This week marks two years since I went vegan. I didn’t find veganism nearly as challenging as I’d expected. However, being vegan isn’t all fresh salads and mushroom gravy. There are a few sucky things that pop up when you adopt a vegan lifestyle. Let’s take a look at some of the not-so-awesome parts of veganism.
1. Eating Out
If you’re eating out with a group of non-vegans, you’re probably going to find yourself at a pub or restaurant that has few or no vegan dishes on the menu. While some restaurants are making more of an effort to include vegan options, most don’t. And the ones that do tend not to attempt anything more adventurous than a salad. So you wind up having to sit there eating limp vegetables while your family all tuck into delicious meals. Worse still is when there isn’t a single vegan option to be seen. Then you have the distinctly yucky choice of having to go without a meal, or order something that’s got animal products in it. I hate skipping meals, so I usually wind up choosing a vegetarian option and then feeling hugely guilty afterwards.
2. Foods that are almost-but-not-quite vegan
It’s happened more times than I can count. I’m at the grocery store and I spot a yummy-looking snack on the shelf. I pick it up and begin to scan the ingredients. Everything checks out and I feel elated that I can buy it and then my eye catches the word “milk solids” crammed at the bottom of the column. I pop it back on the shelf and shuffle away, defeated.
There are so many products that are a whisker away from being vegan, were it not for one minor ingredient. It’s so frustrating to know that were it not for that one sprinkle of whey powder, that tiny bit of tallow or the dash of milk, that product would be on your can-buy list.
3. Smart-arse vegan jokes
People love to make fun of vegans. It’s socially acceptable to make jokes about preachy vegans. Which really sucks because I know very few vegans who are pushy about the vegan lifestyle. Most vegans I know keep to themselves, doing their own thing and leaving their omnivore friends alone. Ironically, in my experience people who aren’t vegan are much more likely to try to convince a vegan to have a slice of bacon, or try to argue that “humans are meant to eat meat/ plants have feelings too/ you can’t possibly get enough protein on a vegan diet”. It sucks to have to be the butt of the joke, while simultaneously fending off people who try to bait you into an argument about the food you choose to eat.
4. The lack of melty cheese
I have an almost obscene love of cheese. The one non-vegan food I constantly crave is cheese. There are some truly awesome vegan cheeses available, and I’ve tried lots of them. But the one thing that most vegan cheeses don’t do is melt. If you put them under the grill or in an oven, the slices bake into brittle cheesy twigs.
My favourite thing about cheese is it’s meltiness. I love stretching strands of mozzarella as I bite into a piece of pizza. I adore gooey melted parmesan atop a steaming bowl of pasta. And that’s nothing compared to the liquid gold that is the humble cheese toastie. I’m yet to find a vegan cheese that melts as satisfactorily as dairy cheese. And that breaks my heart.
5. Nitpicky vegans
Sometimes, the worst thing about being a vegan is other vegans. Now, don’t get me wrong, most vegans are fine. But there is a small group of perfectionist vegans that pride themselves on pointing out where other vegans are going wrong. “Oh, I see that you’re still wearing leather” (well, yes. I bought these shoes before I went vegan and it seems a waste to throw them away). “Ohhh, you DO realise that the syrup on top of your caramel soy frappacino has butter in it, right?” (Nope, I didn’t even think of that). “Wow, you still feed your pets meat?” (Yes, because they’d get sick on a plant based diet and that would be cruel). Veganism is hard, and it’s very easy to slip up. It’s also a lot to think about, not just food we eat but the clothing we wear, the cosmetics we use and the entertainment we consume. I believe that each person is allowed to make their own choices. If they want to give up meat but still eat dairy, that’s their choice. If they want to keep wearing leather and wool? Also their choice. There are no Vegan Police to decide if you’re a good enough vegan, and it’s not up to anyone else to judge what your lifestyle should look like. If you’re giving veganism a go at all, hats off to you for trying. And if not, that’s fine as well.
Are you a vegan? What do you think are the worst parts of veganism?
I still don’t get why people think it’s healthy to feed their pets (carnivorous species) a vegan diet! It burns me up to no end. Carnivorous animals need meat to survive.
Cheese is the main reason I couldn’t go vegan. I went vegetarian for about a month, but I gave up on it. I have noticed the older I get, the less appealing meat is. My mom is vegetarian, almost a vegan. It may have something to do with that. Chicken is my least favorite meat. I would be completely pescatarian, though.
I do try to buy household products, make up, toiletries, etc that don’t test on animals. I’m glad that businesses are starting to be more environmentally conscious.
I absolutely agree with you about pets. It’s not humane to feed them a diet that their body can’t process properly. While I don’t like handling meat and buying meat, I know that my cats need it to be healthy and happy.
I don’t miss meat at all. I never enjoyed handling or cooking meat and going without it has never made me feel deprived. Cheese is by far the thing I found the most difficult to give up, because it was one of my favourite foods before I went vegan. But now, on the rare occasion that I do eat cheese, it upsets my stomach really badly so that’s a disincentive to indulge!
That’s awesome that you buy cruelty free cosmetics. I made the switch to cruelty free products five years before I went vegan. Back then it was really challenging to find information about which products were safe to buy. But now there’s an abundance of resources, as well as a wider variety of brands that have started producing cruelty free toiletries, which makes it so much easier.
I love ya so much Ness! Your blog covers so many things I’m fascinated by and I utterly adore your no BS approach.
The main thing that bugs me about being vegan is the levels of veganism and the preachy vegan who are only too happy to point out when you’re nor measuring up to their expectations.
Yep I wear leather and wool, like you I got them either before I went vegan or I got them from thrift stores etc. I’m also eco as well as vegan, hate waste, love things that last well etc.
I will use thing like propolis and Manuka as a very last resort if I get sick, I suffer from SLE (lupus) and APS and I’m a trainee naturopath. I would rather avoid pharma wherever possible because they’re a) likely to be far worse for me in the long run, b) have usually had a far bigger impact on the animal kingdom at some point in their creation, testing and distribution and c) they’re highly likely to have a detrimental impact on the medication I’m already forced to take because of my conditions.
I also know vegans who keep their own (rescued from battery farming) chickens and eat some of the resulting eggs. I don’t have any issues with this, I know those chucks are extremely happy and well cared for!
The whole issue of feeding pets vegan diets really aggravates me too! I can almost get on board where dogs are concerned as they are technically omnivorous, however most of the dogs I know thrive best on a raw meat diet. Cats on the other hand cannot survive without meat. If you want a vegan pet get a sodding tortoise or rabbit. Leave the cats alone! It’s not their fault that they’re not designed to be vegan.
There are so many ‘levels’ of veganism and frankly if you’re making any effort to be vegan at all I salute you!
I’ve personally always found that just quietly setting a good example, being open to genuine questions and able to give well informed answers is a far more effective method of enlightening people rather than preaching!
Apologies, seems like I got over excited having someone to relate to 🙂
No need to apologise. I loved reading your comment! I agree with you that there are lots of different levels of veganism and it’s up to each person to decide what works for them. Vegan lifestyles can be so overwhelming and can involve a lot of change, so if you choose to modify your habits gradually, or choose not to forgo leather or wool or opt to keep your own (well-treated) hens for eggs then I think that’s totally fine. Each person has to find what works for them and getting preachy only makes people more defensive and ashamed. I’m totally on board with the idea of setting a good example and being open to answering genuine questions as the best way to convince others to give veganism a go.