Debunking 13 vegan myths

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We all know that fear and lack of education cause unflattering clichés to be created about certain groups. But as vegans, we sure have more than our fair share of negative myths.

Maybe it’s because there’s tangible proof that the way we live is helping the planet. Perhaps it’s because we tend to be healthier. Whatever the reason for unsupported myths about us and our lifestyle being bandied around, it’s time to debunk a few, once and for all.

Tongues firmly in cheeks? Then let’s get started and debunk some vegan myths.

1. We can’t get enough calcium

Nope, nope and how about one more? Nope! Calcium is easy to source through leafy greens, fortified plant milks, nuts and pretty much everything we eat. Dairy milk isn’t the only, let alone even one of the best, source of this bone-healthy mineral, so don’t worry about our intake.

2. Supplements are essential

vegan myths and factsUseful? Sure. Essential? No. The only thing we can’t get from our food, regardless of how balanced our diet, is B12 but we can add nutritional yeast to our food to get what we need while enjoying a tasty cheesy treat in the process. No need for tablets the size of our fist every morning with our first latte of the day.

3. We preach — all the time

We could, but who has the time or the energy? The ‘preachy’ allegation tends to be levelled when someone feels guilty about their own choices, but we know some of us do have a tendency to talk about veganism. A lot.

Think of it this way: maybe we just feel good, are healthier and notice that we are making a difference and want to offer the same opportunity to others? Can we get an amen?

4. Wearing vintage wool clothing is fine

“The way I see it, the cruelty of the wool industry has already been offset by the first few years of life and now, I’m just wearing clothing that means I don’t buy fast fashion.” An actual conversation had by one of us with a ‘vegan’ friend.

The ensuing argument about dressing it up however you like so you can buy the jumper you’ve taken a fancy to was not as cute as the garment itself, we can assure you of that. And why? Because the simple truth is that wool will never be vegan. Regardless of age. Nor will leather or suede. It’s an animal product and always will be, also known as, not vegan.

Read more about the secondhand clothing debate here.

5. Raising children as vegans is cruel

Is it irresponsible to raise the next generation to be compassionate, aware and confident in their choices? If so, then yes, we are a cruel bunch. All we are doing is taking animal products out of the equation and giving our children the freedom to add them back in later, if they so wish.

You wouldn’t believe how much time and effort we put into planning meals, researching the best fortified plant-based milks and trying to buy organic wherever possible. Of course, there are days when dinner is a few potato waffles with beans, but that’s got to be better than non-descript ‘meat’ shapes in breadcrumbs, right?

Read our story about raising children vegan.

6. We’re not strong or healthy

We dare you to tell Serena Williams this to her face. Her professional athlete face. We can train just as hard as omnivores, we simply get our energy from different sources. Yes, this is the protein issue.

From complete protein powders to tofu, tempeh and seitan — and don’t forget the humble chickpea — we can bulk up with the best of them. Hence, there is a growing number of vegan bodybuilders and more pro athletes than ever before.

Check out our in-depth look at the world of vegan bodybuilding.

7. It’s just an eating disorder

If meat and dairy consumption are the norm, on a technical level, you might be able to refer to a vegan diet as disordered eating, but we are being very kind with that, which is in direct opposition to the myth itself.

Eating disorders are nothing to be glib about and while there is a link between veganism and eating problems for some, it is by no means applicable to everybody. Suggesting it is, is reductive to those that need support.

Read more about veganism and eating disorders.

8. We are all spiritual

vegan myths debunkedA nice dream, but that’s all this myth is. You do not have to be a Buddhist, hippie or anything else to be vegan as well. We know that there’s a stereotype that includes incense sticks and a certain aesthetic, but it’s time to open our minds to the fact that vegans have no ‘look’ or singular spirituality.

9. Honey is vegan

We know bees don’t need to die to make honey for human consumption but that doesn’t make it any more vegan. It is an animal product. The animals cannot tell us they want us to have it, nor can they ask us to sell it for profit. It is made by and for bees and therefore, it’s not vegan.

Sorry guys, we know some of you really want it to be, but there are plenty of delicious alternatives out there now. Leave it to the bees.

10. We want to be on the fringe of society

Are you kidding? We want everyone to enjoy being vegan. We’d love to see the day when veganism is the norm and eating meat is the exception to the rule. This isn’t an exclusive members-only club and we are hoping so many more people will join in with the lifestyle and help to grow awareness.

We all know that demand leads change and if we keep veganism to ourselves, there won’t be an increase in consumer uptake for plant-based meat alternatives, non-dairy milks and other essentials. If we want to make a big change and enjoy the benefits of reduced costs for our groceries too, we know that can only happen with large numbers.

11. We all take part in activism and extremism

Not true. Vegans who have adopted the lifestyle for personal health reasons or those who are trying to lessen their impact on the environment will have little interest in animal rights activism.

That said, not all who turn vegan to stop animal cruelty have a desire to protest either. And that’s fine! To each their own. Shock tactics, illegal activities and extreme activism are not requirements for being plant-based at all.

12. Everybody loves vegan celebrity support

debunking vegan mythsWe can’t speak for everybody but honestly, we would rather celebrities didn’t reveal their veganism. Apart from Joaquin Phoenix and Rooney Mara who, quite frankly, are vegan royalty. Some would argue that when Beyoncé announces she is going plant-based ahead of a new tour, it opens her fan base up to the possibility of a new lifestyle, but we see the potential for flakiness and disappointment.

Few celebrities stick with their veganism and those that lose weight all have to talk about it like it’s the be-all-and-end-all. News flash: it isn’t. Oh, and if we have to sit through one more excuse-filled ‘why I ditched veganism’ Instagram or YouTube post from these formerly proud vegans, we might scream. Mentioning no names. (Miley Cyrus.)

13. Chips and side salads are all we can eat when out

10 years ago maybe, but have you seen how many vegan restaurants there are now? Not only that, but high street chains are embracing us with open arms as well.

We see you, Pizza Express, being one of the first that catered for us. In a pinch, we all default to the standard salad and chips option, but that’s when there’s absolutely nothing else on offer and we don’t want to be a pain in a group setting. More often than not, you’ll find that there is a vegan option on the menu now and that it’s delicious.

As the vegan lifestyle grows, there will no doubt be new myths to bust, but these have been a fun starting point.

Read as we bust more common vegan myths.

Amy Buxton
Amy Buxton
Amy is a committed ethical vegan, raising a next generation compassionate human with her husband and their beloved dog, Boo. A freelance writer with a background in PR, she decided to use the COVID lockdown period to refocus her client base and has come to The Vegan Review as a senior writer and editor, before moving into her external content director role. "What we should be doing is working at the job of life itself" is Amy's mantra, courtesy of Tom from The Good Life.