Why You’re Struggling To Stay Vegan

Veganism isn’t a switch. It’s a series of choices that form part of your subconscious. It’s an identity, not a temporary experience.

Yet, 84% of vegetarians/vegans abandon their diet. That’s a mere 16% success rate. Not super comforting numbers for the animals.

So why do most people struggle to stay vegan? 

It comes down to doing it for the wrong reasons, having the wrong expectations, lack of support, knowledge and skills—which we’ll break down in more detail below.

Note we’re not judging others who are failing at veganism. In some ways, we’re all failing at living compassionately. We’re hoping that you can relate to some of the examples that may be holding you back.

We appreciate that everyone’s situation is different, and any progress is progress in the right direction. So let’s celebrate and reward any genuine attempts to be vegan.

If you like podcasts, we recorded an episode about why people stop being vegan. 

Now, let’s break down these barriers that may be preventing you from staying vegan and hopefully increase the overall success rate of veganism.

You started a vegan diet purely for health reasons

A whole foods plant-based diet’s health benefits are well documented, helping to reduce heart disease, some cancers, type 2 diabetes, and even aid weight loss (although this is not always the case). 

Generally speaking, health is the easiest way for omnivores to see why someone would choose a vegan diet. Culturally we love to debate the effectiveness of different diets—while simultaneously refusing to acknowledge what happens behind closed doors in factory farms and the like.

Choosing veganism for health reasons is a great way to get started. However, it can easily be the culprit for dropping off. 

It’s like going to the gym. How many of us are really committed to going 3-4 times a week? Or eating healthy? We all have our slip-ups and indulge in pizza from time to time.

So if you’re choosing to be vegan for health reasons, it’s worth exploring beyond the nutritional benefits. Add some documentaries to your watch-list like Cowspiracy, Dominion, Unity or even A Plastic Ocean. Read books on veganism—ours is a great start.

When you become connected to the atrocities of mass-scale animal exploitation, it makes it that much easier to say no to animal consumption over time. 

On the contrary, if you become vegan with the hopes of becoming healthier but are still eating the same types of foods you were before making the transition, you’ll quickly learn that you can still be a junk food vegan

So, stick to a whole foods diet with lots of fresh (organic if possible) produce, and you’ll start to see the health benefits of being vegan.

Note: we acknowledge that certain health conditions make it very difficult/impossible for people to follow a strictly vegan diet. This section is for folks that have chosen to eat plant-based with the priority of optimising their health.

yoga class outside shot through leaves.

Your friends and family don’t support you

This is probably the main reason why people don’t stay vegan. Relationships and food is such a big part of everyone’s lives.

It can be exhausting, both physically, and mentally to be “the difficult one” who’s always requesting a separate dinner or having to cook different meals for yourself.

This constant friction can break you. It’s tempting to give up, keep the peace, and eat the same as everyone, animals on the plate or not.

There’s no getting around this—it’s hard to be vegan when your spouse, children, parents, friends, colleagues don’t want you to be. Below are some tips to help you stay strong in these situations.

  1. Batch cook hearty meals for yourself and then store them in the fridge or freezer to eat throughout the week. Our favourite freezer-friendly meals are red lentil stew and soup. It’s affordable, filling, versatile and tasty.
  2. Make meals that can be vegan and then add animal ingredients partway through cooking, separating yours first.
  3. Introduce vegan days in your home for the rest of your family to start seeing the benefits of veganism and how tasty the food can really be.
  4. Teach your family how to make their own food. I know that this isn’t an option for some families with small kids, but there’s nothing more empowering than having them learn to cook their own meals.  

It can be a traumatic experience when you have a strong passion for not eating animals and their by-products to then have to prepare it for others, but take comfort in knowing that you’re doing your part, and you should be proud!

You’re stuck in your old habits and conveniences when eating out

Sometimes laziness gets the better of us. Before you know it, one poor choice leads to eating chicken two nights in a row and having a cheese and ham sandwich for lunch.

The best way to combat this is to plan. Think of all the places that offer vegan options for lunch during your lunch break, or pack in advance. 

Apps like Happy Cow and abillionVeg are lifesavers if you’re stuck for ideas or aren’t familiar with the area.

