Changes are intimidating, and deciding to dump all foods that have animal ingredients can be a daunting prospect. Doesn’t everything have some part or derivative of an animal in it …? “Is being vegan hard” is a question I often receive, and my answer is always the same: no, it isn’t.
Of course, I would say that, right? I’m vegan, after all, and my website is aimed at helping people who want to become vegan. First of all, though, there are some compelling reasons for going vegan. Following a plant-based diet or a vegan lifestyle can no longer be called a fad. I don’t know if it ever was, except perhaps for some celebrities who adopted this diet temporarily …
Isn’t Vegan Food Expensive?
I get that question a lot. I actually don’t get it as a question, but as a statement. “Vegan food is expensive, I can’t do it.” However, I very strongly disagree.
For example: although now I am doing well, years ago I went through some tough financial times. I lived on a lower salary and with high expenses. Consequently, I could not afford anything nice. I was able to only buy the bare necessities, and some days not even that. I often went to a cheap store that sold mostly cans and bags with rice, to make my money last. Throughout that time I still managed to be vegan, effortlessly.
Of course, there are concerns about eating processed food, since I bought more cans in that time than I used to; but I made the decision to go vegan for ethical reasons. I did not do it for health reasons, although the improved health is a wonderful bonus.
I did it because I witnessed unbearable animal cruelty in a slaughterhouse for months on end and it marked me for life.
It’s also a fact that when you are poor or have low finances you cannot always buy the best food, regardless whether you’re vegan or not.
So, you do not need to be wealthy or well off in order to be vegan.
It is true that some products are expensive, but not all; and the same counts for non vegan items. Some are ridiculously overpriced and others are affordable. I do not really see a big difference.
You spend less cash on medicine.
Before I was vegan, I was also blessed with good health, but I did not always escape certain ailments. When I was 21, I was so overworked that my body broke down, I spent the week in bed, could hardly eat and vomited the little food I was able to ingest. I lost over 10 kilos (20 pounds) in that week … I am already slim, so losing more than 10 kilos is disastrous for me.
That was the only time in my life I was really ill, except for the colds and flus here and there. When I went vegan, though, I noticed changes in my body.
- I felt more energetic
- I didn’t have the cold or fly every year like most of my friends and acquaintances did
- If I did get a cold or flu, I healed quickly
- My medicine cabinet holds medicine just for my dogs and cats. The only pills in there for me is aspirin which I rarely use. The dates are usually expired by the time I pick up a package 😉
Most people I know have a barrage of pills, not everybody, of course, but you know what I mean. Several people have told me about this or that pill with names that sound hard to remember, but their knowledge of tablets is so good, it shocks me. I know absolutely nothing of pills.
I am only familiar with Advil and aspirin; and I learned about dog and cat medicine, since I spent many years in animal rescue, but that is all. People’s knowledge of so many pills always baffles me, and it probably comes from leading a life where taking pills has become a daily ritual …
Ten days ago I took my dog to the vet. After the diagnosis, the vet compared my dog’s issue to a similar human condition and she described the pain, trying to make me relate. I remember her face when she said “you know what I mean, right?” and I replied, “not really …” Then I remembered an incident from a long time ago, and I said, “Ah yes, it happened to me once, but it was over within a day and it didn’t really bother me so much.” She looked at me as if I was mad 😉
(and my dog’s fine now, if anyone was wondering 😉 )
It may sound like I’m exaggerating, but I’m not. There are many accounts of people who decided to make food their medicine and who got rid of all their pill collections – and the disease – thanks to a plant-based diet.
When you think about it, saving on trips to the doctor and those pills makes following a vegan diet indeed inexpensive.
Aren’t You Missing Out?
No, we aren’t. If I had a dollar for all the times I heard that question I would be a millionaire by now 😉
A plant-based diet has always been compared to a diet where you are “giving up” which couldn’t be further from the truth. I was guilty of that belief myself when I was a teenager and in my early twenties. I was raised by a meat loving father who ate steak, lamb, duck, etc on a daily basis, plus cold meats as well – he was also ill a lot …
Because of how I was raised I used to really love meat. I loved the very rare steaks where the juice would flow out. Yep, that was me. I loved my grandmother’s blood sausages. I loved my grandfather’s homemade salami and ham. I gorged on filet mignon and duck and rabbit (In Belgium – where I’m from – rabbit is also part of the menu) without ever thinking about where my food came from.
Until one day the truth was thrown at me unexpectedly and very brutally, and I witnessed the atrocities inflicted on animals that cause many to dump their meat and choose a more compassionate lifestyle. I did not see this in undercover videos, but for real, I saw the cruelty right in front of me and I never forgot it.
As Paul McCartney once said: “If all slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian” I’d like to add, if all dairy industries had glass walls, everyone would be vegan.
