April 3

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Plant-Based Truths vs Myths

Building muscle without meat is impossible. You can’t get strong without milk. 

Dropping fat can’t happen without chicken breasts or lean turkey.

The amount of myths surrounding the vegan diet has grown bigger each year so it’s time we look at some of these myths and see what’s actually true.

Growing up as an omnivore, I was fueled by the belief that the only way to build muscle was on a meat-eating diet. I was raised to believe that milk was the only way to make strong bones and get lean.

Fast forward years later and I’ve stacked on slabs on lean muscle without eating meat or dairy. 

Being fully vegan as given me than I ever could have imagined but has also made me much more aware of the environment and the suffering endured by the animals on our planet. 

Here’s a look at the some of the biggest myths surrounding veganism.

You can’t build muscle without meat.

The mother of all vegan myths, this needs to be addressed once and for all.

The reason why most humans believe they need to eat meat is due to the higher protein intake. While this is great, protein at its basic form is simply amino acids. 

Amino acids have a source and must come from somewhere. Farm animals are ingesting their protein from plants which are fueling their bodies with amino acids.

Relying on animal meat in order to sustain our protein intake is an outdated concept and one that has been proven consistently to be incorrect. 

All the amino acids that we need are available in the plants which grow from our planet. 

This is more than enough to fuel your gains and ensure that you keep growing consistently without living on meat. 

That being said it can hard to fuel your body with protein from plants if you aren’t familiar with plant proteins. 

Here’s a simple plant protein list you can use to fuel your gains:

  • Tempeh
  • Tofu
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Vegan protein-meals (e.g. vegan minced meat, vegan sausages)
  • Soya beans
  • Seitan
  • Vegan protein powder

You can’t get strong without dairy

The classic milk commercials where they advertise the benefits of milk and why you need milk in order to get strong bones and muscles have fueled the beliefs of so many humans.

But looking behind the commercials, it’s easy to see that the reason why milk was pushed on us so vigorously was to fuel the milk industry rather than for our health. 

Foods like kale have over 300% calcium per serving without having to rely on animal milk.

The myth that without drinking milk, our bones will get weak and brittle also doesn’t hold up. 

If you’re consistently fueling your body with the right vitamins and minerals each day while using strength training to rebuild your body’s strength levels, there’s no reason why you couldn’t keep progressing steadily without milk. 

Here’s an interesting study of the effect of dairy on humans also.

Plant protein is an incomplete protein.  

Another commonly heard myth is the incomplete protein myth. Mainly broadcasted by non-plant eaters, it’s easy to believe that plant protein is insufficient to fuel your physique. 

Protein or amino acids are the building blocks of future muscle growth. There are also 9 essential amino acids that need to be replenished consistently in order to stimulate new protein synthesis. 

Now while it’s true that not all plant proteins contain all 9 essential amino acids, it’s also easy to add 2 plant proteins together in order to give you the full range of protein. 

A classic example is adding rice and beans together.  When put together, you get a complete protein which allows protein synthesis to occur. 

You need to take 10 supplements every day as a vegan.

When you go vegan you need to supplement with dozens of different supplements just to make sure you don’t fall over. 

How often do we hear that sentence? Yet being vegan doesn’t mean you have to supplement your body with countless pills every day. 

In fact, there’s only 1 supplement that’s absolutely necessary for vegan lifters in order to maintain proper bodily functions which is B12. 

Since Vitamin B12 is found in meat, the need to supplement seems apparent. 

However, there are recent studies that show the animals which are eaten for their meat need to be supplemented with Vitamin B12 due to the lack of supplementation in their own diets.

Since B12 is originally found in the bacteria in dirt which is later ingested by farm animals, we begin to see that the need to eat meat is even less previously assumed. 

Now you may be wondering why I haven’t compiled a bigger list of supplements here for you to start adding to your shopping list. 

The truth is while you can add a ton of supplements to optimize your health and fitness, the vast majority of supplements which are generated are marketed to prey on people’s insecurities and fears. 

