When someone decides to change their diet or lifestyle, the same questions always arise. How will I do it? Will it work? How will my body react? Where will I get my protein, calcium, etc? The last question is usually asked when someone goes vegan, but in fact that question does not really need to be asked, because there is plenty of healthy protein in plants. So is calcium. So, then what’s difficult about being vegan?
That One Question
One question that is never asked when you go vegan, is this one “how will my friends and family react?” That question never even occurred to me when I decided to begin a vegan lifestyle. I did not think that it would affect my relationship with them much. I just started eating plant-based food and focused on buying cruelty-free (and/or vegan) household products, cosmetics, and so on.
What’s Not Difficult?
But holy moly, that change in my life brought on many reactions I had not expected, even within my family. That is one thing no one ever tells you about. The difficult thing about being vegan is:
- Not the food, because it is wonderful.
- Is it the “missing out” on some foods? Nope, my only regret is that I didn’t discover vegan food sooner. There are also many yummy meat replacements, vegan sausages, and what-have-you if you still want to munch on those from time to time.
- Not the lack of protein, because there is enough plant-based protein.
- Not the lack of calcium, because there is plant-based calcium.
- Certainly no lack of vitamins, and even B12 can be obtained in nutritional yeast, fortified plant-based milks, and supplements.
What is Difficult?
There are two things that I consider hard about being vegan and it has nothing to do with our lifestyle, but with people’s reactions.
1. The Comments and the Challenges
When people go on a diet they are usually congratulated. While even keto and paleo diets are sometimes criticized, no diet or lifestyle has ever been as ridiculed as the vegan one. That is, unfortunately, a fact.
First, when I was vegetarian I did not get so many comments, with some exceptions. I was also criticized, but it happened less frequently. When I decided to go vegan, though, everything changed.
Suddenly, friends of mine started laughing at me or making derogatory comments, because I was “crazy”, or others would say to friends “Christine just loves animals so much”, in that patronizing tone as if I was not even present.
When I was invited to a barbecue or dinner I mentioned that I was vegan, only to avoid having a slab of meat on my plate, but that comment was always met by laughter and the usual “I’ll give you a salad.” That always made me wonder. Why would I change my diet to eating just salads? I hated most salads.
Besides, I love good food.
The Protein Issue?
For years, I was bombarded with the same questions, over and over. “Where do you get your protein?” “You’re missing out!” or I would get that extremely unlikely scenario thrown at me, “What would you do if you were stuck on a desert island with a pig and you had nothing to eat?” After a few years, I got tired of the endless repetition of the same questions and challenges. I stopped answering. I only replied to people who were genuinely interested in finding out more, but I started ignoring the ones who were out to provoke me.
It took me a while before I realized that in the very remote event that I would be stuck on a desert island with a pig, I would simply follow the pig and eat what he or she eats. There, riddle solved. 😉
The Veganator, Part 20
Then there were the ferocious arguers who slammed me with the “only two options” scenarios. If I were in an earthquake and I could save a human or my dog, which one would I save? And I could only pick one!
I always answered that I would do everything in my power to save both of them, probably risking my own safety, but no no, I had to pick one, lol. The other thing is that although Hollywood produces some movies about real life events, we are not living in a Hollywood action movie, Arnold Schwarzenegger is not going to appear and terminate the alien who is after the vegans.
Well, if I could really choose, I wouldn’t mind Hugh Jackman coming to the rescue, swoop me, the other human, and the dog away and save us from the earthquake. Now, that would be something I would be willing to discuss.
The Funny Ones
Anyway, jokes aside, it got really tiring having to put up with the same questions and comments over and over again, usually in a challenging tone of voice; tired of being told that I “had my own agenda”. I got tired of the “jokers” who poked chicken legs at me and said in this sing-song voice “chicken chicken”. I did not see the humor.
I was not happy when my neighbor – entirely unprovoked – pushed a raw steak into my face and proudly told me that he was having that for dinner. I left the house immediately.
