We often get asked why people choose to live a vegan lifestyle. And that gets me thinking about the opposite – why DON’T more people go vegan? The world is becoming increasingly plant-based but there are many different choices: flexitarian, vegetarian and vegan to name a few of the more popular choices. And with good reason… Just look at that delicious zucchini pizza bars recipe in the photo above… Plant-based foods have come a long way!
There’s a lot of people out there who want to go plant-based, whether it’s vegetarian or vegan. But for some reason they never do. By now, I’ve heard nearly every reason why people THINK they can’t go vegan.
“How do I go vegan?” is actually the most common question I receive here at Biogains – by far. And we always respond with this question… “Why aren’t you vegan right now?”
Simply put, going vegan is a choice. You “go vegan” simply by choosing to eat vegan-friendly meals. Sure, it may take a bit more effort to learn what meals are vegan – especially when you first start to consume a vegan diet. But anyone who wants to go vegan, can go vegan.
Often times, the people who ask questions like “how to go vegan” are looking for justification as to why they haven’t gone vegan. And trust me here… I recognize that going vegan or plant-based CAN be difficult and it CAN take time. That’s okay – it’s a big change to make and a change that isn’t likely to be made overnight.
I’ve put together this compilation of common reasons people don’t go vegan. My hope is that people who may find themselves on the fence about going plant-based but justifying their decision not to for one of these reasons will know that they’re not alone. I hope those people will also know that they definitely aren’t alone. And finally, maybe just maybe they’ll give a plant-based diet a chance.
1. Going vegan will be too difficult
In the western world, some people still look at veganism as an extreme diet. Consuming animal products is the normal way of life – thus choosing the do the opposite must be abnormal, right? That’s what people think.
Heck, even I used to think this way – so I definitely understand the logic. I grew up in the typical middle-class American home. One that consisted of meals containing animals or animal by-products for nearly every meal. Like most of you, I grew up believing eating animals was normal, and never really thought anything of it. That is, until I became a bit older and independent and learned about the practices of animal farming which led me to making a change in my mid-twenties – first to a flexitarian diet and then to a fully-vegan diet.
This was the most difficult part of going from consuming a diet that was high in animal food sources: Knowing what foods to eat (and what foods to keep on hand) that were vegan-friendly. Before I figured out what was vegan though some trial and error, I just felt lost. I wasn’t surrounded by plant-based foods so I often fell to the temptation of fast foods or microwavable meals. It took a while to deprogram myself from that way of life. Once I understood what plant-based foods were important to keep in the pantry AND how to meal plan, it was very easy for me to go vegan.
2. Eating animals is part of my culture
I think it’s fair to say that most of us become a product of the environment in which we’re raised. Those early developmental years – when we can’t make decisions for ourselves – are huge.
Cultures are different around the world. Some cultures are mostly or completely plant-based while others are very high in animal consumption. I would guess that most cultures in the world consume some amount of meat, dairy or eggs. Here in America, almost every kid grows up on an animal-based diet. The same can be said for most Asian and European countries.
Sometimes, people who go vegan find it difficult to overcome the social influence of their friends and family. And sometimes they even feel like they might be, or have been, ostracized from those closest to them.
Personally, I find it insane that the people closest to someone wouldn’t support them on a personal decision like changing their diet. Our diet choice shouldn’t be a determining factor in who we associate with or how we treat people, right? That’s my belief and I think I’m in the majority with it. But I also realize that I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by people who support my choices and unfortunately, that’s not always the case for everyone.
3. I’ll be left out of social situations if I’m vegan
I touched on this above, but it I’ll go a bit deeper here. Often times, people considering a plant-based lifestyle are crippled by the fear that their social life will be affected. More pointedly, they fear that they’ll be left out of social situations.
It’s understandable – when you go vegan, nearly every social occasion will change. From your everyday work life to special occasions like birthdays and weddings. Being vegan around meat-eaters can lead to an isolated feeling. And, if you’re a person who doesn’t like to ruffle feathers, the fear of being different can potentially be crippling.
But have no fear – there are ways to make being a vegan amongst meat eaters easy. Here are a few of my favorite things to do to avoid awkwardness or feeling different.
Eat before you go – If you’re going to a special occasion or even just out with friends, it’s always a good idea to eat before you go (especially if you’re not sure where you’re going or what’s being served). This will ensure that you won’t go unfed and it won’t force you into any awkward situations if you fear being labeled “the vegan”.
Meal prep ahead of time – It’s always a good idea to have a grab-and-go meal or two in the fridge. This way, you’re never caught off guard and you can go anywhere without fear. This could potentially be awkward – depending on where you’re going. But it’s the perfect choice if you’re going to a friend of family members house.
