We’ve all said it ourselves or heard it from somebody else… “I could NEVER go vegan.” I’m here to explain why you definitely CAN, and why it’ll probably be even easier and infinitely more enjoyable than you ever imagined!
Happy Monday, beautiful friends!
For today’s post I really want to talk about some obstacles that people anticipate when considering adopting a vegan lifestyle. A lot of people have reservations about a mountain of challenges they expect, and let that keep them from going vegan and improving their lives. This hesitation or worry is totally justified! It’s hard to know what such a big life change will bring when you’ve never experienced it before.
I’ve been there, too. I remember being vegetarian and saying, “I probably wouldn’t go vegan though, it just seems so extreme.” Now I literally laugh when I think about myself saying that. I love EVERYTHING about being vegan. I love that I’m not contributing to harming sweet, innocent animals, that I feel physically and mentally healthier and happier than ever, and that I’m causing a much lesser negative impact on our beautiful planet. Today I want to reassure you that the challenges you’re anticipating either won’t be a problem at all, or that you’ll be able to overcome them fairly easily. I want to be clear – this is NOT me telling you that you have to go vegan overnight, and be 100% perfect at it for the rest of your life. My point is that while going vegan can be a huge lifestyle change, it is not as challenging as you may think. It will probably bring many changes, but the longer you do it the easier it is to navigate how to handle any sticky situations you do encounter. I also need to acknowledge that I am extremely privileged in many ways, and realize that this lifestyle may not be feasible for everybody, but here I’m addressing those that can feasibly reach veganism but are nervous for a few different reasons.
First of all, I’m a huge believer that going vegan and staying vegan first begins with your personal motivation. Whether it’s for the animals, your health, the environment, or all three, it’s so important to understand and be confident in WHY you’re making this decision. I came to veganism originally for my health, and that’s still so important to me, but now I’m extremely motivated to stay vegan forever for the animals. Do your research and figure out what lights your fire of vegan passion, because that’s what will give you the energy to keep with it.
So, here are three common hurdles that may be holding you back from making the leap and going vegan. As usual, these are all my personal experiences, challenges that I once worried about or that others have asked for advice on. As a result, I can only give my personal opinion as far as how to go about responding to any challenges. But I hope that I can give you some confidence moving forward in your vegan journey!
“Eating plant-based is too expensive.”
- I’m going to keep this one short and sweet. For me, eating plant-based has been SO much cheaper than not. Think about the staple foods – potatoes, legumes, grains, fruits and vegetables. Those are literally some of the cheapest foods at the grocery store. Yes, if you’re buying fancy vegan cheeses, tons of nuts, or other pre-made meals, it will get pricey, but that’s true even if you aren’t vegan. Vegan “junk food” is typically quite expensive – but we almost never buy those things, because we eat a healthy, whole foods, plant-based diet (not to say that I never indulge, because I do and everybody should!). What I’m saying is those are special indulgences, not something you’ll be paying for on a weekly basis. Animal products may be subsidized to be cheap, but you’re literally paying to put toxins in your body and give yourself diseases down the road. You’re also paying to support killing animals. The saying is, “pay for it now, or pay for it later.” You can invest in yourself with incredibly healthy foods that taste great, or you can save that money for hospital bills down the road. Seems like an obvious choice!
“I just like the taste of meat/cheese and I couldn’t give it up.”
- This one is tricky, because it’s not somebody else’s place to tell somebody what they like or don’t like. Plus, I get that habit change can be HARD. It’s hard for most people to even begin to conceive of eating this way, especially when most of us grew up used to the standard American diet. Where to even begin?! What would you even buy at the grocery store? I’ve been there too, and I totally get that concern. This is where the transition period comes in. If you’re nervous or feeling unsure about how to tackle the food component of veganism, just take your time, and decide on your pace. If you’re an all in, extreme personality like me, it is definitely doable overnight. But if not, that is completely okay. Take it one food at a time, one meal at a time, or a day at a time. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it over and over – it is not about being perfect, but about about doing your best to do the least harm. If you aren’t sure what to eat, check out vegan youtube “What I Eat in a Day” videos. SO many great ideas there. But let’s get to the root of the excuse going on here.
