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3 Vegetarian Myths Put to the Test

Take your vegetarian knowledge to task, and discover the truth behind three common vegetarian myths.

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A Raw Vegetarian Diet Can Cure Cancer

Jury’s Out: There’s no quick cure for cancer once it has taken hold, but “an estimated 30 to 35 per cent of cancers are attributed to diet,” says Brenda Davis, co-author of the healthy-eating guide Becoming Raw, and a registered dietitian in Kelowna, B.C. She notes, “Plant foods are loaded with substances that block the cancer process and reduce damage to cells,” and consuming vegetables, particularly in their raw state, has been linked to a lower risk of developing the disease.

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You Can’t Build Muscle Without Meat

Myth: Meat is calorie-dense, so to get the same amount of energy from plants, you need to eat a greater volume of them. That said, eating whole foods plants is less demanding of the digestive system; some of the energy you’ve conserved can be redirected to muscle recovery. This means you can train more intensively on a plant-based diet, says Canadian tri-athlete and vegan Brendan Brazier, author of Whole Foods to Thrive.

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Cutting Meat From Your Diet Helps the Planet

Jury’s Out: The production of meat and dairy products does create a higher carbon footprint than the cultivation of plant crops, notes Mike Berners-Lee in his book How Bad are Bananas? But the real issue is industrial farming practices, writes organic farmer Joel Salatin in Folks, This Ain’t Normal. Salatin argues that farm animals, when treated humanely, are vital to agriculture. The manure dispersed by grazing livestock in fields that will later be sown with grain and vegetable crops keeps soil healthy and fertile.