Let’s face it: being vegan really isn’t a piece of plant based cake! So in this post, I give a candid account of the top 9 vegan challenges we don’t talk about enough!
Because not talking about them (and the solutions) does little to help vegan advocacy.
That’s why I wanted to share some of my personal struggles, and struggles I see as a vegan! As a dietitian, I’m happy to give my insight on the nutrition challenges as well.
Let’s get to the list!
Disclaimer: This article is not providing personal medical or dietary advice. Talk to your own doctor before adding a supplement or making major dietary changes. Opinions are expressed in this article. See our Disclaimers for more details.
9 Vegan Challenges We Don’t Talk About Enough
- Explaining your vegan lifestyle to People
- Identifying vegan products
- Learning how to make vegan recipes
- Finding vegan meals when eating out
- Healthy vegan nutrition can be a learning curve
- Going vegan without support
- Finding tasty fake meat, dairy (fill in the blank) foods
- Imaginative “levels” of vegan
Explaining Your Vegan Lifestyle to People
No matter how you explain it, some people will feel judged the minute you say the word “vegan!”
There’s really no great solution. You can’t control what other people think!
The thing I can do is control how I talk about my veganism.
I don’t use strong language.
I try to focus on facts (ie: what really happens in the animal industry), and remember that this might be new knowledge for some folks.
Adults can take that information any way they want and that part is not up to me!
Identifying Vegan Products
And if I’m being honest, I’m still not sure about all the ingredients in my shampoo. Sometimes it can be tricky to know what products are vegan or not.
And to be quite frank, I’m still learning! I only learned that beeswax is used in lots of waxing products about a year ago. When it came to bees, I only thought of honey and beeswax in cosmetics!
P.S: Luckily, there are vegan alternatives! I mention my personal favorite vegan wax kit over here.
Animal products are hidden in so many products, that it can really tricky and mentally draining to know what’s vegan.
For my energy, I decide to not to give it a second thought if I don’t know something, and instead focus on the difference I’ve made instead.
Learning How to Make Vegan Recipes
Ok, so this one may be a bit surprising: Even though I’m a dietitian, I am not creative in the kitchen (are you shocked?)!
In my process of transitioning to veganism, I got so discouraged because I couldn’t cook dried beans properly on the stove top! (and if you were wondering, I was following a vegetarian diet before that, and did eat beans- so it’s not like I was completely unfamiliar with beans!)
But you know what? There are many ways to cook beans (and there’s also canned beans that only need to be opened and heated up!)
I might not come up with a cookbook any time soon, but luckily, there are several easy vegan recipes on the internet!
And despite my lack of culinary skills, I do know how to meet my nutrition needs as a vegan! Which brings me to the next point.
Healthy Vegan Nutrition Can be a Learning Curve
Maybe you’ve heard about the health benefits from a vegan diet, but planning one can be a learning curve!
There’s this common misconception that it’s the easiest thing to meet your nutrition needs as a vegan.
While that may be true for some, many of us have grown up believing that you can only get calcium from dairy, or protein from meat and fish. Some of us don’t know vegan alternatives at all (much less, how to make a vegan meal plan)!
Since animal based foods are so prominent in nutrition education, vegans shouldn’t skip on learning about vegan nutrition. That’s a surefire way to become an ex-vegan.
Here’s some key things to keep in mind about vegan diets:
- Talk to your doctor about starting a vitamin B12 supplement. Active vitamin B12 is not found naturally in plant based foods.
- Don’t forget about protein rich vegan foods! Options like seitan and extra firm calcium set tofu are nutritious options that’ll help you feel more satisfied.
- Don’t assume that the vegan faux products have the same nutrients as the animal! For example, most plant based milks don’t have iodine like dairy milk, but there are other ways to get iodine! You can learn more about iodine for vegans here.
Read my Vegan for Beginners nutrition guide to learn more!