I used to love meat, really love it! Nonetheless, that never stopped me from becoming vegan. I admit that I didn’t know what I was embarking on, but I was pleasantly surprised when I discovered many culinary delicacies in the vegan cuisine. I love good food, and when I realized how delicious plant-based food is, I only had one regret: why hadn’t I done this sooner?
To decide upon such a change is often based on strong reasons.
Animal cruelty, the environment, health, use of water, help feed the world and stop starvation (the western meat diet doesn’t only affect animals, but also people – 13 pounds of grain are needed to produce 1 pound of animal flesh … it would be more efficient if those grains could be fed to people directly, and consequently fewer people would go hungry – source: Peta)
So, is Nothing Hard About Being a Vegan?
Yes, there is, but it has nothing to do with “missing out” or it “being expensive”. What for me – and many others – has always been difficult was the lack of acceptance by friends and colleagues and the many challenges that were thrown at me and I did not ask for. I am not the only one, it happens to many of us. In the long run, it gets exhausting.
Now, my boss thinks of me when our school organizes a party or a lunch and they include a vegan meal, but many years ago that was not the case. I was “the one with the strange diet”, and so I always ended up eating a meal at home before going to those parties.
Words that Punch
When I was at a friend’s house or a neighbor’s (well, not in these times, but before covid) and they had people over, I usually kept quiet about being vegan to avoid any discussions I did not want, but every single time the host ended up graciously informing his/her guests “hey, Christine is vegan.”
I know that it was never done with malicious intent, but those announcements were always followed by discussions, initiated by challenges that were thrown at me. When I first became vegan I answered those trouble makers, but after a few years it became loathsome for me. I got tired of it.
I decided only to speak to people who were genuinely interested. I avoided anyone who wanted to challenge the vegan.
Whenever someone tried to prod me, I said that I would be happy to answer their questions if they would like to know more, but if they were only here to argue with me, I wasn’t interested. If you get the same challenges vociferously presented to you, often with a smug look “let’s see how she answers that”, year after year for more than 10 years, it does get tiring. I could often anticipate what was coming.
A neighbor once shoved a cold steak into my face, he thought it was “funny”.
Someone I was dating once told me – unprovoked – that “vegetarians were stupid”. Needless to say, we didn’t date much longer 😉
I often felt that the words “Christine is vegan” caused such provocations that I was always quiet about it. Well, I am running a vegan website now, lol, but at social gatherings I am always quiet about my being vegan in order to avoid any vexation.
Fortunately, I also do get a lot of genuine questions from people who are truly interested and then I am always happy to help. Many students and colleagues have come to me with questions about a vegan lifestyle, and that always warmed my heart. I always helped as much as I could. This is basically the reason why I started this website 🙂
So, yes, when you go vegan, be prepared to face some negative comments, challenges, and so on, even by family. Well, it also depends on how close you are to your family and how well you get along, but in general, many vegans complain about the lack of support from friends and family and the constant challenges that are thrown at them over and over again.
Hearing What Others Don’t
Another thing that is hard for many vegans is eating out with friends and family who still indulge in meat. Most vegans know where the meat came from, many have heard the screams of the animals and are aware how they spend their lives before they are turned into a slab of meat. A vegan doesn’t see a steak on that plate, but a fried or cooked body part of a once living being.
Vegans are well-informed about animal cruelty … as am I … 🙁
This may be hard to understand for some, but imagine your dog being treated like a cow, chicken, or pig is treated; for example, neutered with no anesthesia; tails clipped (no anesthesia); teeth filed (again, no anesthesia); being crammed together in close spaces and forced to live in their feces and urine, accompanied by hideous and untreated infections; transported in day long drives to their death, packed like sardines in a can and spending days with no food or water, many of the animals are often trampled to death; and more.
Imagine your dog or cat having to go through any of that. The way a dog or cat owner feels about injustice or harm done to their pet is exactly how a vegan feels about all the other animals that suffer for the sake of food, entertainment, research, and so on.
So, a vegan does not really see a steak or burger, he/she sees the animal it once was and knows the suffering it had to endure.
I, for example, hear the screams of the pigs I watched being slaughtered about 17 or 18 years ago. And it makes it hard for me to look at meat being displayed on plates. I don’t say anything about it, for the previously mentioned reason. I continue eating and avoid looking at the plate of my neighbor or the one in front of me.
If you’re not vegan, it is probably hard to understand this. I can imagine that some might even scoff or roll their eyes, but those are the real difficulties of being vegan. As I said, it is not the food at all. It is the lack of support and understanding from some (but not all) friends and family members, the repeated challenges that are pushed into your face, and watching our loved ones still happily participate in the cruelty that we know so well …
Throughout the years I learned how to handle the provocations. I simply ignore them or if it doesn’t stop I tell the person very clearly that I’m not interested in this sparring unless he/she has some genuine questions. I think that is the best you can do.
Amazon disclaimer: as an Amazon associate I earn a small commmission from qualifying purchases, at no extra cost to you. This helps me maintain my website 🙂