More and more people are turning to a vegan diet, making it one of the fastest-growing global trends.

But why is this, the case? What about protein? And don’t plants have feelings too? There are many myths and misunderstandings surrounding a plant-based diet and it is time to dispel them. Here are the most popular vegan myths – busted.

The average recommended intake of protein is 42 grams a day. Meat eaters, on average, eat way more than the suggested amount – almost 80 grams! But even vegetarians and vegans get enough protein and often consume up to 70 grams per day.

What makes plant-based protein healthier than animal-based kinds is that it is free from cholesterol and lower in saturated fats, lowering your risk of heart diseases, various cancers, type-2 diabetes, obesity and weight gain. Vegans get their protein from numerous sources including beans and legumes, peas, nuts and seeds, oatmeal, quinoa, soy products and meat alternatives.

A plant-based diet contains all the nutrients needed to achieve optimal health when a variety of ingredients such as legumes, fruit, veg, seeds and fortified foods are consumed regularly. Fortified foods are necessary for both vegans and non-vegans. A good example is B12 vitamin, which used to be produced naturally in soil, but due to over-farming, the quality of the soil has decreased, including the presence of this essential vitamin. Manufactures now add B12 to foods like cereals and non-dairy milks, as well as cattle feed.

If you are concerned you’re not getting adequate nutrition, or feeling fatigued, go for a blood test to establish what you could be lacking, consider a multi-vitamin or chat to a dietician or doctor, before giving it up all together!

Soybeans naturally contain a class of phytoestrogens called isoflavones. When people hear the word ‘estrogen’ in the word ‘phytoestrogens’, they assume soy has estrogen-like effects, from causing breast development in men to disrupting menstrual cycles in women. Estrogen has positive effects on some tissues and potentially negative effects on others.

Soy phytoestrogen is classified as a ‘selective estrogen receptor modulator,’ meaning the body experiences both pro-estrogenic effects in areas where estrogen is beneficial and anti-estrogenic effects where estrogen causes harm. For example, studies show that soy consumption lowers breast, and other types of cancer risk (an anti-estrogenic effect), but can also help reduce menopausal hot-flush symptoms (a pro-estrogenic effect).

Most of the animals we eat are bred for that purpose: to be eaten. If more people started eating less meat, the demand for animals to be bred will decrease. It’s simple supply and demand.

A nervous system and a brain enable the sensation of pain. These are possessed by humans and animals but are absent in plants. Additionally, the vast majority of grains raised today are used as cattle feed; it takes 2kg of feed to produce 1kg of chicken. So rather than consuming both animals and plants choose to eat plants directly – you will end up saving the lives of more plants anyway.

When you’re at the grocery store switch your steak, ham, bacon and chicken for chickpeas, beans, quinoa, tofu, lentils and meat analogues, and you’ll see your monthly food bill shrinking. Staples like grains, potatoes, bananas and beans are some of the cheapest (and healthiest) things you can buy in the supermarket. Even meat replacements are competitively priced against meat.

Think Isaac Newton, Leonardo da Vinci, or Nelson Mandela. Total dedication by one person to his or her chosen cause can make a huge difference. The collective action of individuals have the power to make global change. If many people decide to stop eating meat, the markets will order less, and the amount of these products supplied will decrease.

This is a myth that almost all vegans are very happy to challenge. From hearty curries to wrapspies and pancakes, vegans love sharing their passion for food. Initially creating food you’ve never made before might seem daunting, but you will be amazed at how quickly you discover new flavours and recipes. Check out recipes from Meat-Free Monday participants and supporters.

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