If you struggle with food in general or you’re a little particular, ask the cafe or restaurant to make something off the menu. Most places are happy to do it if they get notice or you request ingredients to be put together that they already have in other dishes.

Once you get more experience and educate yourself on the abundance of vegan-friendly foods available, it’ll be easier to make the right choices. 

You won’t look at food the same way. You’ll see a live animal next time you look at that steak burger. You’ll see the mother cow being ripped away from a crying baby calf when you look at that milkshake.

No one said it was easy or pretty, but that’s the unfortunate reality we live in. Every time you purchase something, you vote with your dollar to reduce suffering to animals or keep it going.

You lack knowledge of a vegan lifestyle

As we’ve already mentioned, knowledge is critical to staying vegan. Awareness creates the why behind the interest that sparked this lifestyle, to begin with.

Watch, read, listen, talk to others, connect with like-minded people. It’s becoming more accessible to be vegan every day. More people are choosing veganism and for excellent reasons!

If you want to improve your physical performance, then read up on the best plant-based macronutrient profiles for your body type. Learn how to get a variety of protein sources from plants. 

If you’re pregnant, join Facebook groups and other online communities where vegan mamas share their most useful experiences, tips and resources. 

As the old saying goes, “knowledge is power”, and the more you have, the more motivation you’ll have to stay vegan. You can’t unknow what you’ve been exposed to.

You became vegan for the wrong reasons

Progress is progress—but if you became vegan because Miley Cyrus was vegan, I’m not sure how strong of a why that is. Yes, you may idealise her and think that she’s great, but again, if you don’t have a more profound reason, you’re unlikely to stick out veganism long term.

We also sometimes have expectations of what a vegan diet can do for us. Type in “vegan transformation” into Google or YouTube and spend hours seeing incredible health results 

Beyond epic body transformation, perhaps you became vegan because your spouse did, even though you weren’t completely sold. Or maybe you became vegan because it’s socially cool to do so in your circle of influence. 

Whatever the reason, try to shift your focus away from what you can get from veganism and think about the moral obligation you have to exercise compassion to sentient beings and the planet. 

When you have a deeper, more selfless perspective about veganism, the individual benefits become a by-product or even an afterthought—boosting your commitment along the way.

Woman stirring pot on stove with vegetables around.

You’re struggling with what to cook

For those who don’t like spending time in the kitchen or tend to burn things to a crisp without meaning, I can completely understand that transitioning your lifestyle to avoid meat, dairy, eggs, and honey would be tough.

You may even enjoy being in the kitchen but have no clue what to cook now. We went through that period, and we ate veggie wraps for lunch for two weeks straight to get our heads around what foods and ingredients are vegan-friendly.

With so many cookbooks, recipe blogs, new products in mainstream stores, it’s hard to get stuck for ideas. Sure, five or so years ago, it would’ve been a different story, but today, information is abundant everywhere you look!

Start slow, introduce new meals when you feel like you have some basics down pat. Try new vegetables or cook ones you’re familiar with in different ways. Try different grains. 

There’s always so much to experiment with and test out. Your only restriction is how far you’re prepared to take it. If you need some inspiration and guidance, we created a detailed beginners guide to vegan grocery shopping.

You’ve created a false sense of reality

In our world, it feels like everyone is going vegan. This is by design. When we first became vegan, we sought vegan friends, colleagues, listened to vegan podcasts, read vegan books, watched vegan YouTubers and joined vegan communities.

We essentially created a protective vegan bubble to share our opinions and learn from other vegans safely. 

However, what we found is if you hang out in this vegan bubble for too long, you start to think veganism is more prevalent than it is. 

The reality is, consumerism and animal cruelty have never been at a higher level. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though. If anything, spending a healthy amount of time outside of your bubble has some significant benefits.

For one, grounding yourself in reality reconnects you to why you started your vegan journey. For example, go down to your local grocery store and do some people watching (in a non-creepy way). What are people putting in their baskets?

Watching people shop reminds us of a time where our priorities were strictly taste, convenience, performance and price. At no time did we consider the supply chain and the product source (death of an animal).

Seeing this in action reminds you of how most people still live today, and it should feel motivating to continue your cause.

Coming outside of your bubble also allows you to communicate better with those who don’t think the same way as you. Nothing brings down walls of communication more than being able to put yourself in the shoes of others. 