- First of all, let’s start with the meat thing – think about a plain, cooked piece of meat. I should say raw, because if we were “designed” to eat meat that’s how we would take it, but that’s a conversation for another time. A plain piece of boiled chicken, or grilled beef, whatever. Nothing to dip in, rubbed on it, nothing. Do you really like how that tastes? Probably not. What you probably do like is the salt, sauces, herbs, spices, and oils with which the meat is cooked. Meat has become a socially ingrained thing, so we’re sort of brain washed into thinking that we need it at every meal, and that we are supposed to like it. Naturally though, think about closing your eyes and tasting a piece of fruit and a piece of meat. Your taste buds will perk up with the sweet fruit, and probably gag at a piece of meat.
- Speaking of taste buds – they will change SO much as your diet changes. People typically assume they’ll literally drop dead without their cheeseburgers or whatever animal products they’re hooked on, but they don’t actually try giving themselves enough time when trying new foods. If you give yourself adequate time to adjust, you will stop craving meat and animal products completely, and you’ll start to crave healthy foods. Trust me, I ate the standard American diet growing up, I loved cheese and dairy-filled sweets, and now those couldn’t sound worse to me. I seriously feel a little sick when I see others eating meat now, because I see it for what it is – an animal that wanted to live. Animal products aren’t even food to me anymore.
- I feel amazing because of the foods I eat, and I love these foods SO much. It takes time, but you will fall in love with everything your eating, plus, you’ll be discovering so many great foods you never even knew existed before. Don’t fall for the salad myth! Yes I eat salad often, but only because I like it. I also eat pancakes, all the fruit I want, tons of potatoes, etc. If you’ve checked out the recipes on this little blog, it’s obvious that I love sweets! The beauty of our modern day society is that there’s literally a way to vegan-ize EVERY food you have ever loved. And if you are struggling with the transition, there are so many products that mimic animal products so closely it’s almost scary.
- The thing a lot of people don’t get about going vegan is you actually don’t have to make any sacrifices. While there are a lot of new foods to try like nutritional yeast or lentils and such, I guarantee there are damn good vegan versions of all of your favorite dishes. You can make healthy versions of cheesecake, cookies, pizza, doughnuts, pancakes, and more, all at home, but there are also tons of amazing vegan store-bought options and restaurants depending on your area. While these typically aren’t the healthiest options, they’re definitely better for you than the animal product versions. And they taste better, too! While a healthy, whole foods, plant-based diet should be the goal, don’t worry about having some processed vegan food especially when you’re starting to transition. As I’ve said, you don’t have to be perfect in all aspects right away. The bottom line is to eat foods that you enjoy! If you like pizza, eat a freaking vegan pizza and be happy knowing you aren’t hurting animals.
“My family/friends won’t understand or be accepting.”
- This one is HUGE, and I completely understand this hesitation. There have been so many times when I was nervous or hesitant about how to approach social situations, worried about what I would say or do, whether I would have an option for food, how to not come off as rude if I didn’t want to eat something. Here’s how to tackle this one – be consistent, calm, and confident.
- When you’re consistent in your choices, people will see it’s not just a phase. It may sound difficult at first, but don’t give in and eat animal products when you’re first transitioning just because you feel awkward around others. You need to make a commitment so that it will stick, and that won’t work if you’re going back and forth with foods. Plus, others will get used to your choice and the novelty will wear off.
- When you’re calm in responding to any silly vegan jokes from others trying to get a rise out of you, people will get tired of it and move on. We live in a non-vegan world, and all too often people are just plain rude about this lifestyle choice. Some days I succeed in being the positive, happy, radiant vegan I want to be, but other days, or with specific people, I’m just OVER their bullshit and rude, snarky comments. What’s important to remember though, is that their rudeness is a reflection of their insecurity within themselves. The fact that you’ve made this change for your benefit as well as the benefits of countless animals, may cause others to feel guilt or question their own choices, which can manifest in them putting you down. My best advice after experiencing many of these situations myself is to ignore it. Stay calm and try to be positive and come from a place of compassion, even when you’re annoyed AF. People get bored when they don’t get a reaction. You can try to start a conversation if it seems like it might play out well, but if not, don’t feel like you have to awkwardly laugh and just take the jokes. Instead, politely set a firm boundary. You don’t need to be mean, but saying something like “It’s making me really uncomfortable that you’re being so rude about what I’m choosing to put in my body.” Typically people will back off, but if they don’t, just walk away and know that you’re making the best choice for you and so many others. It blows my mind that people give vegans so much shit for making the choice to be freaking compassionate. Like it’s SO extreme to not want to slaughter animals…*eye roll* Oh, and if people say it’s THEIR personal choice to eat meat, you can also politely put them in their place by saying it’s NOT considering countless animals have to be mercilessly tortured and killed because they “like the taste” of something. I’m going on way too long, I’ll need to do a separate post about how to respond to frustrating anti-vegan remarks. 🙂
