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  • Protein Myths
  • Why be Vegetarian?
  • Is meat-eating natural?
  • Vegetarian Myths
  • Veg. & the Environment

  • Myths about Vegetarianism

    MYTH: "Humans were designed to eat meat."

    Fact: Human anatomy suggests otherwise. We're designed to be able to eat meat occasionally, as a survival mechanism, but our digestive systems are very similar to those of the other plant-eaters and totally unlike those of carnivores. Also, the less meat someone eats, the less their risk of just about every major disease. Finally, people who don't eat meat have better physical performance, whether they're athletes or not. The argument that humans are carnivores because we possess "canine" teeth ignores the facts that other plant-eaters have these same so-called canine teeth, and that only plant-eaters have molar teeth. [more on this topic]

    MYTH: "Vegetarians get little protein."

    Fact: Plant foods offer abundant protein. Vegetables are around 23% protein on average, beans 28%, grains 13%, and even fruit has 5.5%. For comparison, human breast milk is only 6% (designed for the time in our lives when our protein needs are as high as they'll ever be). Professional recommendations for adults range from 2.5% to 10%, and plant foods supply that easily. [more on this topic]

    MYTH: "Beans are a good source of protein."

    Fact: There is no such thing as a special "source of protein" because all foods -- even plants -- have plentiful protein. You might as well say "Food is a good source of protein". In any event, beans (28%) don't average much more protein per calorie than common vegetables (23%). [more on this topic, inc. chart]

    MYTH: "Meat protein is better than plant protein. You have to combine plant foods to make the protein just as good."

    Fact: This myth was popularized in the 1971 book Diet for a Small Planet and has no basis in fact. The author of the book admitted nearly thirty years ago that she made a mistake (in the 1982 edition of the same book). [more on this topic]

    MYTH: "Vegetable oils are healthy."

    Fact: Dr. John McDougall says: "Sadly, the myth that vegetable oil is health food isn't true… choosing between dropping some butter or pouring some olive oil into your frying pan is, nutritionally speaking, like choosing whether you want to be shot or hanged. Here's why. All fats--saturated and unsaturated--are involved in the growth of certain kinds of cancer cells. Scientific research…has consistently shown that a higher consumption of fats will produce a higher incidence of cancer. What's worse, the unsaturated fats in such highly touted vegetable oils as corn oil, safflower oil, and olive oil, and the margarines made from them, are the fats that most promote the growth of cancer. They're much better at this double-crossing deal than are the saturated fats that are so bad for your arteries and heart."

    -- The McDougall Program; 1990; John A. McDougall, M.D.; p. 41-42.

    McDougall goes on to explain that fatty foods (including vegetable oils and tofu ) kill your energy level by making your blood cells stick together in clumps, can make the skin and hair oily, and are extremely fattening.

    MYTH: "Tofu is a low-fat food."

    Fact: Tofu is 54% fat, more than many meats, and way more than the 10-20% of dietary calories from fat that most vegetarian authorities recommend. McDougall again: "[Soybeans] contain far too much fat for regular use by most people… Tofu…is even a little worse… Obviously, tofu is a rich, high-fat, low-fiber food that should be used sparingly."

    MYTH: "Milk is necessary for strong bones."

    Fact: McDougall: "Where does a cow or an elephant get the calcium needed to grow its huge bones? From plants, of course. Only plants. … People in Asia and Africa who consume no milk products after they're weaned from their mother's breast grow perfectly healthy skeletons in the normal size for their race. A consistent conclusion published in the scientific literature is clear: Calcium deficiency of dietary origin is unknown in humans. Dairy products contain large amounts of animal proteins. This excess protein removes calcium from the body by way of the kidneys. Knowing the physiological effects on calcium metabolism of eating excess protein explains why societies with the highest intakes of meat and dairy products--the United States, England, Israel, Finland, and Sweden--also show the highest rates of osteoporosis, the disease of bone-thinning."

    MYTH: "Carbs make you fat."

    Fact: Not the carbs found in fruits and vegetables. Refined carbs, like sugar and flour, can make you fat, because they're calorically dense. Fruits and veggies don't have that problem. You can lose weight even while eating copious amounts of potatoes (as I have). Dr. McDougall has run a health clinic for 25 years where his patients lose weight while eating unlimited amounts of buffet-style meals centered on starches like potatoes.

    Carbs don't make you fat, calorically-dense foods do. These include sugar, flour, oil, milk, and meat.

    MYTH: "Hitler was a vegetarian."

    Fact: No, he wasn't. Not in the traditional sense of the word, anyway. Hitler occasionally reduced his meat consumption on doctor's orders because of digestive problems, but he frequently cheated. If you want to call that vegetarianism, you might as well say that all meat-eaters are vegetarian for the eight hours they're asleep each not and not eating meat. Of course, educated people will understand that it's irrelevant that Hitler was vegetarian, but some non-vegetarians delight in repeating this myth as though they've made some sort of point. (more)


    The McDougall Program .|. Diet for a New America .|. Diet for a Small Planet


  • Why be vegetarian? Save animals, get healthy, lose weight, help the planet -- take your pick!
  • All about Protein. All vegetables have plenty of protein. Even lettuce. How do you think elephants get so big? :)
  • Is meat-eating natural?  Our bodies are optimized for eating plants, not meat. Read all about it here.
  • Vegetarian Myths.  From "plants aren't a complete protein" to "Hitler was a vegetarian", we run down all the common misconceptions here.
  • Vegetarianism and the Environment.  Meat production involves horrific amounts of water, land, energy, and pollution, compared to plant foods. Going veg. is the easiest way to lessen your impact.
  • This website is not medical advice.  While the author has tried to ensure the accuracy of the information on this site, and while he quotes many medical doctors, he is not a medical doctor himself, and this website is not medical or nutritional advice. Anyone contemplating nutritional changes should seek the counsel of a qualified health professional.

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