We’ve all heard the statistics. About 84% of vegetarians or vegans go back to eating meat at some point in their lives. Or at least that’s what most online blogs I’ve read say. I tried finding the original study, but all the links I found were broken. But let’s roll with that number for the sake of argument. Even though veganism is growing rapidly, and according to my calculations the U.K. will be fully vegan in 38 years, this is a big problem. It may not be 84%, but it is not uncommon for people to stop being vegan.
Even though adopting a vegan diet is the best you can do for reducing animal suffering, environmental degradation and your health, it is not without a struggle. But if we can identify the reasons why people stop being vegan, we can help curb this issue. So here are the top five reasons why I think vegans go back to eating animals.
The Internet is a wonderful resource. However, just like me, anyone can start a blog and post whatever they want with no credentials. On top of that, the world has no shortage of meat, dairy and eggs ads everywhere. Effective marketing techniques by these industries have made you say “milk” when you hear Calcium, “eggs” when you hear Protein and “meat” when you hear Iron. It takes a long time to break away from these beliefs.
It is important you do your own research from reputable sources. I would recommend looking for nutrition advice from Dr Greger from Nutrition Facts and PubMed (although the latter might be difficult to navigate and read as it is very science-based). Besides that, please don’t believe every headline you see online, like “Eating lettuce is worse for the environment than eating bacon” or “Vegetarians kill more animals than meat-eaters” or “Sorry vegans, eating meat made us smarter”. Most of these are clickbait titles designed to confuse you enough that you decide being vegan is not worth the risk. Find the sources of these articles, and read what the studies actually say. Most of the times they end up supporting vegan diets in one way or the other.
If you thinking of quitting your vegan diet because you’ve read somewhere that it’s bad, for whatever reason, I encourage you to read my Complete Vegan Arguments Guide. There, I outline all the common anti-vegan arguments and show why they’re mistaken using as much evidence as I can.
2. A bad vegan diet
Disclaimer: a bad vegan diet doesn’t mean all vegan diets are bad. We kind of all know this already. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics holds that a well-planned vegan diet is suitable for all stages of life, including pregnancy, childhood and athletes. But of course you can have a bad vegan diet. You can have a bad meat-based diet too. This does not imply that the overall eating patterns are intrinsically unhealthy.
“vegan diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”
–Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Some people stop being vegan because they didn’t feel well or they developed a nutrient deficiency. This is, more often than not, a sign of a bad vegan diet. As long as you’re eating a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, cereals and tubers, you’ll be more than fine. And don’t forget to take a B12 supplement!
3. Lack of support
Every vegan thinks they’re the only vegan alive when they first make the change. I can definitely relate to this. The first vegan I met was someone I turned vegan. I still remember that feeling. It feels good to meet someone who agrees with you! This is why I always stress the importance of building a united vegan community.
Given the amount of misinformation out there, coupled with the common objections from family and friends, you can easily believe that what you’re doing is weird, or wrong. It’s not. In fact, in the U.K., 540,000 people agree with you! And even more around the world. I encourage you to look for Facebook groups in your area, or follow other vegans on Instagram. You’re not the first one that’s doubted if what they’re doing is right, and you won’t be the last. Get help from others, and once you feel more confident, be there for others too.
4. Lack of taste
We all love tasty food. I mean, who doesn’t right? Although it’s important to have an overall balanced vegan diet, you need to treat yourself. Most people do. If you’re giving up meat, you need to still enjoy the pleasure that is eating food. Luckily, you sacrifice no taste when going vegan:
The first thing I’d suggest is to look for vegan restaurants in your area through HappyCow and seeing what they have to offer. If you live in a remote area, you can also check out amazing online cooking blogs and getting your hands dirty in the kitchen. Trust me, it’s worth it.
I could share food pics with you forever, but I think you get the idea. If you put the effort in, vegan food is just as tasty as non-vegan food! Think about it: most of the flavour in food comes from spices, herbs, salt and sugar, all plants.
I’m not going to lie to you. When you first go vegan, it’s inconvenient. You need to learn how to cook new dishes, you must check the ingredients in everything you buy, and so on. But everything worth doing requires sacrifice. And after a few weeks, it’ll become second nature. After 4 years of being vegan, I don’t spend any longer doing my weekly shopping than I would if I ate meat. I know what I’m buying, and I know what I’m not buying.
So yes, being vegan can be inconvenient in certain situations, but luckily you get better with time, and you can do a lot to make your life easy. Speaking of which, here’s a video I did explaining how to eat vegan for cheap by shopping at your average supermarket. You don’t need to shop at WholeFoods to be vegan!
Do you know anyone that used to be vegan and stopped because of one of these reasons? Share this with them! Let them have a read, and offer to support them in any difficulties they might have. If you’re reading this and you stopped being vegan, I’d love to know why, so leave a comment!