Yes, cover your bases with a solid multivitamin (if necessary), Vitamin D (which most people are deficient in) and Vitamin B12.

However, the idea of fat-burners, tea detoxes, and thermogenics to strip off fat and build muscle is nothing more than clever marketing which is designed to convince the buyer that they need to supplement and part with their hard-earned money.

Master the foundations of your strength training, nutrition, AND the way you think about fitness and you’ll progress faster than adding 10 new fat burners to your diet. 

When this happens, and only WHEN, can you begin to consider new routes to optimize your fitness. 

The vast majority of your results will come through hard work and dedication. The other 1%? 

Possibly through supplementation, if you’re a natural athlete (not juicing).

Your endurance will start to fade away.

There seems to be this belief that without meat and dairy your endurance levels will start to dive bomb to the floor. 

Yet example after example from Rich Roll who broke the record of marathon running to the Fruitarian who consistently hit new records in his running journeys continues to defy the expectations of what the vegan diet can offer us. Look at the evidence and let the evidence speak for itself. 

Finding vegan food is impossible

Vegan food is increasingly more popular every day, in more and more places throughout the world. From New York to the UK to India to Canada, veganism is truly flourishing and growing to new levels every day. 

Google inside of your city or town and you’ll be surprised to see how many vegan options are sprouting within new markets.

Even if there isn’t an abundance of options where you live, this doesn’t mean that it isn’t accessible to your meals.

Online stores are virtually everywhere allowing you to the ability to buy your food from online food markets like Amazon or food delivery services. 

The most important thing to remember is that vegan food is here to stay and access to every kind of plant-based food is rapidly growing no matter where you live in the world.

Meal prepping will take all weekend.

Meal prepping does NOT need to take all weekend if you’re vegan and love to eat delicious food. 

That being said, being intentional with the time you spend cooking and buying your foods would be a wise route for anyone who doesn’t want to live in the kitchen. 

An effective way to do this would be creating a time block inside of your calendar. 

 Whether that’s Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, create a specific time when you’ll shop and cook your food or even better create 2 small time blocks where you do your weekly food shopping and then do your cooking at a later on in the weekend. 

The reason why time blocks are effective is due to the time constraints it puts on your schedule.

When you decide to commit and create 1-3 hours for your meal prep each weekend, it gives you a strict deadline to get your meals made before the time runs out. 

It also keeps you accountable because you now only have a certain amount of time to get your food prepared without living in the kitchen. 

You won’t have a social life.

As a busy vegan professional, most people think that you need to live in the kitchen and carry supplements with you everywhere in order to maintain your health. 

They think that in order to be healthy, fit, and strong, you need to make fitness and nutrition the ONLY part of your life, sacrificing all the things that you love. 

How wrong is this perception?

Being vegan does NOT mean, your social life or passions have to disappear. Rather being vegan can completely enhance every other single area of your life. The benefits that veganism offers your life are countless and the simple fact remains that being vegan makes you different.

That means inside of social events, family time, or public affairs, people will always be curious about how you manage to be healthy without meat or dairy.

Not only does this make you unique in the way you can share your story, you also have the opportunity to share with someone else the gift that veganism has given you as well.

Do you know someone who could benefit from reading this article?

It would mean the world to us if we can get this message out to one more busy plant-based professional. Thanks!

References and Further Reading

1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2732256/

2. https://www.livescience.com/50818-kale-nutrition.html

3. https://www.pcrm.org/good-nutrition/nutrition-information/health-concerns-about-dairy

4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5598028/

5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29216732

Anna Zhanay

Hi! My name is Coach Anna. My passion for nutrition led me to become a Nutrition Therapist and PN Nutrition Coach which I find fulfilling! Before this, my vegan journey began vegan 5 years ago after struggling with digestion, hormonal, and skin issues for most of my life. This led to a complete change in my health and fitness. Now, my passion is helping busy vegan professionals SIMPLIFY fitness and THRIVE in their lives while enjoying the process. :)


Tags

clarity, myths, plant-based, science-based, truths


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