Over the years, a number of myths have surrounded vegetarian diets and those who adopt them. Most of these are misconceptions. What are some of these vegetarian myths and what is the reality? Let’s see:
All vegetarians are animal-rights activists. Research shows that most people adopt a vegetarian diet for the health benefits. The second most cited reason is animal rights. Even the people who mentioned animal rights say that health is the number one reason they follow a vegetarian diet.
Vegetarians don’t get enough protein. There was a time when nutritionists and dietitians even said this _ but no longer. Now, we know that vegetarians get plenty of protein. What they don’t get is the excessive amount of protein found in the typical modern diet. If you eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, then getting enough protein is not an issue.
Vegetarians don’t get enough calcium. This myth is applied, in particular, to vegans – vegetarians who have eliminated meat and milk products from their diets. Somehow, the notion got started that the only good source of calcium is milk and cheese. Granted, milk does have a good supply of calcium, but so do many vegetables _ especially green, leafy veggies. The truth is, vegetarians suffer less from osteoporosis (a deficiency of calcium that leads to weak bones) because the body assimilates the calcium they eat more easily during digestion.
Vegetarian diets aren’t balanced, so vegetarians are risking their health for their principles. First of all, a vegetarian diet isn’t out of balance. It has a good proportion of complex carbohydrates, protein, and fat – the three macro nutrients that are the cornerstone of any diet. Plus, vegetarian food sources (plants) tend to be higher sources of most of micro nutrients. Another way to look at it is this: The average meat eater consumes one or fewer servings of vegetables a day and no servings of fruit. If a meat eater does eat a vegetable, chances are it’s a fried potato. “Out of balance” depends on your perspective.
A vegetarian diet is all right for an adult, but kids need meat to develop properly. This somehow makes the assumption that protein from plants isn’t as good as protein from meat. The truth is, protein is protein. It is all made from amino acids. Children need 10 essential amino acids to grow and develop properly. These amino acids are as readily available in plants as they are in meat.