10 Greatest Misconceptions About Being Vegan, Quashed

10 Greatest Misconceptions

About Being Vegan, Quashed

Photo Courtesy of Estee Raviv

I grew up in Israel and Mediterranean is part of my cooking style by default, I come from a house where food was a main subject. My father is Polish and my mother is Romanian. My mother taught me cooking within an Eastern European tradition. As a family we were fortunate to be able to travel and try flavors from around the world, a privilege I’m grateful to be able to continue today.

Estee Raviv. Photo Courtesy of Oy Vey Vegan

I wrote the cookbook Oy Vey Vegan both for those who are already using plant-based recipes and for people who want to make a positive change in their life and have a healthy diet but do not know how. I think of food as preventative medicine.

I wasn’t always a vegan chef. When I lived in Israel, I had a high-end custom jewelry business, but I was always attracted to the kitchen. Now I live with my husband and three children in Portland, Oregon. They’ve taste-tested all of the recipes in Oy Vey Vegan for me. I taught my family the value of good, healthy meals, and exposed them to as much variety as possible. Developing recipes with them is a lot of fun.

Making the change to a plant-based diet made me feel a lot better. It completely changed my life. First of all, my energy levels increased. For the first time in my life my digestive system was working as designed. People don’t like to talk about their digestive problems but it is so important to keep your body balanced. When I stopped eating dairy, my skin became so much healthier, smoother. After completing my research, I discovered for sure that dairy is what caused my acne. I want to tell the world that if you have skin problems, stop eating dairy; your skin will get better in no time.

Becoming vegan opened my eyes to a whole new, fascinating world. I learned so much about ingredients and how foods can heal.

Here are ten misconceptions people have about being vegan.

1. Eating vegan food is not satisfying or filling.

If you eat whole grains, a vegan diet is very filling. Eating enough plant-based protein such as tempeh, tofu, and legumes combined with vegetables will leave you satisfied.

2. Vegans don’t get enough calcium in their diet because they don’t drink cow milk.

The truth is that calcium exists in larger amounts in a lot of the green veggies—such as broccoli, bok choy, kale, collard greens, okra—and also in almonds, black beans, and many other plants, than in cow milk

3. Vegans don’t eat enough protein because protein comes mainly from meat.

The truth is that there are high levels of protein in soybeans, and soy products, such as tempeh and tofu. You can also find high levels of protein in black lentils, nuts, peanut butter, and, in general, all the legumes.

4. Vegans don’t get enough iron.

Vegans can eat a lot of iron in high levels, which exists in spinach, parsley, and raisins. Sometimes iron will not absorb in the body like with animal products and therefore vegans need to take supplements. However, if you combine iron with citrus it will help absorption in your body.

5. Vegan food is expensive.

I always say that vegan food is not only cheaper, but if you invest in fruits and vegetables, you may not need to spend so much money in the future on medicine. Being mindful about what you eat may prevent sicknesses in the future. Preventative medicine is definitely the future.

6. Vegans eat only lettuce and seeds.

Vegan food can be so versatile, rich and complex, much more so than just eating meat and potatoes.

7. Vegans are weak.

There are marathon runners and weightlifters that eat a plant-based diet. If you eat a healthy whole grain diet; there is no reason to be weak. You can eat vegan and eat really unhealthy. If you eat chips and salsa all day, cookies, and sugar, and vegan processed food, it might bring you down. Eating a healthy plant-based diet is key.

8. Only hippies are vegans.

Vegans can be anyone who thinks that this is the best way for them to live, for different reasons: animal rights, health benefits, allergies, etc. Do I look like a hippie?

9. A vegan lifestyle is hard to keep.

The truth is that being vegan is a state of mind, and it’s not hard at all. Like any other diet, planning your meals will help you eat the right things. Plan your meals in the beginning of your week. Being prepared ahead of time is key. Making tempeh instead of chicken, takes the same amount of time and effort.

10. Vegans get sick a lot more.

When you eat vegan food and your body is balanced, your immune system gets stronger and you don’t get sick as often—or definitely not more than meat eaters. Studies show that eating a plant-based diet can help prevent major cancers and disease. Don’t wait to be sick to change your diet.

Oy vey can be translated to “Oh no!” Too many people shy away from vegan foods because they think of them as bland or difficult to make. Having a plant-based diet can be easy and incredibly rewarding and it can do wonders for one’s health. I want people to feel good about themselves and reflect that positive outlook on the world. So I became a chef. My wish is to teach others that you shouldn’t be afraid to try new things and explore in the kitchen. I want to give my students a culinary fearlessness.

Eat whole foods, grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts—everything that is close to its original form. Also, try to eliminate processed food completely. When you start reading the ingredients on any package that you get in the store, you’ll be surprised by the amount of preservatives, chemicals, and oils that they contain, and all kinds of things that you can’t even pronounce. If you can’t pronounce them, don’t eat them—they are possibly not good for you. Most of the recipes in Oy Vey Vegan are gluten-free, and the few that aren’t can be modified easily.

It is a lot easier than you think to eat plant-based food from scratch. For new vegans, I recommend my roasted vegetable quinoa-crust pizza. It is great for dinner It includes a balanced meal—quinoa protein, good oils, colorful vegetables. It is filling, delicious, and healthy. Pizza doesn’t need to have cheese. All of my patties are great additions to any salad or side dish. I have a large section of patties and they are all good choices to start with.

Being a cookbook author, food blogger, and chef is a lot of work. I do all my own food photography. I teach cooking classes, and am a public speaker. I’m a regular guest on the most popular morning show in Oregon, AMNorthwest on KATU (channel 2), doing vegan cooking segments. I believe that preventative medicine is the future, and it’s never too late to make the change. It is my dream to spread the love for healthy, creative food through my own cooking show one day.

Estee Raviv

Estee was born in Israel. She grew up on the sandy shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Her love of cooking and healthy food has been inspired by a life filled with art, travel and a world of cultures and experiences.

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