Two weeks ago I attended 2011 VegFest Colorado organized by the Vegetarian Society of Colorado. As a vegan, it was one of the few places in Colorado that I knew I could eat absolutely everything without having to say "hold the cheese" or "can I substitute veggies?" There's something liberating about being around those who share your viewpoints surrounding food and lifestyle.
But even though vegans all subscribe to the same basic knowledge, it's amazing how one person can present the facts in a new way as if you have never heard them before.
That's thanks to Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, vegan, founder of Compassionate Cooks and author of numerous vegan cookbooks, including The 30-Day Vegan Challenge due out this August. She spoke at VegFest in a session titled "Getting to the Meat of the Matter" where she debunked these popular myths about veganism.
I don't have time to be vegan.
Lots of people use time as an excuse for poor health, whether it's eating or exercising. Yet many of us have time to drive to a restaurant, wait an hour for a meal, and then drive back home when that time could have been spent making and eating a healthier meal in less time.
I tried being vegetarian for 7 years, but I was hungry all the time.
Patrick-Goudreau's response: Eat! Nothing says you need to stick to three big meals a day. Find an eating schedule that works for you. Many people who switch solely to a plant-based diet find they'll need to eat more because the foods are generally lower in fat and calories, and don't trigger the full (often bloated) feeling that occurs after a huge meal. Although, you certainly can overeat by being vegan, too!
Vegans don't get enough protein.
Bar none, this is the most popular myth about veganism. Here's where Patrick-Goudreau voiced an age-old problem in a new way: "Why don't we have kwashiorkor wards in hospitals? The way people are so obsessed with protein deficiency, you'd think we'd see this in the U.S., right?" she said. Kwashiorkor is a form of childhood malnutrition that's marked by protein deficiency.
Very few children in the U.S. suffer from this, but you've probably seen pictures from children in third-world countries who have distended bellies and fail to gain weight and grow. We don't have problems with protein deficiency in the U.S.—we have "diseases of excess," said Patrick-Goudreau.
Lactose-intolerance is weird.
By seven our bodies stop making lactase, which is essential for breaking down lactose found in human and animal milk, said Patrick-Goudreau. When a child develops lactose-intolerance, it's because biologically she or he is not meant to keep drinking milk beyond infancy. Yet millions have this condition and are considered to have a "special diet" because of it and warned that they won't be able to get enough calcium. Actually, lactose-intolerance is the norm, said Patrick-Goudreau. And you can get calcium directly from plants, which is where the animal gets it from to begin with.
If you're curious about veganism, Delicious Living has lots of recipes and tips to help you get started.
Which myth is most challenging for you to overcome, and why?