Debunking 4 vegan food myths

Going vegan can often seem daunting, especially when non vegan friends and family are quizzing you about your nutrition. So we spoke to Serena, a Wellness Coach, Certified Yoga Teacher and Plant Based Nutrition Consultant who runs Wholeshift Wellness, and asked her to debunk the top 4 vegan nutrition myths.

Whether you want to go fully plant based or simply learn new principles to improve your eating, get healthier and happier, Wholeshift Wellness offers a 30 days nutrition coaching program for you. You will discover the benefits of eating more plants, how to transition smoothly and effectively and how to avoid the most common pitfalls that can get in the way of you achieving your goals.

Here are the top 4 food myths that create most confusion in the minds of many:

  1. Carbs make you fat: this one was definitely the first one that creeped into my mind and created havoc. I was SURE I was going to gain weight from all the carbs I would have to eat on a plant based diet. In fact, I had made peace with the fact. So strong was the messages my body was sending me against meat consumption that I had accepted weight gain as a possible side effect of my shift. Needless to say, not only did I NOT put on weight, I actually lost more and more effortlessly than ever before in my life. The truth is, not all carbs are created equal. For sure, if you eat a lot of refined products such as white pasta, white bread and cakes (although those have way more fat in them than carbs) you will hinder your weight loss effort and actually run the risk of not getting enough essential nutrients. However if you focus your efforts on eating plenty, and I mean PLENTY, of whole foods and wholegrains, you will simply fuel the body, especially your brain, with its primary source of energy (glucose) and eat a naturally low fat diet. I have never eaten so much (my portion sizes have more than doubled since going plant based) and weighed so little in my entire life. No joke. If you want to read more on this subject, I highly recommend a book called “The low carb fraud” by Dr McDougall. But the only way you will ever really be convinced I’m not lying is by trying this out for yourself: that’s the only way my clients finally shift their thinking. Once you realize you DON’T have to be hungry and deprived to be in great shape, nobody else will be able to change your mind ever again.
  2. You can’t get enough protein on a plant based diet: oh my. The protein question that comes up time and time and time again. If I had a penny for every time someone asks “where do you get your protein from?” I would be retired and living on a desert island (so I don’t have to hear the question ever again!). The truth is, plants have protein, and plenty of it. Or at least plenty to fulfill our human needs. I can’t speak for lions and tigers. This huge misconception that pollutes our mind goes back hundreds of years and is too often used as a marketing ploy but the food and supplement industry (they’ve gone as far as inventing protein enhanced water now!). Protein deficiency is virtually impossible if enough calories are consumed and is even harder if consuming plenty of nutrient rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes and starches. I have personally logged my food intake for weeks at a time into Cronometer (the best food log app out there) and have NEVER had a day when I hadn’t consumed MORE than enough of the essential amino acids our body needs to build protein. The myth of “perfect protein” confuses the public: we are led to believe that animal protein is better because it is more similar in composition to our own body but actually, according to the World Health Organization (which has now officially classified processed and red meat as a carcinogenic) animal protein is anything BUT perfect. Dr. Garth Davis expands on this huge misconception in his INCREDIBLE book “Proteinaholic”, which is one of the most interesting books you will ever read on nutrition (second only to “The China Study” by T. Colin Campbell). So the moral of the story is, don’t worry about protein; simply focus on getting enough calories from a wide variety of nutrient dense, plant food and you will be just fine. Actually, you’ll be better than fine: you will thrive!
  3. We need milk for calcium: milk contains calcium. That’s an indisputable truth. However there is compelling scientific evidence showing that consumption of dairy products is strongly associated with many diseases (constipation, skin problems, asthma, digestive problems and even cancer) making it FAR from the ideal source of calcium. It is no surprise that millions of people out there struggle to digest milk and complain of milk related allergies. We’re simply NOT meant to be consuming the milk from another mammal and especially not after weening. Milk is also often contaminated with bacteria, hormones and antibiotics (routinely fed to cows to maximize production). Not to mention the horrible conditions milking cows have to sustain for the entirety of their lives. Calcium is abundant in many plant based foods such as tofu, molasses, leafy greens and seeds: by getting it from plants, you avoid all the side effects of dairy consumption and will probably also loose a few pounds, or more, from the decrease in fat and hormones consumption. Dr. Campbell expands in depth on the negative effects of dairy consumption in his incredible book “The China Study”, delving into the MOST comprehensive study of nutrition ever compiled in the history of humanity. This is a read I highly recommend to ALL my clients as it clearly and scientifically expands on why we should all ditch the dairy once and for all. Don’t believe me. Read his book. His credentials as a PHD and lab scientist with over 40 years of experience in nutrition studies are WAY more substantial.
  4. We need fish for Omega 3 fatty acids: guess where fish get their omega 3 from? That’s right, plants! So why not cut out the “middle-man” and avoid exposure to all the unhealthy substances found in fish? Some of these are, for example: saturated fat, cholesterol and heavy metals such as mercury. The misconception around fish being a “healthy” choice probably comes from the belief that populations who eat fish are generally healthier than those consuming a meat rich diet. This may in fact be true but it’s not the fish consumption that makes them healthier, so much as the decreased consumption of meat! Sure your diet will improve if you go from eating cheese burgers and fries to eating steamed fish and vegetables. You will also improve your health if you go from smoking crack to smoking cigarettes or from smoking a pack a day to smoking one; that however doesn’t mean that smoking one cigarette a day is actually good for you. If you want to achieve optimal health and minimize as much as possible any exposure to toxic substances, you really need to avoid ALL animal products including fish and get your Omega 3 from the much healthier and abundant plant based sources out there such as flaxseed, chia seeds, walnuts and edamame.

If you want to find out more about how to effectively shift towards a more plant based way of eating, visit our website www.wholeshiftwellness.com and contact us to schedule a free consultation. #maketheshift

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