We’d love to tell you that becoming a vegan and sticking with it is all plain sailing. But there are valid vegan struggles that you’re likely to go through. There will be times when you will feel like life is pulling you in different directions. This article tells you about a few of them and how you can handle them should they happen to you. Or, ideally, prevent them from ever happening.
Struggles You Are Likely to Go Through As A Vegan
It’s not all struggles. But if we’re really honest, being a vegan isn’t all sunshine and rainbows either. There are difficulties, and challenges to overcome.
Here are a few of them:
Knowing What Foods To Eat
Knowing what food you can and cannot eat is not as easy as it looks. It’s necessary to entirely rethink what goes on your plate and in your mouth.
No longer can you simply pick up something from the supermarket, corner store, or deli and buy mindlessly. Every choice, each selection, must be reconsidered.
Does it contain animal products or animal by-products? Or dairy products? Does it come from the ocean?
And then there’s what meals to prepare…
For plant-based foods, the basic vegan diet consists of some starches such as rice, vegan bread, or potatoes.
The main protein source is likely to be a legume, a bean.
The protein might be from soy or tofu if you’re not allergic to it. Or a pea protein, possibly. Nuts, if you’re not allergic, will likely play a part in your diet.
It’s not all nut cutlet tonight, but almond milk, almond butter, and other nutty items are a possibility.
There will also be vegetables and fruits too. Let’s not forget those.
You’ll need to use some recipes to produce new-to-you favorites from vegan-friendly ingredients. Practice makes perfect with these.
Also, lest we forget…. Desserts are more elaborate right down to the type of vegan icing you prefer.
These might be bought from vegan bakeries initially until you’re ready to try your hand at making them at home.
Probably stick to getting the knack of regular vegan meals first before trying to reimagine baking.
Eating Out / Socializing
Eating out and socializing are two different sides of the same coin.
Eating out either for yourself or as part of a romantic couple is a whole new deal.
Eating for One
For yourself, lunches when you’re working out of an office, become more difficult.
If there’s a company canteen, they may not have something suitable or there is just one vegan menu option. And it’s probably not that great if we’re being honest here.
So, you’re left with either preparing a lunch option and bringing it to work or finding a deli or somewhere near to work to purchase lunch.
In any case, it’ll require more time or at the very least, some research to find the right option. There are vegan bread options and vegan deli meat alternatives, so packing a sandwich or a sub isn’t hard to do.
Finding a vegan-approved café for lunch might be harder depending on where you work. Although, more and more bigger cities are getting a selection of vegan cafes and restaurants.
Eating as a Couple
When you’re both vegan, it’s far easier. At least you’re both up for the challenge of finding restaurants with plenty of eating options that meet your needs.
However, when you’re vegan and they’re not, that’s another matter entirely.
Then it’s necessary to find local restaurants, take a look at their websites, access their menus, and verify that they have vegan dishes available.
Also, the site may not have been regularly updated, so the menu could be outdated. You may arrive for your dining booking only to discover that there are few if any, vegan-friendly dishes on the menu now.
Usually to avoid this possibility, choosing a vegan restaurant is much safer.
But for couples who aren’t both vegan, this isn’t usually an option unless your partner is very understanding.
Why not alternate between choosing the restaurant or finding other ways to keep both of you happy.
We would use a choice word to refer to socializing as a vegan… But we’re family-friendly here. So, let’s just say it’s… a bit of a bugbear and leave it at that.
As a group, there is usually one person who’s the natural leader of the group. That person may or may not be you!
If it’s not, then know they may ask other people where they wish to socialize, but they may hold greater sway with the final decision.
When it comes down to choosing a place to drink or eat that’ll be fine with you, it may become an issue pretty soon.
When it’s a group of 6-10 people who get together and you’re the only vegan, continuing to eat out with them may be difficult.
If socializing is more about hitting the local bars and maybe grabbing a snack before heading home, it’s less likely to be a problem. You can just skip the food snack and maybe keep some vegetable snacks in the car.
The Feeling of Guilt
When other people have to constantly make changes to adjust to your eating differently, you may feel guilty about this.
Even if they seem fine about it – or are only too happy to make the changes to dinner plans — you may still be wracked with guilt.
The thing is that you need to stop apologizing for it! Yes, it is inconvenient for other people who aren’t vegan. But if they care about your feelings or preferences, then they’ll do what they can.
Confusion Over What It Means To Be Vegan
The feeling of guilt also leads to the next point that sometimes – many times! – people are confused about what a vegan is.
They’re all too willing to make adjustments if they only knew what they were.
