4 Huge plant-based myths busted

1. Those following a plant-based diet struggle to get enough protein

// MYTH //

A plant-based diet that incorporates a variety of wholefoods, including nuts, seeds, lentils, legumes, peas, soy-products (e.g. tempeh), as well as wholegrains (e.g. quinoa), plus a mix of vegetables, can deliver more than enough of your protein needs (even if you're a body builder!). In addition, these plant-based protein foods are full of many other beneficial nutrients, as well as supply rich amounts of fibre.

// FACT //

Studies in Australia looking at various diets found that majority of Vegetarians easily met recommended dietary intakes (RDIs) for protein. “Most plant foods contain some protein.” The studies found that those consuming omnivore diets (animal foods and plants) commonly ate (eat) much more protein than is required.

2. Plants do not supply complete proteins

// MYTH //

It was once believed that certain plants (e.g. beans and rice) were needed to be combined and eaten together to ensure sufficient essential amino acids needs were met to complete the protein profile, however this has since to be found unnecessary.

// FACT //

Although most plant foods do not contain complete proteins, meaning they are limited by one or more of the essential amino acids to form a complete protein, research shows that if a variety of plant foods (whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, soy products and vegetables) are consumed over the course of a day and energy intake is adequate, then complete protein needs will be comfortably met.

Despite common claims, there are a few plant foods that DO contain complete proteins, including soybeans (tofu, tempeh, edamame), amaranth and quinoa.

3. If you don’t consume dairy you can’t get enough calcium

// MYTH //

Calcium is required for bone health, muscle contraction and nervous transmission. Dairy foods are a rich source of calcium, however they are not the only source of calcium. Almonds, chia seeds, tahini, asian greens, figs, tofu and fortified plant-milks (e.g. oat, soy, rice) all provide good sources of bioavailable calcium. Therefore, if adequate amounts of particular plant foods are consumed across the day, calcium needs can be easily met, without the need for dairy.

// FACT //

Without Vitamin D, our bodies cannot effectively absorb calcium. Furthermore, without adequate vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin A, magnesium and phosphorous, our bone health will be compromised. In relation, a varied, plant-based diet, can help to cover all of your nutrient needs.

4. All vegan and vegetarian foods are healthy

// MYTH / /

A vegan diet is defined by the exclusion of all foods made from animals, or those that come from animals, including meat, poultry, fish, dairy and honey. Vegetarian diets are comparable, however have flexibility around the inclusion of dairy, honey and fish. Apart from these principles, this is where the guidelines for vegan and vegetarian diets stop. And so... processed foods such as lollies, soft drinks, refined white breads and biscuits, and sugary breakfast cereals can be counted as vegan and vegetarian foods. Therefore, NOT all vegan and vegetarian foods are healthy.

// FACT //

Majority of unprocessed vegan and vegetarian foods are healthy. For example, legumes, wholegrains, nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables, are all super nutritious. Furthermore, some vegan and vegetarian processed foods are also healthy, including extra virgin olive oil, tempeh and pulse pastas.

In a nut-shell, the principles of a plant-based diet provides guidance to a very wholesome, liberalised, and nutritionally adequate style of eating.

The key is to eat a variety of real wholefoods.