Have you ever noticed that some people don't stick with veganism for more than a few months, even if they appear to be 100% on-board with the idea?
I'm sure we all know at least one person like this... I certainly know a few... and I'm sure that some people reading this will BE one of those people...
Check out the following Top 5 Reasons Why People Give Up Veganism and see if you can relate to any of them, odds are if you or anyone you know "fell of the wagon" then they fit into one of the following five categories.
REASON 1: Health Issues
As the Ex-Vegan Encyclopedia made clear - it would appear that the main reason people leave veganism behind is due to their health issues.
However, whether the underlying reason for these health issues is actually due to the absence of animal products in their diet is rarely, if ever, questioned.
The absence of animal products is so strongly associated with reduced rates of chronic disease that veganism often gets the public image of a "clean, healthy diet" but the truth is... it's not...
I mean, it certainly can be... as it DOES prevent chronic disease... but it is not guaranteed to be...
Because veganism is not a diet, and certainly not the universal panacea that some people make it out to be.
Veganism is a philosophical position that has dietary implications.
Vegans can still get all the diseases killing meat-eaters in record numbers if they choose to eat unhealthy vegan products, and it's not going to fix every single health problem you might be experiencing.
That is an unrealistic expectation that some people go into it with that is bound to leave them disappointed and talking badly of veganism thereafter.
Lots of sick people come to veganism looking for relief because a healthy vegan diet CAN prevent, arrest and reverse some of the most deadly diseases currently plaguing humanity (and lots of less deadly ones), but of course, not everyone gets relief from their all problems just by not eating animals.
The people who expect this end up becoming the embittered ex-vegans who make videos and write blog posts about their negative experience and why they are "not vegan anymore" because "veganism doesn't work."
Remember, the point of veganism is to reduce exploitation and suffering of animals, NOT cure your gut issues. While a healthy vegan diet can help to prevent the leading causes of death, that is just a side effect of the main motive, which is to treat non-human animals with respect not to kill them unnecessarily.
REASON 2: Social Pressure
Being in any minority group is going to come with some level of social pressure, and choosing to live your life without exploiting animals, like less than 5% of the world does right now, is no exception to this.
You have to be prepared for questions from family, friends and (sometimes) complete strangers regarding your choice to be vegan. If you are not somewhat prepared for these encounters with curious non-vegans, their confusion can come across as attacks on your way of life and make this beautiful new thing you're doing seem very negative.
It's my experience, and that of other vegans I know, that these questions are very rarely malicious in nature, but they can feel very overwhelming and easily create uncomfortable social pressure for you, especially if you are new to being in a minority like this.
An easy way to avoid this discomfort is to preempt it by sitting down and explaining your decision to your friends and family. Tell them very clearly what you are doing and why you are doing it, and honestly answer any of their questions they have. Which first means you need that reason clearly defined in your own mind...
A huge part of relieving the social pressure in the long term is befriending other vegans and entering a social circle where it is the norm to avoid harming animals unnecessarily. By surrounding yourself with other vegans, it will normalise what can otherwise be quite an alien experience. This doesn't have to be anything more than one veg-meetup per week to have a
REASON 3: Habit / Convenience
It's obviously so much easier to just continue to buy the foods and lifestyle products you have been buying your whole life than to change most of them... It takes time out of your day to research new products, find them at the store and read the labels on anything else you're curious about, and the idea of going shopping as a new vegan can seem daunting to some people.
But in reality, if you know what ingredients to look out for, it takes less than 30 seconds to read the label on each package to see if it contains animal products, and you really only need to read each package once, because we tend to buy things we like over and over again. There a many facebook groups that can help out with this, as well as any web pages and apps that list all the ingredients to look out for.
The easiest way to avoid checking labels though is to just buy food without a label... buy whole plant foods. Just fill up your bags with fresh fruit and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes. These foods are some of the cheapest foods available anywhere, whether you're vegan or not, all year round, and a diet composed entirely of whole plant foods is exactly what gives veganism its reputation as a healthy, disease-combative way to eat.
Whatever you choose to do, if you shop once a week, after about a month or two you will have a steady set of new vegan products to buy and shopping will be as easy as it ever was.
REASON 4: Cravings / Taste
Giving up animal products - what most likely constituted a major part of all your meals - can understandably come along with cravings for some people. And if you've been eating these things three times a day for your whole life, it's not really surprising you might crave them!
For some of us, these cravings get so out of hand that we seem to forget that we care about animal rights and go back to eating them...
What most people don't realise is that these cravings happen mainly at the beginning of your "vegan journey" and usually fade away to a distant memory after only a few months.
Transitioning to veganism slowly, over the course of a couple months, will do wonders to ease your "cravings" for the foods you used to eat. It will give your body time to adjust to the new foods you are eating and make things easier in the short term, thereby giving you maximum chance of sticking with veganism in the long term and having the best impact possible for the animals.
This is just one reason why I advocate for some people to do a well planned slow transition to veganism in Irreversibly Vegan.
Other things you can do to help ease cravings:
- If possible, don't eat with people who are eating animals. Instead, try inviting your friends and family to a vegan restaurant with you.
- Throw out your animal-based food from home and replace it with vegan food. Easier than resisting temptations is to not to even have them.
- Eat enough food so you are full! Being hungry due to not filling up makes it so much easier to "give in" to cravings. So fill up at every meal!
REASON 5: Forgetting about the Animals
You'll notice that NONE of the above points
I wrote Irreversibly Vegan, a straightforward going-vegan eBook, with people who can relate to the above points in mind. Well, that's how it started out... It quickly grew into a full-length work that serves to inspire the veg-curious to make the shift to veganism and effortlessly stay there for life.
Unfortunately, for some people, going vegan isn't as simple as changing the foods you eat, it comes with the baggage of what I have already covered above, and a lot more. That's why I made sure Irreversibly Vegan gives you everything you need to know to go about your vegan journey in the most effective way possible - and zero excuses left as to why you would ever want to support animal exploitation again, with all the latest unbiased science to back it up.
Some other things new vegans often ask...
"How do I know I am going to be getting all the nutrients my body needs?"
"Is veganism really the most ethical way to live?"
"Isn't veganism expensive?"
"How do I answer XYZ question from my friends or family?"
"Can I stay vegan even while travelling?"
And a lot more.
I will answer those, and more, in the next post.