To do this effectively, you must put yourself in situations or interactions where people have opposing views. From there, we can learn about each other and even see the flaws in our own journey.

So here’s where we suggest. Use your vegan bubble as your safety net to develop your new identity. However, once you’ve adjusted to your vegan lifestyle, it’s crucial that you stay grounded in what’s happening in the world.

Have you struggled to maintain a vegan lifestyle?

We recognise that we’re all in different situations, and we’d love to hear why you’ve struggled to stay vegan. Was it for the same reasons discussed in this post or something else altogether? Let’s get a positive discussion happening in the comments below and learn from each other. 

Why You’re Struggling To Stay Vegan

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26 thoughts on “Why You’re Struggling To Stay Vegan”

  1. Hi,
    Just saying Hi, reaching out, curious to see why people may change their belief systems, it works both ways, and I want to be a more effective advocate for veganism.
    I’ve been vegan for a decade now and feel that this is the very least that I can do for the animals and for the health of the planet.
    Keep on, your loving site is awesome.

  2. Hi there Love the way you bring so much good vibrations to your viewers. I have been a vegetarian/
    vegan for 2 years now. The reason i am not just vegan is that cheese is my biggest problem. For health reasons i should not consume dairy. I find your site very relaxing to watch and read. When i started to become vegetarian /vegan i could not find a way how to plate food. Non veg/veg way of cooking have meat, starch and veg, how do i break that cycle of trying replace a old way of thinking and cooking to a new more healthy way of thinking and cooking. I have spend to much money on trying new recipes and allot of the recipes are quite costly, like the idea of only using the minimalistic ingredients in your cooking. Love the way you and your husband work with each other its very relaxing to watch. Thanks for an amazing experience.

    1. Hi Geraldine, thank you so much for your kind words. Eating plant-based is certainly a shift in mindset from veggies being a supporting act on the plate to taking the lead. We’ve found it helpful to focus on making your plant proteins the new hero of the dish and making them as interesting as possible. That means finding exciting ways to marinate tofu and tempeh or working aromatic spices into your lentils. We’ve found that a vegan diet is primarily more expensive when it comes to dairy replacements, but it’s super affordable outside of that.
      You’ve likely worked all of this out in the last couple of years 🙂
      Thanks for taking the time to share your experience, and hopefully, you can find longevity in a vegan lifestyle.

  3. TriangleHarem

    This is a lovely, thoughtful, and extremely compassionate, loving approach to reach out to people who want, struggling or who are vegan.

    I just want to comment on a previous comment that was posted by Jo on 16/8/18, where you quoted ‘…and I think a good point to make that hasn’t really been mentioned is that, especially for a new vegan — don’t align yourself with militant vegans. I’ve been on certain vegan Youtube channels, and some of these vegans are so pushy and militant. They shame you if you’re not a street activist, if you consume palm oil, honey, or if you eat Oreos.’

    I just want to shed some light on this, and it’s a bit dark and disturbing.

    Unfortunately, I dated what you would call an abolitionist vegan. His strong moral standpoint did initially make me feel that I would be safe in his company, and therefore safe to get involved in a loving relationship with him. So we went through an intense, but short-lived honeymoon period, followed by him devaluing me which was extrememly emotionally abusive (it stemmed from when he rang me up once, during the honeymoon period, and I was just too tired to speak to him), and obviously this hurt his ego so much it lead to him being callously abusive with me which led to him discarding me with an extreme lack of empathy and coldness.

    I found out from that he had randomly attempted to murder someone and had not one bit of remorse about it. Of course this was completely hidden from until he chose to reveal in the ‘discard’ stage of our relationship, which he used to deliberately frighten me for his own pleasure.

    And he was one of these militant vegans who spends his time trolling the internet as he has a very large contempt for anyone else who is also vegan , and spends all his energy, ‘as he is too intelligent to get a job’, giving intellectual arguments as to why other fellow vegans aren’t as morally superior to him.

    Then after that, I worked with someone in my previous job, who had a very risky history, basically a VERY dangerous person, who was keen to become a vegan. And I heard stories, of serial killers who were vegans or vegetarians, and a cannibal who was a vegan. For these people, they will probably spend there time grooming their next vitims, and some, if they are devoid of victims, will spend their time getting pleasure of pulling someone’s ethics to bits, just for one purpose, to appear to be the most morally superior.