And if you want extra help, talk to your doctor and meet with a Registered Dietitian to go over your personal nutrition needs.
Finding Vegan Meals when Eating Out
Ok, so vegan food may be more accessible now but that doesn’t always mean I have a meal when I go out!
Personally, French fries are just not my idea of a meal! I’d like something with more sustenance thank you!
But the problem is- sometimes that’s the only option on the menu for vegans, and it shouldn’t be that way!
I can’t wait for the day where vegans will have at least one (maybe a few 🙏) proper meal options when dining out.
For now, I try to make sure I’m not ravenous if I know I’m going to eat somewhere that might not have many options for me.
Going Vegan without Support
Anyone else the only vegan in your family or friends group?
Yep. Going vegan by yourself can be tough. And honestly, it still is for me!
I am currently the only vegan in my house, and that’s rough.
While I don’t get teased, I do find it difficult to pass on things my family wants to do, like the go to the zoo.
Luckily, I’ve made some vegan friends who understand these struggles! And some of them also live with those who don’t share their values.
Finding Tasty Fake Meat, Eggs, (fill in the blank) Foods
It’s not like the cravings just magically go away (although if that’s your experience, congrats!)
I still have yet to find a cheese substitute that is as addictive as how I remember dairy cheese!
We’ve come a long way with vegan food, but I still miss cheese! And that’s ok.
The options that I have are good enough, and there are a few vegan cheeses that help satisfy some of those cravings.
And asking other vegans about their favorite vegan cheese is a good conversation starter (plus, another opportunity for me to learn about one I haven’t tired yet)!
Yes, vegan food is just about everywhere.
But I think we do a disservice to new vegans by saying it’s so easy to go vegan because vegan food is everywhere.
While vegan options are certainly more available, healthy variety is not always accessible.
And those fake vegan meats, cheese etc, may not be available at all to some.
Sure, they aren’t required, but they are nice to have available!
When it comes to buying vegan groceries, I have a few tips you can learn over in my in-depth vegan grocery shopping guide here!
And of course we can’t finish our convo about accessibility, and not talk about how hard (or expensive) it can be to find other vegan products, like vegan makeup or clothing.
I try to keep my purchases low to help mitigate this!
Imaginative “Levels” of Vegan
There really is no scale that measures “how vegan” a person is. But unfortunately, some vegans might feel like there are levels on a hierarchy.
For example, some vegans avoid food coloring because of the testing done on animal while other’s don’t mind consuming it as long as it’s not made from insects.
Is one person a “higher level” of vegan if they avoid the food coloring?
I believe questions like these only make this philosophy and lifestyle more intimidating. They can create negative feelings around veganism that get preached to others.
Let’s show the same compassion we want to show animals when we interact with human beans (see what I did there?)
As a vegan, I’ve learned that I can educate, but change can be a long process that does not necessarily happen from one conversation.
It is up to the adult to interpret what that vegan means to them with whatever time they need to process this new information.
Simple as that! There is no hierarchy and there is no vegan police.
There are several challenges vegans face, whether it’s learning about vegan food, nutrition or dealing with the social stigma.
Some estimates suggest that only about 1-2% of humans in this world are vegan (1). We don’t have an entirely vegan world to say the least! Choosing to make every day vegan is hard.
I want to validate the challenges, but also remind you that vegans don’t do this because it’s easy! It is in spite of these challenges that we practice veganism.
Knowledge is powerful, and support helps us stay the course. If you need extra help with nutrition on a vegan diet, talk to your doctor and registered dietitian.
I hope you found this article helpful! Did I miss any common challenges that vegans face? Do you resonate with any of the challenges I mentioned? Let me know in the comments!
And since you’re still reading, I thought you might be interested in some other articles related to veganism like:
–What You Might Experience During the Transition to Vegan
–Is the Future Vegan?
-Plant Based Diet Book Suggestions from Registered Dietitians
–Plant Based Snacks with Whole Foods
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