- When you’re confident and educated about why you made this choice, confident in how amazing and healthy you feel, people will literally see and feel your passion and want to know more. Educate yourself with as many books, documentaries, and research as you can. This will help you be able to talk about it in an informed way with others, to help them understand your choice and to maybe motivate them to look into it as well. Regardless of the situation, always remember to communicate positively and in a loving way. Don’t get frustrated with friends or family that don’t understand your choice. Love them as they are. Everybody has their own journey, and when you communicate from a place of positivity and understanding, you’ll be better off, and so will those you encounter. You’re more likely to get somebody else to really think about why you’re doing this when you seem happy to talk about it, rather than angry or defensive. That being said, some people won’t get it, and they won’t be genuinely interested or curious, and feel free to get semi angry and tell them to fuck off (in nicer terms, of course, by setting a boundary similar to the way I mentioned above). Just do your best to keep being the consistent, calm, confident, beautiful human that you are. 🙂
- People often worry about social traditions. This was a big one for me, personally, because I love family traditions, and many revolve around food. I used to love baking cookies at Christmas with my mom, or enjoying a big thanksgiving meal with my family. I didn’t love the meat and animal products involved, but I did love the social aspect and cherished the family time. The good news is, when it comes to traditions, it’s almost always extremely easy to make them vegan. There are literally millions of vegan recipes for the food aspect, it’s almost overwhelming, but makes it so easy! You’re still a part of your family, you won’t be disowned, and you’re still living in line with your values. Another way to overcome this is to always give your family a heads up, let them know what you are or are not comfortable with, and support them in helping to tweak any traditions so that all can still enjoy them. For example, offer to help make a few vegan dishes at thanksgiving in addition to (or instead of!) the normal stuff. Don’t scream about having no vegan options – help to create some. Family and friends often WANT to be accommodating, but don’t know how and are nervous to ask. So help them! They’ll be happy to be making you happy, and you’ll be happy because you still are part of traditions, and they’re now in line with your values. The bottom line is, all humans are quite self-centered. People don’t care all that much what you eat, so don’t stress too much about it. I know it’s easier said than done, but at the end of the day, you have to stop caring what others think and worry about you! If you want to live this way to be a healthier, happier, more compassionate person, others should be cheering from the rooftops for you. And if they aren’t – who cares!
- At the end of the day, the social aspect is a big one that people worry about, and I totally get that. All I can say is that with time, it really becomes a nonissue. People get used to it, and many will genuinely want to know more and may try making changes themselves. I’m extremely blessed to have a very supportive family and friends, but I know not everybody has that. I’ll say it over and over – just stay positive and loving. People won’t attack you if you’re calm and confident in your communication. And if they do, they aren’t someone you should be hanging out with. Just like you love your non-vegan friends just as they are, they should love you the same way. Oh, and don’t always feel obligated to bring up your veganism. Especially at a meal, unless somebody asks you, you don’t have say anything. If people ask me, of course I LOVE discussing it. But if not, just do your thing and let other people do theirs. You don’t need to scream from the rooftops if you feel like it won’t be well-received. Just be you, make your own choices like the adult you are, and keep it moving.
- Ultimately, I’ve come to realize that I can’t worry about what others think of me all the time. Some people poke fun about what I eat, and I genuinely do not care anymore. Sometimes I get worked up and frankly angry as fuck, mostly for the animals’ sake. But like I’ve said, everybody has their own way of coming to this lifestyle, and I would never try to force somebody to see what I’ve seen. The bottom line with the social aspect is to always be kind, loving, and polite to others, but don’t let other people’s judgment or rudeness get to you. And while I always go with a positive, gentle approach, I do think it’s important to stand up for yourself and let people know if they really are out of line or saying something rude and hurtful. Also, there are so many amazing communities online if you need vegan friends and don’t have any near you! But anyway – your personal choice is just that – your choice. What you put in your mouth is nobody’s decision but yours. Just know in your heart that you are doing good for yourself and the animals, and even if one person doesn’t get that, at least you made them think. Know that a lot of times when people attack you about your healthy choices, it’s a projection of their insecurity or unhappiness with theirs. Which again, is why it’s important to always come from a place of love and positivity, as that’s what most of the haters really need!
You’re amazing for even thinking about doing better for yourself, the animals, and the planet. YOU CAN DO IT! I’m here rooting for you every step of the way. Hugs 🙂