard greens has 266 mg — a quarter of the recommended amount of calcium you need in a day. A popular calcium-rich food eaten by many plant-based eaters is fortified cereal, which contains added vitamins and minerals. Some fortified cereals can deliver up to the full recommended amount of calcium needed per day.
So there you have it. Eating a plant-based diet can be affordable, enriching and highly nutritious. It might be intimidating at first, but if you approach the switch with an open mind, you’ll soon enjoy the culinary adventure. Broaden your horizons and try something new. The environment and your gut will thank you.