Myths About Vegetarians That Deserve to be Busted

Myths about vegetarians can range from reasonable to pretty silly. These four, for example:

Myths about vegetarians are common, at least among us omnivores. That’s not too surprising; as we’ve pointed out in the past, food myths permeate our culture. Basic necessities do tend to accumulate myths, possibly because everyone deals with them every day.

Whatever their stripe — vegan, lacto-ovo, plain old vegetarian — those who eschew meat tend to be misunderstood, even denigrated, by those who don’t. So let’s try to clear up a few public misapprehensions that cause vegetarians trouble.

Myth #1: Vegetarians Have a Hard Time Getting Enough Protein.

While this may seem reasonable on the face of it, it’s not so. Protein doesn’t have to come from animals. In fact, there are plenty of sources of vegetable protein, most of which are high-fiber, low-fat, and cholesterol-free — facts that put these sources a cut above most meats, if you will.

They also tend to be rich in various amino acids and other compounds our bodies need.

Beans, peas, and nuts are the best examples of non-meat protein sources, but other options include (in no particular order):

Pumpkin seeds
Flax seeds
Brussels sprouts
Egg noodles
Brown rice
Oats and oat bran

All it takes to avoid protein deficiency is some common sense and planning.

Myth #2: It’s Okay for Vegetarians to Eat Fish and Chicken.

This is one of the silly ones. As lowly as they may be, fish and chicken are, in fact, animals. While some who identify as vegetarians do eat these meats occasionally, those who object to killing animals for food, or who simply dislike meat, do not.

Myth #3: All Vegetarians are Skinny.

This one’s kind of in the middle on the reasonableness scale, but it ain’t necessarily so. While it’s harder to overdose on calories on a non-meat diet, you can do it if you’re prone to overeating. And you know, some non-meat products are pretty fatty. Chocolate and other candies, for example.

While that may make for some happy vegetarians, it doesn’t necessarily make them skinny.

Myth #4: Meatless Diets Turn Guys Into Girly-Men.

There’s this pervasive idea that men need meat in order to stay healthy, lest they become the kind of 90-pound weaklings who get sand kicked in their faces at the beach. Or guys like Steve Rogers, before his transformation into Captain America. You see this idea expressed in books, articles, and even commercials.

Well… don’t let boxer Mike Tyson hear you say that. Or Olympian Carl Lewis, for that matter. Both are vegans, and there are plenty of other virile examples out there. As it turns out, this is one of the sillier myths about vegetarians; avoiding meat won’t harm your manliness, guys, one way or the other.