I have been Vegan for over ten years but some stereotypes/misconceptions still get under my skin.Â For me, choosing not to consume animals or animal products (such as meat, dairy, eggs, leather, etc.) was an easy choice.Â Once I became aware of the cruelty inflicted upon animals in factory farms, the devastating environmental impact of eating meat, and the health concerns over meat consumption, the choice was obvious.
I love being Vegan.Â I feel healthier, I feel like I am very aware of the food that I eat and how it affects my body, I have a greater sense of where my food comes from and how it got to my plate, I have no fear of things like Mad Cow Disease, Salmonella, or high cholesterol/heart disease, and I have a clear conscious about the ethical consequences of my food choices.
However, whenever I tell someone new that I am Vegan, I am often hit with a number of misconceptions and stereotypes.Â I would like to take this opportunity to address some of the most popular misconceptions.
- Vegans are crunchy-granola-loving hippies. I cannot tell you how many times someone has said to me, “You don’t look like you’re vegan.”Â I assume that is because I do not look like a hippie.Â There are a number of stylish, hip, trendy vegans as evidenced by some of the more popular vegan websites such as
- Vegans eat ‘twigs and branches.’ Okay, this stereotype tends to get under my skin.Â I pride myself on being a bit of a foodie so for someone to assume I eat bland, tasteless leaf vegetables for sustenance irks me.Â I eat interesting, delicious food.Â I eat out at fancy restaurants such as the Candle Cafe in New York City and I can assure you, they do not serve twigs or branches.
- Vegans cannot eat chocolate or dessert. Again, I LOVE food.Â I love dessert even more.Â There are a ton of vegan chocolates including just about any brand of dark chocolate and a number of specialty chocolate brands such as Terra Nostra chocolates, Sjaaks chocolates, and Rose City Chocolatiers.Â True, Vegans do not eat “milk chocolate” but many chocolates (especially high end/gourmet chocolates) do not contain milk.Â As for desserts, I can assure you, I eat delicious desserts, either that I make at home or that I purchase from upscale vegan bakeries such as Vegan Treats.Â My sweet tooth is always satisfied!
- Vegans are terrorists. Lately there has been a lot of press about so-called animal rights activists partaking in “ecological terrorism,” “domestic terrorism,” etc.Â This has gone as far as FBI agents ‘infiltrating’ vegan potlucks to do reconnaissance.Â Puh-lease.Â I just don’t see Gweneth Paltrow, Jason Schwatzman, or Ed Begley, Jr. as terrorists.Â This particular misconception reeks of right-wing fear-mongering.
- Vegans cannot get enough protein/B12/D/etc. It is very easy to eat a well-balanced, healthy vegan diet.Â In fact, studies show that eating a vegan diet can lower cholesterol and reduce the risk for heart disease.Â The American Dietetic Association has officially stated that a vegan diet is healthy.Â Still not convinced? Check out the Vegan Food Pyramid.
These misconceptions have been the most common reactions that I have gotten from people in my own experiences.Â While of course there is always a small grain of truth hidden somewhere behind some of these stereotypes, overwhelmingly, they do not describe the vast majoity of vegans and certainly do not describe me!