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Vegetarian Myths

Vegetarian Myths

Could these be holding you back from a plant-based lifestyle?

It’s thought that 1 in 10 Americans, now identify as either vegan or vegetarian.  At Dole, we think that number could be higher, so we want to clear the air about common misunderstandings around vegetarian eating.  Go from vegetarian wanna be to vegetarian with the most nutritionally complete and satisfying diet out there. 

Myth #1:  When you go vegetarian, all you eat are carbs!

This is a common mistake, especially for the former omnivore who is accustomed to a plate that has protein at the center, surrounded by traditional carbohydrates and the occasional vegetable.  It is all too easy to just double up on the mashed potatoes and turn to cheese quesadillas or pizza – which are vegetarian and delicious but can also lead to unwanted weight gain if eaten in excess.  Instead, while eliminating the meat, be sure to add a source of satiating plant-based protein.  Think beans, lentils, chia, tofu, edamame or seitan.  These are combination foods that deliver both protein and carbs to your diet. 

Myth #2:  Going vegetarian is an easy way to lose weight!

Did you know we at Dole Food Company, wrote a weight loss guide?  It outlines everything you need to know to lose weight, like eating balanced meals and portion control, hydration and exercise, whole grains, healthy fats and sleep!  It does not however call out going exclusively vegetarian for weight loss.  That said, research suggests that a whole food, minimally processed vegetarian diet, could result in significant weight loss when done properly – but it’s not a guarantee!

Myth #3:  Vegetarian dishes lack flavor.

While you may go out to a restaurant and have a full-flavor vegan dish, results at home can vary if your cooking game isn’t strong.  Let’s take tofu for example.  It doesn’t inherently possess a lot of flavor and it requires proper cooking and seasoning in order to taste great – especially when you compare it to its animal counterparts (which also require seasoning to taste its best).  Plant-based proteins should be seasoned with salt, but techniques like breading, roasting and air frying will go a long way to contribute to mouth feel, flavor and the full eating experience. 

Myth #4:  You can’t get enough protein on a vegetarian diet. 

The truth is, it’s more than possible to get all of the essential amino acids (AA) you need FROM PLANTS!  All nine essential amino acids (EAA) are required to make a complete protein and all nine can be found in animal products.  When leaning on plant sources to meet protein requirements, it’s important to eat a variety to ensure all EAA are consumed.  (All nine typically can’t be found from plant sources).  It’s also thought vegans may benefit from consuming more plant protein to counteract its lower bioavailability.  A major nutrition benefit of plant-based protein is that they are typically higher in fiber and lower in saturated fats than their animal counterparts. 

Myth #5:   Vegetarian eating is healthy eating.  Period. 

After all, vegetarians eat salad at every meal, right?!  Just kidding.  The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics states that “appropriately planned vegetarian and vegan diets are healthful and nutritionally adequate.”  And at Dole, we believe they can be delicious too!  That said, not all vegetarian foods are healthy.  Think about cookies, chips and French fries – all vegetarian yet high in refined sugars and fats!  Top that with the food industry coming up with convenient alternatives such as veggie burgers among other meatless options that are often highly processed, laden with sodium and other preservatives.  Let us suggest trying dishes that make the transition easy – Buffalo Chickpea Wraps, Protein Packed Savory Oatmeal and Sesame Tofu Bowls just to name a few!

 Published October 1, 2022

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