Spotlight on the Vegetarian Diet: 6 Myths That Deserve to Be Busted

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Around this time every year, at least some portion of Americans consider trying a new diet as they take on their 2014 fitness and food resolutions. Following the most indulgent time of the year, a meat-free, sugar-free, or dairy-free diet can seem appealing to some of the most mainstream eaters, and that may have something to do with their favorite jeans that no longer fit or that little black New Year’s dress that has yet to zip.

Many diets have become increasingly popular this year, including the paleo regimen and gluten-free food plan, but one that has especially pulled some to the other side recently is that of vegetarianism. The Vegetarian Times reported this year that 7.3 million Americans are now vegetarians — that means that 3.2 percent of U.S. adults follow a vegetarian-based diet.

Although a significant percentage of Americans now don’t consume meat, there is still a considerable amount of evidence that shows just how misunderstood the vegetarian diet is still. So we’re spotlighting the zero-meat regime and debunking myths that vegetarians encounter daily. Here are six misunderstandings about vegetarians that deserve to be busted.

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1. Vegetarians don’t get enough protein

This is probably the most widespread myth about vegetarianism and one that non-meat eaters regularly bring up. Meat is well known for its high protein content, but what many fail to understand is that beans, grains, nuts, and green vegetables are all full of protein, too.

Women’s Health provides the example of chickpeas, just one type of legume that is stacked with protein. A one-cup serving of chickpeas alone equals about a third of women’s daily protein requirements — 46 grams of proteins per day — and that is just one example of a food that typically frequents the meals of vegetarians. As long as non-meat eaters consume a healthy amount of fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes, then getting enough protein is typically never an issue. In fact, many Americans consume twice as much protein as they need, leading to bigger issues down the line.

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