If you close your eyes and envision what a vegan looks like, you might be thinking of an individual wearing Birkenstocks and tie-dye while holding a "SAVE THE PLANET, DUDE" sign outside of a steakhouse. While the hippie might be the most common archetype for veganism, it's certainly not the only one. Vegans can come in all shapes, sizes, and ages- and some of us might even share different values or have different reasons for going vegan! But something we all have in common? We want to bust some of the most common myths about the vegan lifestyle.  Here are some of the most common statements you might hear about veganism: 

Fact or Fiction: "Vegan" and "plant-based" are synonymous.

This is one of the most common fictions within food dialect. A plant-based diet does not include animal products (i.e. dairy, meat, eggs, honey, etc.) while veganism encompasses the idea that animals should not be used for any form of exploitation (i.e. food, entertainment, or clothing). Vegans will typically avoid purchasing any products that might be connected to the exploitation of animals, so you probably won't see a vegan wearing leather shoes any time soon. In short, veganism is more of an ethical approach to living rather than just a diet.  

Fact or Fiction: All vegan food is healthy. 

Oreos? French fries? Swedish fish? Ben & Jerry's non-dairy pints? A definite (and inconvenient) fiction. Here are some more snacks you probably didn't know were vegan! 

chocolate, cream, cake, brownie, sweet, candy, pastry, cookie, vanilla, filling, Oreos, Oreo, half eaten
Anna Arteaga

Fact or Fiction: Being a vegan is expensive.

 Definitely fiction- but only if you choose the "right" kinds of food! Many people first think of Beyond Burgers and meat substitutes when they think of veganism. These foods can run for upwards of $6 a package, making them super financially unsustainable on a college budget. You can minimize your food costs by purchasing frozen produce, buying grains and legumes in bulk, and cooking foods at home rather than eating out often. I meal prep all of my food for the week at home and my grocery bills run less than $15 weekly. 

Fact or Fiction: Vegans don't eat enough protein.

A fiction, and one that is often perpetuated by the meat industry! Protein can be found in almost every food from nuts to broccoli to tofu. As a vegan, it is crucial to track protein intake to make sure you're getting enough (approximately .6g per pound of body weight) and that you're getting protein from a diversity of sources. In other words, it just means reading labels a little more carefully.  It can also mean having to get creative with how you get your protein! 

nut, walnut, sweet, meat
Torey Walsh

Fact or Fiction: Preachy vegans are the worst kind of people.

Coming from a vegan, this is a definite fact. I wish more people understood that veganism is a choice & isn't necessarily suited for every lifestyle. If you're a vegan, great! If you're not, great! 

Fact or Fiction: Vegan food is "cruelty-free".

This one is a fiction often avoided by vegans and those who don't look beyond the surface level of the food system. The production of many fruits and veggies is dependent on the exploitation of vulnerable populations of workers. In some cases, managers will withhold pay, force workers to live in sub-par living conditions (i.e. housing without clean water and/or heat), or threaten deportation if workers do not adhere to certain standards. Not only are these injustices a human rights nightmare, but they ultimately have trickle-down impacts on consumers. Knowing where your food comes from and who produces it is an important step in becoming a more informed and ethical consumer. 

Fact or Fiction: Being vegan is really hard!

This one can either be a fact or a fiction, it's all up to you! If you've eaten vegetarian or pescatarian for your whole life, veganism might be easy than quitting animal products cold turkey (or may I say, cold Tofurky?) You're also more likely to adhere to veganism if you're surrounded by a supportive community that can provide recipes and advice during your transition.