Vegetarian Myths

Image for vegetarian myths article Some people think that being a vegetarian means that you will have to eat strange foods, really restrict your diet, or carefully combine foods. If you are interested in becoming a vegetarian, get the facts.

Myth One: Vegetarians Do Not Get Enough Protein

Not true. It is tough to find anyone in the United States—vegetarian or not—who is protein-deprived. Most Americans meet their daily protein needs, with many people exceeding their needs. While there is no doubt that meat is protein-packed, almost all foods contain at least small amounts of proteins. This means that just by eating a variety of foods, vegetarians get plenty.

Myth Two: It Is Difficult to Eat in a Restaurant When You are a Vegetarian

Not true. Diners are demanding more meatless menu options, and restaurants are responding. Meatless dining out is easier than ever. Even if there are not a lot of choices, with a little creativity, it is not difficult to put together a tasty meal. Most restaurants are happy to prepare items without meat. Even fast food restaurants will usually take requests for burgers ordered as "hold the meat, add extra vegetables."

Myth Three: Vegetarian Diets Take Meticulous Planning to Avoid Nutrient Deficiencies

Vegetarians, like meat eaters, should follow the pattern set out by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Guide ChooseMyPlate and eat a diet based on whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, with smaller amounts of low-fat dairy products and protein foods and limited amounts of added fats and sweets. The USDA does say that vegetarians may need to pay particular attention to protein, iron, calcium, zinc, and B12. Here are some common sources of these nutrients:
  • Protein—beans, nuts, nut butters, peas, soy products, milk products, eggs
  • Iron—iron-fortified breakfast cereals, spinach, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, turnip greens, molasses, whole wheat breads, peas, and dried fruits (apricots, prunes, raisins)
  • Calcium—fortified breakfast cereals, soy products, calcium-fortified orange juice, dark-green leafy vegetables (collard greens, turnip greens, bok choy, mustard greens), milk products
  • Zinc—beans (white beans, kidney beans, chickpeas), zinc-fortified breakfast cereals, wheat germ, pumpkin seeds, milk products
  • B12—milk products, eggs, foods fortified with B12 (breakfast cereals, soy-based beverages, veggie burgers)

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