Be the host – Perhaps the easiest way to ensure you’ll be included in social situations AND have vegan-friendly food options is to play host. Decide what’s on the menu… And you’ll probably introduce your friends and family to some tasty plant-based meals they didn’t even know existed – like this recipe or this recipe.
Take the bull by the horns – Familiarize yourself with the best restaurants in your area that have plant-based options and speak up when it’s time to go out. Tell your friends or family where you’d like to meet up or grab a meal. Going somewhere with plant-based options is easy if you speak up.
4. Vegan diets lack vitamins and minerals
For some reason, there is a big misconception out there that vegans are malnourished. A lot of people seem to think vegans don’t receive the proper amount of vitamins and minerals in their diet. And well, this just isn’t true. News flash! Vegans can and do get the proper amounts of nutrients. Plant-based diets contain calcium, iron, magnesium, protein, omegas and much, much more – just like animal-based diets.
Large agricultural businesses put a lot of time, effort and money into telling us why we should eat animals. It’s not much of a shock that these businesses would want to tell us why we should eat animals, right?
A large part of why we created Biogains is to help plant-eaters know EXACTLY what they’re putting in their bodies. We want to dispel the nonsense belief that plant-based diets lack vitamins and minerals.
5. I buy organic or humanely sourced animal products
I will admit that I personally believe eating well-treated animals that are usually locally sourced is slightly better than eating the animals found at most large grocery stores. But even if these animals are treated comparatively better – they’re still mistreated and slaughtered. They ultimately suffer the same tragic fate as the animals on large factory farms.
All animals that are raised for meat are eventually slaughtered. And I don’t think there’s anyone in the world that can give a good justification as to why we unnecessarily slaughter all of these animals.
There’s a lot of research and several documentaries that outline the trauma that animals undergo when being slaughtered. Most of us recognize that animals are living beings with functioning brains, the ability to feel pain and feel the full variety of emotions that humans experience.
At the end of the day, there really isn’t any animal product that is humanly farmed. There are only varying levels on inhumanely farmed animals.
6. Animals would overtake the world if we didn’t eat them
This one is really something to think about. If the entire world went vegan today, what would happen to all of the animals. There would be way too many animals roaming the earth, right?
First, I think we can safely assume that there isn’t any chance that the entire world ever goes completely vegan. Much less all at the same time.
But the truth is that we’re breading more and more humans every year – worldwide the population continues to climb. As a result, more and more animals are being farmed to feed those humans. And more and more trees are being chopped down to open more land for animals to be farmed. Many smaller farmers are failing to keep up with the demand that we’ve created which is leading to an increase in factory farming.
Factory farming is essential, as long as we live on a planet where a majority of the planet eats meat. With as much meat as humans consume, there would be no way for small farmers to keep up with demand. Factory farming is the only way to sustain the world’s current diet situation.
With that said, if the world were to go more plant-based and reduce the amount of animal products we consumed, factory farming would become less and less essential to maintain our dietary needs.
7. I simply can’t stop eating meat – it tastes too good
I don’t know what the average person thinks when they hear something like “plant-based meal”. But, believe it or not, plant-based meals have come a long way over the years. There are even some REALLY good plant-based “meats” on the market now. But I know I’m not going to change anyone’s mind or convince them that plant-based meals taste good with a blog post. All I can say is that give a plant-based meal a try and see for yourself what it tastes like!
Here are a few of my favorite recipes that I would recommend trying. Please let me know what you think. If you haven’t had a plant-based meal, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised… Plant-based meals taste good too!
8. A plant-based diet is too expensive for me
Approximately $38 billion are spent to subsidize the meat and dairy industries in America every year. Comparatively, only around $17 million is spent to subsidize the plant-based industry. This is in large part what causes meat to be priced lower than it otherwise would be. If plants were subsidized at the same rate as meats, eating a plant-based diet would be extremely cheap.
But we don’t live in a world where the American government has elected to heavily embrace and subsidize plants (yet). As of today, the government plays a large role in deciding what people eat just by controlling prices.
I would challenge anyone to go plant-based for one week – just give it a shot. Plan your meals and get your produce at a local farmers market (if possible). Pick up your legumes, beans, nuts, seeds, grains and/or proteins from the grocery store and then take a look at just how expensive it is to be plant based. I think you’ll be surprised at how much it costs (or doesn’t cost) to actually go vegan.
Shopping with meals in mind will greatly reduce the amount you spend on groceries no matter what kind of foods you consume.