There are so many crazy myths about being a vegetarian.  You may want to make that transition, but are not sure.  While being a vegetarian is a healthy way to eat, many see it as off the beaten path.  Let’s clear up some of these myths.

1.  Vegetarians don’t get enough protein

This is the number 1 myth out there.  In fact, people only need 10-15% of their calories to come from protein.  Good quality protein can be found in the vegetarian diet.  Dairy, eggs, soy and quinoa are vegetarian sources of complete protein, containing all of the essential amino acids the body needs. 

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2.  Vegetarians don’t consume adequate amounts vitamins and minerals

Only vegans who do not eat any animal products need to supplement with vitamin B12.   All other types of vegetarians can adequately meet their vitamin and mineral needs through foods as long as they consume a varied diet.

3.  Vegetarians eat poultry and fish

Vegetarians do not eat animal flesh, so poultry is definitely out.  Some people who follow a vegetarian diet, but consume fish sometimes, call themselves Pesco-Vegetarians.  There are a few different categories of vegetarianism:  1) Lacto-Vegetarians consume dairy products; 2) Ovo-Vegetarians consume eggs; 3) Lacto-Ovo Vegetarians consume dairy and eggs; and 4) Vegans do not consume any animal products, not even honey.

4.  Vegetarians don’t have a lot of energy

Calories equal energy.  If you consume enough calories you will have enough energy.  Many professional athletes follow vegetarian diets.  Former football star Joe Namath and Olympian Carl Lewis are both vegetarian.

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5.  Vegetarians are too thin

This is simply not true.  Many vegetarians are within their ideal body weight, but there are some vegetarians that are overweight or underweight.  If you do not consume enough calories you will be underweight.  If you consume too many calories you will be overweight.  I always remind people that potato chips are vegetarian!

6.  Vegetarians are environmentally conscience

Some people follow a vegetarian diet because of the effects that meat production has on the environment, but many others are not aware of the impact on the planet until they have already become a vegetarian.  

7.  Vegetarians are all animal rights activists

Some animal rights activists may be vegetarian such as members of PETA, but not all vegetarians are animal rights activists.  Many people follow a vegetarian diet for the known health benefits.  Vegetarians tend to have lower rates of heart disease and cancer.

8.  Vegetarians follow a certain religious philosophy

Although some religions do adhere to a vegetarian diet such as some Hindu’s and Seventh Day Adventists, vegetarians may be Christian, Jewish or Muslim.  Vegetarians come from all different backgrounds and can be found throughout the world regardless of religion, nationality, or race.

9.  Vegetarians are all politically liberal

Vegetarians can be found on both sides of the political aisle.  The 42nd US President (democrat) Bill Clinton follows a vegetarian diet as does the publisher of Forbes magazine (republican) Rich Karlgaard.

10.  Vegetarians are just different!

Vegetarians are regular, normal people.  They live in big cities, suburbs and in rural communities.  They hold jobs as teachers, nurses, police officers, lawyers, and financial analysts. They enjoy dining out, going to the movies, and participating in sporting events.  Vegetarians are active in of our communities and productive members of our society.

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