    Sorry about the darkness and uncomfortableness of my comment. But if you feel yourself getting wound up and getting veraciously picked on my a fellow vegan, remember, it might just be their style of communicating and getting their message across, or it might be someone who takes pleasure of doing that – and if the latter is the case, you will not win in an argument with them.

    1. Sorry, I’m just catching up on comments. There’s a lot to digest here but overall agree with your punchline. Your experiences shed light on the context we can easily overlook when dealing with people who communicate and act in a militant way. Thanks for sharing with us.

    2. Hey, that was me! Lol.
      Your story is extremely “dark”, as you say.. and I find it rather upsetting and quite hypocritical. Veganism isn’t supposed to be about loving animals, but hating your fellow man/woman.. and yet, a lot of militant vegans wish death on non-vegans and shame other vegans for not being vegan “enough”. These are the very same people that, if they decide to no longer be vegan, will write about how they were “that” bullying, militant person, and how they’ve now seen the light and realize that living a vegan lifestyle isn’t “right” for your body..so they go back to being the very people they’ve once shamed, and are now shaming anyone who is vegan. It’s a real shitshow. xD
      I don’t care what other people do. I’m not gonna lie and say that I don’t wish the whole world was vegan, but everyone is on their own path and needs to stay in their lane. Leading with love, not hatred or contempt, is the only way to go, whether you’re vegan or not.
      Jo xx

  4. I am really struggling to be vegan recently (vegan since 5 years). But the funny thing is my family is somewhat supportive (I do not see them so often anyway), my bf is also vegan (dream, I know I am really lucky), I have my strong beliefs about ‘why’ and I have no intentions going back. However… I am still struggling a lot. I live in a country where there are some vegan options but are rather scarce and expensive (also, so much of plastic). I am also fed up with constant planning meal plans and rocket-sciencing food I started to lack. I REALLY miss the convenience… What is more, food is one of the most important things in my live, since always, I really savour it, I need it to be good for my wellbeing (I know wellbeing of innocent animals is more important, like I said I am not going back). Also, sadly, there aren’t many good vegan places where I live (mastery in cooking and activism don’t go hand in hand). Culture of my country is really meat based, so even if there happen to be amazing vegan place, they go out of business sooner or later. Vegan food don’t satisfies me anymore (I thought it could be linked to too little protein, but I can’t stand tofu and legumes anymore, only options here). Anyway, I am stuck, I do not enjoy food, my health and wellbeing is getting worse… What is more, I try to cut on plastic (also really important thing for me) which is immposible on cheap vegan diet in my country. I don’t know what to do, help… *I do not want to hear I’m lazy (I cook every meal myself), I AM seeking recipes (I own about 10 vegan cookbooks, and about 1000 pins on food on Pinterest)… Maybe ANYONE knows what I am talking about….I am myself considering option ‘suffer in silence for the sake of animals’ no need to say that, this is just final attempt to maybe reach some help*

    1. Hey Alicja, I’m wondering how ur being now that a week has passed?

      I absolutely resonate with your thoughts and words. 4 months ago I changed my diet to vegetarianism because I was so sick of eating just the same foods all over again and again. I was also 5 years vegan and for almost 10 years vegetarian. I love food, cooking and eating, the same as you. I wanted to learn Ayurveda cooking since there were spices I don’t know so far. I had hoped to fresh things a little up. But it didn’t change anything, it made things even harder for me. I love vegs and healthy food but it doesn’t give me the thrill it has been. I even decided to eat meat and fish again, to try if it satisfies me – it does not and I have such a guilty feeling. But lately, I just can’t go back to vegan. I feel trapped, wrong, guilty, ashamed.

  5. Hi there
    I have been vegan for ten months. Lately I have been fed up of planning two lots of meals as my o/h is not vegan. He does have meat free days and does his share of cooking. I make things and add meat to his and veg to mine and it has worked ok. I am now at the point of dumping the substitutes I have maybe once a week and being totally plant based.
    Having read you blog and thinking about a calf and it s mum being dragged apart I am now ready to roll up my sleeves and get on with it.