It got to a point where I avoided telling people that I was vegan altogether, just not to hear the comments or get those fantastic scenarios, or whatever challenge anyone could think up. It felt as if the fact that I was vegan gave everyone the excuse to test me. I did not mind it for a few days, not even for weeks, or months, but after years, even more than a decade, I was sick of it.
So, that is the most difficult thing about being vegan, in my opinion. One of the hardest things.
2. Watching Friends and Family Still Consume Animal Products
The other thing that is hard to stomach is watching your friends and family still consume products that come from extreme animal cruelty.
For someone like me who watched animal slaughter for real (not on video) for months on end, who can still hear the screams and feel the animals’ terror, who remembers individual animals that fought to stay alive, I never saw a steak or rib eye or whatever else on a dinner plate at friends or family dinners. I saw part of the animal on that plate and I heard the screams. Every single time. I never said a word about it, but I just sat there, hearing those screams.
All that being said, I do not want to put you off of going vegan. In the end, people who really care about you will accept you for who you are and the choices you make. That is something I also learned during my vegan journey.
So Many Wonderful Changes
- One thing that is different now than it was over ten years ago (when I went vegan), now there is much more information available, and even scientists are backing up the benefits of the vegan diet. Many books with information and a plethora of cookbooks are available.
- The cruelties of the meat and dairy industries are exposed to the world. The vegan movement is rising, there are vegan hotels, restaurants, cruise ships, even vegan cities; and nowadays people’s reactions are a lot more positive than what they used to be. I get more interest and even congratulations. So, that is a beautiful change.
- And veganism is now a human right. Yes! Maybe you wonder why it had to become a human right. This came about due to discrimination against vegans at workplaces and other public events; in some cases even persecution. So, the fact that being vegan is now accepted as a human right is a huge step forward.
You may be thinking, though, “yeah, but there are a lot of annoying vegans.”
OK, We Got a Few Bad Apples Too …
Yes, of course there are. Every group has irritating and loud members who make the rest of the group look bad. I have also met annoying vegans online, and I was not keen on dealing with them either.
Are some vegans aggressive? Oh yes! I can’t deny that. You should understand, though, where they are coming from. Most vegans have been exposed to extreme animal cruelty and suffering. I have seen countless animals die horrific deaths, so many, I can’t even give you a number. I saw that as a volunteer in animal rescue and in those slaughterhouses.
Many of us know about the horrors that are done to obtain a meal that is swallowed in two minutes; and seeing others still participate in this terror may cause fury.
I do not justify that anger. I believe that nothing is obtained by wagging your finger and scolding others. On the contrary, it will drive people away from your cause; and I think that many vegans make the mistake of accusing non-vegans, feeling rage at the cruelties that are still paid for. But when you accuse, you are not helping, you are simply accusing and angering others, and in the end those vegans only damage their own cause.
It is understandable, however. I am guilty of having felt that anger too, but anger never solves anything. I admire vegan activists who go out on the street and fight to change the world, make the world more compassionate. I will never speak against them.
I am, however, against the so called “vegan police” who are out to criticize everyone and where even other vegans can’t do anything right. Those that are often referred to as “holier than thou”, the ones who are loud, very irritating, and who unfortunately tag the rest of us with their behavior.
Honestly, most vegans are quiet and go about their lifestyle unobtrusively. The small group of finger-pointing ones have tarnished that quiet image and believe me, we vegans find them just as annoying as non-vegans do.
I think that many forget that they once also started that journey and therefore should have more patience and understanding.
It’s Your Life. Live it For Yourself.
So, there you go. This may be quite a serious piece of text today, but if you’re worried about plant-based food being difficult to make or eat, rest assured, that it is one of the easiest parts. Replacing certain ingredients may seem daunting at first, but there are plenty of vegan recipes available that will help you create yummy lasagnas, pizzas, casseroles, pies, cakes, ice cream, and much more. My website also has a lot of information about items in a vegan pantry, and other useful things.
As for people’s comments, that will always happen; we learn how to deal with them, and we learn how to pick our immediate friends. It is, after all, your life, and we live it for ourselves, not to please others. Sometimes, when we make choices that are considered “difficult” or even hard to accept or support by others, that is when we find out who our true friends are.