Becoming a vegan is a huge lifestyle shift. You don't just transform the way you eat, but you also change everything that you buy and wear, and even where you socialize. I didn't become vegan for animal rights or activist reasons. I became vegan because I was obese and had high-blood pressure, high cholesterol, and was pre-diabetic.
I found that this eating plan worked for me; since switching to a plant-based diet, I have lost over 200 pounds, received a clean bill of health from my doctor, and no longer take any prescription medications.
While I used to enjoy a good juicy burger or a slice of bacon, I enjoy being vegan for many reasons — it's put me back in touch with food, it's helped me with my previously diagnosed chronic diseases, and it's allowed me to find new friends who share my interests.
However, there are 7 things that I really hate about being vegan. Here they are:
1. I'm not invited anymore.
Before I was vegan, I used to be invited to weekend parties, holiday celebrations, and barbecues. Since going vegan, however, invitations to events are more rare. At least one friend told me why I was no longer invited: his wife felt bad that there wasn't anything for me to eat and that I might have felt uncomfortable with their pre-made selections.
To get around this, I host vegan potluck parties and allow my omnivore friends to experience delicious barbecuing beyond hot dogs and hamburgers.
2. Honestly, it's challenging to dine out.
I'm surprised that, given how many people have dietary restrictions and allergies, that I always need to explain my needs to the chef. No chef, I cannot eat honey. And no, I don't eat fish. My strategy when dining out is to stick to Asian and Mediterranean-style restaurants — places where vegetarian and vegan dishes are not the exception, but the norm.
Speaking of fish …
3. It's tiring to have to explain that seafood is not vegan.
Just because your aunt or co-worker calls herself a vegan and eats fish doesn't mean she's the authority on veganism. Trying to inform someone that eating fish technically makes someone a pescetarian is painful and almost always ineffective.
I've found it best to ignore those who really don't want to learn about the different types of vegetarianism and spend time educating those who do.
4. When people find out I'm vegan, all of a sudden, everyone is a nutritionist.
It always happens ... As soon as someone finds out that I'm vegan, the first question they ask is how do I get enough protein. Like all of the sudden they're a nutritionist concerned about my long-term health. I get enough protein because I eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.
I understand that your daughter might have gone vegan for a few months because it was the "in" thing to do at school and her doctor told her that she needed to eat meat because her protein levels were all screwed up; however my diet is not your niece's.
5. Inevitably, people ask me how desperate I'd have to be to eat meat.
After the protein interrogation, I almost inevitably get questions like, "What if you were stranded on an island with nothing but you and a cow, what would you do?" I never understood the point. The chances of my ever being in such a situation are so remote. Also, nothing good that can come from a question like this. (After all, if I am starving and it's a life and death decision to eat the cow, do I really have a choice?)
Unfortunately, there is no good solution to this situation and I typically reply with, "That's a good question, I'd have to think about that as I've never been in such a situation before." This tends to disarm any further conversation on the topic.
6. Other vegans judge me for not being vegan enough.
While I have compassion for animals and I make conscious decisions on what products I buy and wear, I didn't adopt this lifestyle for animal rights reasons. Going vegan is what worked for my health, so I keep with it.
I hate when other vegans criticize my passion for eating to improve health and the fact that I'm not into animal rights. I've literally been accused of not being a true vegan. I don't judge you for your choices, please don't judge me for saying I'll pass on the leafleting. The only way I've found to handle this is to find social groups that are open-minded and to stop attending those groups that aren't.
7. I get told how extreme I am.
After my doctor told me I no longer needed certain medications and that (for the first time in my life) I had a "clean bill of health," I felt rejuvenated and happy that all the time and effort I'd invested to become vegan paid off. When people hear my personal story about where my health was and where it is today, I usually hear how "extreme" it is for me to go vegan when there are modern medicine alternatives that can help.
It puzzles me that cutting four animals from my diet is considered "extreme," yet getting open heart surgery or taking a statin drug for the rest of my life is not. Have we really got to the point where enjoying a slice of bacon is worth your life? I'm sorry, I value my health more than a cheeseburger with fries.
To be fair, not all people treat me like an outcast.
I know not everyone understands my choices, so I try not to preach, lecture, or insist that veganism is for everyone. And some people are supportive or genuinely curious, which I appreciate. (Though I still have to explain to my father that I didn't join a religious cult!) Many want to know how I handle vacations, holidays, and weekend getaways where I can't control my environment. I like sharing solutions that have worked for me.
And I don't want to leave you with the sense that everyone is unhelpful around this lifestyle! I'm grateful to all the friends who are open-minded, all the chefs who've incorporated vegan options on their menus, all the people who care to learn, and finally all the people who are non-judgemental and spend the time to read this post and share it with their friends, whether they are vegan or not.