    Many thanks

  6. Thank you for this. I love your style—so clear, and your compassion (both of yours!) comes across so clearly.

  7. I fall into the” I don’t know what to eat category”. I’m not vegan but I eat mostly plants. I have a family that eats everything else.
    Please point me in the direction of very simple plant meals with little fuss.

  8. Thanks for these lovely words. This might be a strange question, but can you share the title the magazine/book that’s displayed in the first photo (with the Splendor in the Grass article)? It looks beautiful!

  9. Thanks for the article Masa.
    One big reason I decided to become vegan because of the gross inefficiency of meat production. It takes so much water and feed, which also takes water to produce. And then the land required for animals, plus the land required to grow crops is too much for our planet to handle.

    One exception I do make to veganism is if there is leftover non-vegan food at work or if I see non-vegan food that is soon to be thrown out I will consume it to prevent waste, which to me is the greatest evil we can do to our food. I just think of all the resources that went into that food and to throw it out adds insult to injury. What do you think about consuming non-vegan food to prevent it from being thrown away?

    1. I can totally understand where you’re coming from, but personally, I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I would rather give it to someone else that wasn’t vegan to eat it or put it in the compost. If the food is still packaged I would donate it to the homeless.

  10. Thank you for your thoughts on the matter. Something that I’m struggling with is that my family and I are in Germany at the moment and are visiting family and friends during our stay. Its not difficult to avoid meat per say but the dairy. Family and friends we are staying with know my family and I don’t eat meat but I finding it difficult to say and we don’t consume milk, cheese, icecream and eggs. I just don’t want to offend them or be an inconvenience to them. Germany is a country that consumes lots of meat and dairy. A lot. Yesterday we were invited to a friends home. She knew we didn’t eat meat so she made a beautiful salad and tortillini with cheese. She was so kind to accommodate us and not serve meat. I wasn’t about to tell her “ sorry we don’t eat cheese either.” It’s a hard balance when you’re being hosted by friends and family…I don’t want to put them out or seem too picky and ungrateful. What are you thoughts on the matter?

    1. I can totally understand where you’re coming from. However, I always let people know if I can that we are vegan. Having a European background myself, when we travelled through Croatia and Slovenia, I told everyone that had us over for a meal that we were vegan. They would just confirm what it was that we didn’t eat and then make something appropriate. I would also always offer to bring something along as well or tell them not to worry making us something. The only time that it was a little awkward was when my cousin didn’t tell my uncle and auntie we were vegan before we came over to visit (this was in Vancouver and I didn’t really know them). We didn’t realise that they would serve food and I could have saved my auntie a whole day in the kitchen. We learned from that lesson and there were no problems moving forward. We did still manage to eat some pasta with some roasted vegetables.

      I think that you shouldn’t feel bad for standing up for your own values. Most people are happy to accommodate and will learn something new themselves as well. Out of all trips that we did visiting family and friends, my grandma was the only one that was upset, because she expresses love through food and was a little stuck on what to cook (she eats a lot of meat and seafood herself). In the end, though, she cooked some great vegan meals for me and I also did quite a bit of cooking while I stayed with her. I think at the end of the day if they knew the truth (that you’re vegan), they would feel bad for serving you dairy. As my grandmother, a lot of people show love through food and if you are eating something just to accommodate them, they wouldn’t be happy if they knew that. Be true to yourself.

