1. You can’t get protein. Although substantial research has shown that plants have all of the 8 types of essential amino acids and are more beneficial to the human body in many ways, many remain uninformed or informed from the wrong source (advertisements and articles from others not informed). There is really no need to focus on or worry about protein if you are eating a variety of plant foods. Dr. T Colin Campbell, a biochemist out of Cornell University who studied nutritional effects on health, explains in Forks Over Knives that, “Eating whole plant foods, it’s virtually impossible to be protein deficient without being calorie deficient.” He goes on to say that even rice and potatoes, which are relatively low in protein (8-9%), have an ideal amount for human consumption.
2. You can’t grow muscle. This ties into the protein myth. Although it’s true that animal protein promotes muscle growth in weight training individuals, it is because animal protein also triggers the release of insulin-like-growth-factor (IGF-1). This is a double-edged sword because IGF-1 is the best cancer grower known. If you wish to take the risk of cancer and gain muscle beyond what is normal, there are plant options available for increasing IGF-1 including soy protein powder. Normal soy consumption (under 3-5 servings per day), however, has not been shown to trigger IGF-1 release (http://nutritionfacts.org/video/how-much-soy-is-too-much/).
3. You can’t get calcium. Cow milk is for baby cows. Don’t you think it’s weird that dairy advertisements advise you to drink milk from their impregnated cows to get enough calcium? Shouldn’t that milk go to the calves as nature intended? Instead, these calves are denied mom’s profitable milk and as a byproduct raised and sold for veal. Calcium is a mineral that comes from the ground and is easily obtained from eating a variety of plant foods, especially dark green leafy vegetables and beans.
4. You need meat for iron. Animal protein contains heme iron. It is unregulated by our bodies and is easy to over consume. Plants provide plenty of non-heme iron, which IS regulated by our bodies. Your body absorbs more if it needs to, and rejects it if it has enough. Isn’t it wonderful how synchronous our bodies work with plant foods?
5. You need omega-3s from fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential in that we need to consume them since our bodies can’t synthesize them. Fish have omega-3 fatty acids, but they also have mercury, PCBs, dioxin and other industrial pollutants (everything flows downstream), and BMAA which has recently been closely linked to neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Lou Gherig’s disease. You can also find omega-3s in plants, especially flaxseed. We add flaxseed to our daily smoothies and/or oatmeal to make sure we get a good ratio of anti-inflammatory omega-3 to inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids (some sources have shown that getting at least a 1:4 ratio is beneficial to arterial health and reduces the risk of heart disease).
6. You’ll be giving up what you love. What we find tasty is relative. It takes about 3 weeks to change your tastes. I swore I’d never give up meat or dairy several years ago, but now that stuff sounds disgusting! My tastes have changed and I enjoy what I love now even more because it is natural, nourishing, and better for the animals and planet. There are also many amazing substitutes on the market that provide the tastes and textures of the meaty or cheesy dishes you may be used to, although they aren’t staples in our diet. I don’t like to call them “substitutes” because they are their own unique products and should be tried with an open palate.
7. It’s difficult. If you embrace a plant-based diet with an open mind, it is actually so easy. We eat pretty much the same foods we ate before going vegan, excluding the animal products. There are some tricks you’ll pick up along the way and some exciting new products you may get acquainted with. As long as you eat enough and get your calories (easily from starches) you’ll be golden.