To most people, being vegan means you only eat salads all day, every day. No, no, we’re being serious. They think it’s like being a fruitarian where you only consume fruit and nothing else.
One way to explain it is that you do not eat meat from animals or anything from the sea. Protein comes from beans and other sources.
Starches like rice or potatoes are fine. And vegetables are consumed like normal.
Of course, actual vegan recipes go deeper than this and often need to replace one ingredient with a vegan alternative until the recipe is entirely redesigned.
But, that’s too complicated to explain to someone who just needs basic information.
Your Friends and Family Don’t Support You
Some friends and family won’t be supportive of your choices.
They may think it is silly or unhealthy or unwise. They may be critical of it like it’s a fad and you’re trying to be trendy or stand out from other people.
If meeting family or friends who won’t know how to cook in a vegan way, then bring a cooked vegan dish with you.
Then you’ll have something to eat. They don’t have to try to muddle through and get it wrong or have extra cooking to do just for you.
Being vegan may alienate some friends who don’t understand it and feel like you’ve changed, and they’ve been left behind.
Confirm to them that that’s untrue. There is only so much you can do to assuage their fears.
Vegans often suffer from an iron deficiency because compared to animal meat, protein in vegan diets lacks sufficient iron.
Not having enough iron may seem minor but it can lead to a feeling of fatigue and a host of other issues.
B12 vitamins can also be lacking too.
It’s a good idea to take a daily multivitamin supplement to get the full supply of major vitamins and minerals needed. This covers a lot of different areas where a vegan may be lacking in certain essential nutrients.
There are separate iron and other supplements.
However, many of the iron supplements don’t contain more than is found in a multi-vitamin supplement already.
Also, with iron and some other supplements, taking more than the recommended daily amount doesn’t help the body retain it. Iron is best consumed through iron-rich food as supplementation for this isn’t so effective.
Vegan Foods are More Expensive
Plant-based food is seen as a small segment of the regular food offered.
Because of this, despite it not necessarily being produced using more expensive produce, pre-prepared vegan food can be more expensive than other types.
The more than you prepare your meals from scratch, the less the sticker shock will be.
When you have some good standby meals that you can whip up quickly, this keeps the costs down. However, if you purchase ready meals or pre-packaged items, then they’re more expensive.
Excessive Sodium in Packaged Foods
Some vegan foods, especially veggie burgers, vegan sausages, and other shaped foods ready for the grill can contain more sodium than you’d like.
In which case, you’ll need to either pick the lowest sodium version available or start from the basic ingredients, get busy with your food mixer, and create a fresh burger patty or vegan sausage.
The same goes for fats, sugars, and other areas where the levels may be overly high in processed vegan foods from the supermarket.
Extra Time Spent Checking Food Labels
If you’re still shopping in the supermarket, then you’ll need to check the product labels one by one.
This is time-consuming and a pain.
It’s possible to check some of the products online before hitting the store though and making a list of the ones you pre-approved. This can save you some time.
I would say that shopping in the plant-based foods or vegan aisle in the supermarket will save time with it.
However, some vegans do wish to avoid overly processed soy and other items in their foods, so they may still find themselves reading too many labels.
Another approach is to shop at healthier stores or vegan-only stores.
This can reduce the time checking on what you’re purchasing, but specialty stores tend to be more expensive.
Then online purchasing can be cheaper when looking for deals and the labels can be viewed in larger print too. This is easier for people with vision difficulties that find the small print difficult to see in the store.
Pangs for Meat as a Former Carnivore
If you’re having occasional pangs for some bacon, some brisket, or something else from an animal, then we hear you. That’s difficult to turn off entirely.
There are two approaches to this problem.
The first is to reeducate yourself on the joys of how animals are harvested to produce the food that goes into the supermarket.
How harmful it is to animals including their living conditions before they’re killed so humans can eat a meal. That may “scare you straight,” so to speak.
The second is to eat some prepared vegan foods like sausages, burgers, or other animal-like vegan versions.
This can visually make it feel like I’m eating the same thing while sticking to being vegan.
The majority of the struggles improve or disappear over time. None are good reasons to abandon a vegan dietary plan and go back to a carnivore diet though. And they should not be used as a weak excuse to do so either.
Summary: Vegan Struggles
There are a number of vegan struggles you are likely to go through. But if you are mentally prepared for these, and have a strategy in place, they do not need to hinder your vegan lifestyle. What struggles have you faced (or are facing), as a vegan? Let us know in the comments below, between the members in this community, we may be able to offer some advice or guidance.