  11. Hi, Masa..
    I really appreciate your comments. Yes, it can be very difficult to be vegan in this world, and nope, it’s impossible to do it 100% of the time. To your point, car tires are not vegan..and detergent (from what I understand) isn’t vegan, either..and I think a good point to make that hasn’t really been mentioned is that, especially for a new vegan — don’t align yourself with militant vegans. I’ve been on certain vegan Youtube channels, and some of these vegans are so pushy and militant. They shame you if you’re not a street activist, if you consume palm oil, honey, or if you eat Oreos. I honestly don’t get that anal about it. I’m vegan for health and for the animals, but WITHIN REASON. It’s been over a year and yes, I’ve had “slip-ups”..but my slip-ups were eating too much dark chocolate, oily potato chips and junk foods like Oreos (which to militant vegans aren’t acceptable due to the palm oil and bone char used to process the sugar, but again, I don’t take it that far. These are the same people who wouldn’t eat dark chocolate manufactured on the same line as milk, after all). To ME, being vegan is not consuming any animal products, PERIOD..and doing so out of the principle of not wanting to contribute to or support animal suffering. I don’t worry about bone char or palm oil (yet, I try not to eat oil, in general, anyway, as it’s not a whole food). Recently, I had a family occasion and my cousin very graciously and considerately made sure I had something vegan to eat (pasta and broccoli). So while everyone had chicken parm and eggplant parm, clams, etc., plus all sorts of yummy-looking Italian desserts, I ate my broccoli and pasta and had some jelly beans. Well..I discovered afterwards that Jelly Belly’s weren’t vegan because they use insects to color the “beans”. I didn’t have a melt-down about it. I just know for next time to avoid them. But now I have a wedding to go to in a few weeks and I’m upset because my options will be chicken, beef or fish. Hmmph. Despite asking the groom’s parents (my cousin and his wife) whether I’ll have vegan options at this wedding, I was “shut down”. It’s like as soon as you say you can’t eat something, nobody wants to hear it. Well, guess what? I’m going to the wedding, but I’ll be eating a salad if that’s all that’s available. If you’re vegan just for your health, you’re going to “cave”, eventually..but I went vegan for my health and STAY for the animals. It’s the least I can do. xx

    1. Thanks for sharing Jo, I totally agree. We make the choice and sometimes we do slip up, but we learn and move on. Others can at times make the vegan lifestyle seem off-putting. Sorry to hear of your experiences with family. If that was me, I would make sure to eat something before the reception, so I wouldn’t go hungry if they won’t support my choices.

  12. I really like this – it acknowledges the struggles, but offers advice without seeming pushy to try and help you maintain a vegan lifestyle. I was a vegetarian for eleven years and I fell to the second one when I moved in with my husband – he does the cooking and to make it easier I started eating meat so he didn’t have to cook two meals. Then when I was off sick I started researching different veggie recipes and watched several documentaries and now my husband eats 90% vegan too!

  13. Hi Masa

    Thanks for your email.

    I watched the free screening of Dominion last night and reading your email about not judging people was hard. I don’t want to be judgemental but I think judging others is human nature and anyone who says they don’t judge is fibbing. But I understand what you’re saying and it’s also about the delivery of what you’re saying. If the comments you were reading in that vegan group were really nasty of course I wouldn’t support it, but the reason I’m ranting about this is because of Dominion. I watched that documentary and I hated every single person in the world so much I wanted to lash out and punch a wall. I wanted those people treating those animals like that in the documentary to have barbed wire shoved up their asses and ripped out. I just couldn’t handle it. I watched the whole thing but I wanted to leave so bad. It hurt me so much and even writing this now I’m fighting back tears of heart ache and also anger.

    Also, I was vego for 16 years and went vegan 12 months a go. There’s still room for improvement from me and I have slipped up here and there but I know I will never go back to living a non vegan lifestyle. I’m lucky and haven’t struggled with it much. My biggest challenge has been Cadbury chocolate but I’m over that now. I never crave meat and havent for years. I think of cheese as cow pus and so cannot even eat vegan cheese without being grossed out completely. I hate any white liquid and I never liked yogurt. So I’m lucky and have found it very easy and so enjoyable. I love cooking and sharing food and my recipes and books and most of all I love eating.

    Thanks for everything. Love reading your stuff X

    1. Hi Jessie, thanks for sharing. I haven’t personally seen Dominion because I know I’d be watching something that would emotionally break me. I’ve seen Earthlings and that’s why we became vegan, and that’s enough for me. I can totally sympathise and understand your anger and frustration. I felt the same way too, it will pass. Just give yourself some time.

      I think how I look at it is that most people weren’t born vegan and they’re on their own journey. But what we can do is plant seeds. The people that do this harm to the animals, we don’t know their story either. Workers in slaughterhouses have some of the biggest suicide rates of most jobs out there. I know that in the US a lot of the workers are illegal immigrants or people that don’t have too many options in regards to employment. I know that pretty much any job is better than working in a slaughterhouse, but I would try and seek to understand them. But then you have some that are just psychopaths.

      Glad to hear you enjoy our content xx

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