Registered dietitians get asked about the vegan diet on a daily basis. Often the very first question is how to get enough protein. If you’re used to meat at the center of your plate, crafting your meals around plant-powered protein can take some extra forethought. But registered dietitians Regina Topelson, RD, and Melissa Rifkin, RD, say one of a few common myths about veganism that you can’t get enough protein (which BTW should be 46 grams a day, on average) from plants.
“Vegans get plenty of protein from nuts, seeds, lentils, and beans, as well as smaller amounts in grains and leafy greens,” says Topelson. The average American actually consumes more protein than they need, adds Rifkin. But the protein myth isn’t the only one these dietitians have heard.
The most common myths about veganism, busted by registered dietitians
Myth 1: Your sports performance will suffer if you go vegan
“You might be surprised to find out some of the top athletes in the world are vegan,” Topelson says. “You can find vegan athletes in almost every sport, and at the top of their game!” Take, for example, Venus Williams, who has been vegan since 2011. This myth is related to the falsehood that vegans can’t get enough protein. All athletes need to be mindful of their protein goals, but with the vast amount of vegan protein bars and powders on the market (on top of vegan whole food protein options that exist already), it’s 100 percent possible to be an amazing athlete following a vegan diet.
Myth 2: If you want to lose weight in a healthy way, you should go vegan
According to Rifkin, if you’re looking to lose weight in a healthy way, going vegan may or may not work. “You can lose weight by going vegan, but you could also over-consume calories and gain weight,” she says. Many vegan meat substitute products are high in calories and saturated fat. If you have a wellness goal of losing weight in a healthy way, it’s especially important to get the help of a registered dietitian who can help create a plan that both works for your nutrient needs and is actually realistic for your lifestyle.
Watch the video below to see what a registered dietitian thinks about Beyond Burger and Impossible Foods, two of the most popular vegan meat brands:
Myth 3: Being vegan is expensive
Sure, you can rack up a pretty hefty bill shelling out for trendy vegan products, but Rifkin says it’s also possible to stick to a vegan diet while on a tight budget. “Frozen fruits and vegetables, low-sodium canned beans, as well as dried beans are just a few vegan foods that are relatively affordable,” she says.
It bears repeating that a vegan diet isn’t for everyone. But if it is something you want to try, rest assured that you can hit your nutrient goals without breaking the bank to do so—including that all-important protein that can cause some skeptics to, well, have a cow.