Veganism isn’t a switch. It’s a series of choices you make for them to eventually become part of your subconscious. It’s a lifestyle rather than just a habit.
So why do people struggle to stay vegan? Well, there’s more than one answer to this question.
For some people, it happens instantly, but as we’ve learned over the years, this approach seems to be rare. As some of you may know, this is how we became vegan.
But today I wanted to discuss why people take longer to transition and what may be holding them back from making the full leap.
Before I get into it, I want to note that I’m not judging others for their journey. I’m just hoping to help you relate with some of the reasons that may be holding you back. I completely appreciate that everyone’s situation is different and that any progress is progress in the right direction. Let’s all celebrate it.
Note: since publishing this article, we also recorded a podcast episode about why people stop being vegan.
Here are the reasons that we have found to be the biggest struggles for people.
Doing it for health
With more research coming out every single day about the health benefits of being vegan, no wonder that veganism is on the rise!
We get asked all the time if this is the reason we chose this lifestyle. Generally speaking, health is the easiest way for omnivores to see why someone would choose this lifestyle. It’s a much easier topic for others to relate to, especially if they don’t know what happens behind closed doors in factory farms and the like.
Choosing veganism for health reasons is also a great way to get started. However, it can easily be the culprit for you 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 days that all we want to do is indulge in a pizza.
So if you’re choosing to be vegan for health reasons, maybe it’s worthwhile exploring that a little bit deeper. Add some documentaries to your watch-list like Cowspiracy, Dominion, Unity or even A Plastic Ocean. Read some books, ours is a great start.
When you have a stronger why you make better choices. You make that connection and saying no to animal products becomes easier as it’s not just about you.
On the contrary, if you become vegan with the hopes of becoming healthier but 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 will then start to see the health benefits of being vegan.
Note: I do acknowledge that certain health conditions make it very difficult/impossible for people to follow a strictly vegan diet. This section is more talking to people that have chosen to eat plant-based because of their health.
Your family is not on board
This is probably the main reason why people can’t stay vegan. Family and food is such a big part of everyone’s lives.
It can be very exhausting physically, and mentally to be “the difficult one” who is always requesting separate meals or having to cook different meals for yourself and then the rest of the family.
This is why many people choose to keep the peace and also not to spend hours in the kitchen every day, decide that it’s just easier to cook the same for everyone. We hear this time and time again.
Some ways to help could be:
- Batch cook for yourself and then store in fridge and freezer for the week.
- Make meals that can be vegan and then add in whatever else partway through cooking, separating yours first.
- 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.
- Teach your family how to make their own food. I know that this isn’t an option for some families that have small kids but there’s nothing more empowering than them learning how 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.
The convenience trap
Oh yes, the convenience trap. It’s so easy to fall into it.
Sometimes laziness gets the better of us. And before you know it, one poor choice has lead 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 ahead. Think of all the places that offer vegan options for lunch during your lunch break, or pack in advance. Apps like Happy Cow help if you’re stuck for ideas or aren’t familiar with the area. We use it all the time. It saves us having to get hangry 🙂
If you struggle with food in general and are very picky, then ask the cafe or restaurant to make something off the menu. Most places are happy to do it if they get the notice or you request ingredients to be put together that they already have in other dishes.
Again, when you educate yourself more deeply, it will 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 that it was easy or pretty, but that’s the unfortunate reality that we live in. Every single time you’re purchasing something, you’re voting with your dollar to change that suffering or keep it going.
Not knowing enough
As I discussed above in a few other examples, knowledge is so valuable. In many ways, it creates the strong why behind the interest that sparked this lifestyle, to begin with.
Educate yourself, watch, read, talk to others, connect with like-minded people. It’s becoming more accessible to be vegan every day. More people are choosing this lifestyle and for excellent reasons!
As the old saying goes “knowledge is power” and the more of it that you have, the reason you choose to be vegan will be for life. You can’t unknow what you’ve been exposed to.
Wrong reasons and expectations
Any progress is good progress. But if you become vegan because Miley Cyrus is 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, it may not stick long term.
Sometimes we also have expectations of what a vegan diet can do for us. You hear of health transformation, athletes performing better on a plant-based diet and well, your cool factor may increase as well.
But everyone’s journey and bodies are different. If you go in with the wrong expectations of what you’ll get out of it, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment.
Struggling with what to cook
For those that don’t like spending time in the kitchen or tend to burn things to a crisp without meaning to, 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 just 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, you can start here.
Are there any reasons that I missed that you think are important to take note of? Would love to get a positive discussion happening in the comments below.