8 Common Questions Every Plant-Based Eater is Tired of Answering

Updated: Dec 8, 2020

So, you've thought about the benefits of changing to a plant-based eating pattern. You're now embarking on a conscious effort to add more plants to your diet while eliminating or sharply cutting back on animal and heavily processed foods.

Good for you! Yet, once you tell your family and friends about this decision, get ready for all the comments and questions they have about plant based eating to roll in!

They Will Ask a Lot of Questions

After eating a plant-based diet for a while now, we've faced these questions over and over again. Mostly people are curious and want to understand why we think eating the way we do is healthier. They come away from our conversations with a little better knowledge about food and our food system, piqued with interest to learn more. Of course not all are jumping in to abandon their steaks, but more are curious to learn about how to incorporate more plants in their diets.

Even now, with all the research and science about the detrimental consequences of a diet deficient in plant food and fiber, and how harmful animal and processed foods are for both our health and the health of the planet, there is still a lot of false and old information to combat.

Many who grew up and came of age in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s are now learning that the fast food, animal protein and processed foods they relied on have caused more harm than good over time. Now, they just want to figure out how to “eat more plants”.

Here's some information to help you answer some of the most common questions you'll face about plant-based eating.

The 8 Most Common Questions About Plant-Based Eating

  1. What Is a Plant Based Diet vs. a Vegan Diet?

  2. Are You Able to Get Enough Protein On a Whole-Food Plant-Based Diet?

  3. How Do You Get Enough Vitamins and Minerals Per Day?

  4. Aren't Humans Naturally Supposed to Eat Animals?

  5. Won’t You Be Hungry All the Time Eating Mostly Plants?

  6. Isn't A Plant-Based Diet Boring, Eating Mostly Salads?

  7. Is It More Expensive to Eat Plant-Based?

  8. Can a Plant-Based Diet Help You Lose Weight?

Read on so you’re prepared with some easy answers to common questions people may have about your eating decision.

1) What Is a Plant Based Diet vs. a Vegan Diet?

A plant based diet is different than a vegan diet. A vegan diet is more about ethics and not wanting to cause any harm to animals. People have been switching to a plant-based diet for health reasons, and they don’t usually opt to stop wearing leather shoes or wool, or stop eating honey as a vegan does. They often don’t want to stop eating all animal foods or using all products made from animals. Some eventually switch to a vegan way of life, but most are motivated to reverse the trend of unhealthy eating that is so pervasive and get more whole foods on their plate.

They may already have, or be concerned about eventually getting one of the top chronic diseases like heart disease, type 2 diabetes or cancer. They may be getting older and their weight is climbing up there, so they want to reverse that trend.

The vast majority of people want to work on getting to a place where their consumption of animal foods and processed foods are just 10-20% of their caloric intake. The science shows that the more you reduce your intake of animal and processed foods, the healthier you will be. In the US right now, the majority of the people eat just 10% of their calories from plants, so it’s totally reversed from the optimal way of eating.

If people focus on adding more nutrient dense foods, make conscious decisions and build new habits, they will be in a healthier place than where they started, even if they don’t become 100% plant-based. The key is “based on plants” or “plant-based”, so the focus should be just having plants be the large majority of what you eat.

2) Are You Able to Get Enough Protein On a Whole Food Plant Based Diet?

This is the most common question. People still think that animals are the only place to get protein. They somehow haven’t stopped to think about where the animals are getting their protein….from the plants! All plants have protein; it’s why both humans and animals eat plants. Some of the biggest, strongest animals (as well as our closest relatives in the animal kingdom) get their protein from plants. Gorillas, rhinos and elephants all eat plants.

And the vast majority of plant-based eaters get more protein than they need.

Of course there are outliers in everything, but it’s not quite as difficult as most people think. And with all the marketing around getting ‘enough’ protein, people don’t realise that current dietary habits take in too much protein.

It’s not a good idea to focus so much on this one nutrient (or any other one nutrient) above all others. We only need 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight. A female weighing around 55 kg (such as yours truly) requires 44 grams of protein per day.

Good sources of protein include soy, beans, legumes, grains, nuts and seeds.

Here’s a quick list of some of the best sources of protein, with their average amount of protein per serving.

  • Hemp seeds, 1/2 cup = 25 grams of protein

  • Tempeh, 100 grams = 20 grams of protein.

  • Plant-based burger (Beyond Burger) = 20 grams of protein

  • Lentils, one cooked cup = 18 grams of protein.

  • Extra firm tofu, 100 grams = 15 grams of protein

  • Beans, one cooked cup = 15 grams of protein

  • Nutritional yeast, 2 tbsp = 9 grams of protein

  • Quinoa, one cooked cup = 8 grams of protein

  • Wild rice, one cooked cup = 7 grams of protein

  • Oats, one cooked cup = 6 grams of protein

  • The top protein-rich vegetables have around 4-5 grams of protein per cup and include artichoke, asparagus, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, potatoes, spinach and sweet potatoes.

3) How Do You Get Enough Vitamins and Minerals in A Day?

Eating a healthy, properly balanced diet not only allows plant-based eaters to get pretty much the same nutrients as omnivores, but even more.

A well-planned whole foods plant based diet actually has a higher amount of nutrients with a lower amount of calories than a traditional meat & processed foods diet.

One interesting thing about a lot of people adopting plant focused eating is that they are studying it and decide to move ahead with it because they know it’s good for their health. They are curious and motivated to learn a little about the proper way to adopt this healthy eating style. Even if they haven’t yet totally figured it out, and they don’t quite want to get into all the nitty gritty details (like the nutrition nerd yours truly) they do spend some time to learn the basics. They then get hooked because they feel and see the benefits of eating more whole food plants.

There are really only two nutrients that whole food plant-based eaters who have a thoughtfully planned eating pattern need to be aware of and they are vitamin B12 and vitamin D.

Vitamin B12 is found in animal products, but usually it gets there by supplementation to the animal. Vitamin B12 is actually a bacteria in the soil. It’s difficult for even animals to get, because of how they are fed. It also is not so prevalent in the soil as it was one hundred years ago, because of how we’ve grown crops and treated the land. It also really isn’t in our food or water anymore because of chlorination and hygiene. The bioavailability of B12 coming from animals is not very good either.

It does come in some plant-based foods like shiitake mushrooms, nutritional yeast and fortified plant-based milks. Even so, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor and supplement vitamin B12 properly.