There are a lot of myths about vegan and whole food plant-based diets. So what's true and what's not? We're here to shine light on the most comment myths about eating plant-based.
It’s no secret that our diets and our health are intrinsically connected. It’s basic cause and effect; when we consume the right nutrients, our bodies have the resources they need to function properly.
On the other hand, when we consume junk, our bodies respond in kind — with low energy levels, unhealthy weight gain, decreased mental focus, and significantly increased risk of illness (including life-threatening illness). And as the American diet continues to eschew balanced nutrition in favor of high-fat, high-sugar food options, our nation’s health is headed for some serious problems.
That’s where the whole-food plant-based (WFPB) diet comes in.
The whole-food plant-based diet is similar to the vegan diet, except that it takes things beyond just avoiding animal products. Instead, the WFPB diet puts the focus on eating whole foods, natural and unrefined, for a complete approach to nutrition. WFPB-diet enthusiasts ditch harmful animal products in favor of fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, and legumes. They also avoid heavily processed or refined foods, such as bleached flour, refined sugars, and oils.
Simply put, the WFPB diet is a set of guidelines designed to ensure that you’re getting the right nutrients to keep your body healthy. Pretty straight forward, right?
Unfortunately, when it comes to finding information about the whole-food plant-based diet, there’s at least as much fiction as there is fact… and sometimes it can be hard to know which is which. Much like with the vegan diet, there are a lot of WFPB myths and misconceptions floating around, and if you’re not careful, you could end up missing out on something extraordinary.
So, to ensure that you’ve got the whole truth about whole plant-based diets, we’ve compiled five common WFPB-diet myths (along with the truths to set them straight). Take a look, and see for yourself why a diet rich in nutritious plant foods is the most effective path to a healthy life.
This myth is one that stems at least partially from a misunderstanding of what the WFPB diet actually is. WFPB is not a synonym for veganism; it’s a diet that is centered on eating whole, plant-based foods — with “whole” being just as important as “plant-based.” That means that if you’re eating this way, you’re consuming foods that provide you with the nutrients your body needs, without you having to consume animal products.
But aren’t there some nutrients that are only found in animal foods? The short answer is no. Let us explain: There are some nutrients that are much more abundant in animal products, and those who blindly jump into veganism or related diets may end up suffering from certain nutritional deficiencies, such as protein, iron, calcium, and zinc.
That said, each of these nutrients can be found in whole-plant foods -- and without any of the harmful byproducts, like casein and cholesterol, which are only found in animal products.
Vitamin b12 is a unique case, in that it isn’t found naturally in usable amounts in any non-animal sources, but WFPB dieters can still get the b12 they need through non animal-product based supplements and certain b12 fortified foods.
The truth is that you can get essentially everything you need from plant-based food options, but that leads us to our next myth…
It may seem counterintuitive, but the WFPB diet isn’t about compulsively counting nutrients. How can this be? Well, it’s simple: If you’re eating the right foods, nutrition labels become redundant. A piece of organic broccoli isn’t going to have a bunch of hidden ingredients, so you don’t have to worry about checking a label before you eat it.
In fact, apart from doing the whole “WFPB diet for beginners” research thing — figuring out which whole plant-based foods and WFPB recipes you need to get familiar with — you can pretty much just follow the basic guidelines and enjoy the benefits without having to calculate nutritional intakes ever again.
Here’s a quick question for you: What costs more, a piece of fruit or a hamburger? When people think of WFPB diets, they tend to conjure up images of costly ingredients and time-consuming preparation. But while there are certainly WFPB meals that fit this description, following a healthy plant-based diet can be as easy as grabbing some produce at the local farmers’ market or grocery store.
Plant foods don’t actually cost that much, especially when compared to meat. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as of September 2018, boneless chicken breast costs on average $2.89 per pound, ground beef runs $3.74 per pound, and bacon tops off at $5.50 per pound. By comparison, protein packed beans are only $1.33 per pound. In fact, across the board plant-based foods are nearly always less expensive than meat.
But yes, if you want to eat healthy and enjoy the WFPB diet, you may want to invest time into learning some WFPB recipes. The good news is a lot of plant-based diet practitioners learn to really enjoy cooking. Doesn’t sound like you? Don’t worry - it’s not a requirement! You can always order high-quality, ready-made WFPB meals delivered directly to your door from Mamasezz.
If you're worried about not being able to fill your stomach, you should be aware that plant-based diets consist of much more than light salads; there is a whole exciting world of plant-based food out there and these recipes incorporate tubers, whole grains, legumes, lentils, beans and other foods that are generally high in fiber and water, both of which are essential in helping you feel satisfied after eating. As such, a plant-based meal has the capacity to make you feel more satiated than the same serving size of animal-based food.
And, as far as energy is concerned, as long as you’re getting the nutrients your body needs by eating nutritionally dense, whole, plant-based foods, then there’s no dietary reason why you should be suffering from fatigue. Does that mean that you’ll never feel lethargic? No, it just means that if you do it won’t be your diet that’s to blame.
Studies suggest that 76% of employed Americans feel tired most days of the week, and you can bet that the majority of them probably aren’t on the WFPB diet. A steak isn’t the answer; if you’re feeling tired, then a little exercise and a better night’s sleep can help, and will certainly do more for you than a hunk of meat (even if you eat it sparingly).
This is what it all comes down to: Is the WFPB diet a healthier option, or is it not? Study after study shows that yes, it is.
First, those who adopt plant-based diets suffer from obesity at significantly lower rates than the norm. And given that obesity carries with it a whole host of serious health risks (including but not limited to heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and cancer), that’s enough of an argument to blow this particular myth out of the water. Add to that the fact that consumption of red and processed meats has been directly linked to higher death rates in America, and things become even more clear.
But more than anything, the results speak for themselves. Those who commit to plant-based diets generally report improved health and mood, increased energy, and better overall quality of life. No statistic, no study will ever be able to give you a better feel for how effective the WFPB diet is than your body’s own built-in monitoring systems. So why not give the whole-food, plant-based diet a try? If after a few weeks you find that you feel better than you did before, then you’ll know for yourself just how beneficial the WFPB diet is.
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding the whole-food plant-based diet, but that’s all they are. Let’s put these food myths down the disposal where they belong; by embracing the WFPB diet, you can become a better, healthier you, and that’s a fact worth sharing.