These days, more than the question “Where do you get your protein?” when people who are not vegan find out I have a blog, the most common statements are:
“I was vegan but (there are a hundred different reasons.)”
“My friend was vegan but (just as many reasons.)”
“I want to be vegan but (almost as many reasons but mainly because they can’t give up cheese.)”
Yesterday I was presented with, “I tried vegan and found I wasn’t getting enough iron.” Completely out of my normal character I laughed out loud in this persons face. Not a roll on the floor type laugh. It was more of a giggle. I feel horrible about that now, this was just a reason I had never encountered. I then explained that vegetables and beans contain a lot of iron and that I am not a nutritionist but I am pretty sure you have to consume them with a Vitamin C in order for it to absorb properly. The person then proceeded to tell me that they couldn’t eat beans and didn’t care for vegetables. All I had left at this point was, “Well then, I can understand why it could be difficult for you.”
I am really curious as to what some of the reason you have heard attached to, “I was vegan but…?” And even more so, how you have responded or wished you would have responded. Let me make myself clear right now. My intentions by asking this are not to make fun of people or even to put them down. I feel as vegans we are presented with this on a fairly regular basis. I also feel that if people are opening up and telling us this that at least part of them is hoping for a solution and/or a different take on their situation. As a group we can share information and ideas and be better equipped to answer people, without being too intense or laughing at them.
Everyone I know who is an ex-vegan is that way for health reasons, not because they lost compassion for animals. In every case, they got sick (or, more factually, feared they were getting sick); in every case, they either self-diagnosed a deficiency from being vegan or — and this is what steams me — a well-meaning-but-clueless health care practitioner told them that the root cause of their illness was veganism. In most cases, they were, indeed, nutritionally deficient vegans — if you don’t like/won’t eat vegetables, veganism can be very, very, hard. In some cases, going back to eating meat made them happier because they were no longer in an ostracized community of dietary weirdos, but could order anything off the menu. I love being vegan, but I cook almost every meal I consume. I love it and I eat a well-rounded, healthy diet. If I hated to cook and didn’t like vegetables, it would be torture.
I think people should go to nutritionist for dietary questions less then 25% of doctors (might be less) are trained in nutrition.
I work with a lot of college kids who attempt to go vegan and eat crap diets. I have handed out many books over the years on vegan nutrition. On of the worst cases that I saw five years later will still scream that a vegan diet is unhealthy, incapable of looking at how she may have gone about it wrong.
My family and I are transitioning slowly. Our main barriers now are time, finances, and a picky 4 year old. We both love vegetables and love to cook and have been very successful with lacto-ovo-vegetarianism since December. We plan to ditch the ovo next but need to make sure we compensate for the loss of B-12 and find a substitute for breakfast and snacks where we would use eggs as a quick and easy source of protein. We have not had a problem getting enough iron, protein, or other essential nutrients in our diets. As we go we have been careful to add things to our diet instead of focusing on taking things out, that way we have something we can fit into the spot of the “easy dinner” we used to throw together to prevent discouraging relapses into the frozen food section. My education in health and nutrition has helped us a lot, and actually enjoying vegetables or being willing to keep trying them until you do is a must.
Living in Seattle Vit D has been the hardest but only for me. My daughter and hubby are outside enough that they get it and keep good levels.
As someone who is trying to transform their diet to a raw vegan one, I find it very difficult to completely switch for various reasons. A huge reason is that I am a single mom whose kids spend half their time with their dad, a devout carnivore. My kids love veggies and we can eat vegetarian foods most of the time. But I won’t make them conform to a strict diet unless they are wanting and willing to join me. My ex and I don’t get along very well and any ammunition thrown his way would make life miserable. (Like trying to force a vegan diet on them). So the best place I can say I am in is a transition phase. The less meat and dairy I eat the closer I get to my goal. I appreciate that this blog doesn’t try to put people down for failing to live a fully vegan lifestyle. I think any direction towards veganism is a positive one and further encouraging people to eat less animal products will only help your cause. Thanks for listening.
I would never put people down. I want more people on our team and I feel like that the bully approach doesn’t work for that! I found raw to be hard, at least in the winter but I felt great when I did it for 30 days.
Yes, ex-vegans are notoriously vague when it com.es to actual facts
a number of years ago, a friend of mine gave up veganism, convinced it was making her unhealthy. she was working a job that had her driving around from place to place all day every day, and was mainly subsisting on whatever she could grab at convenience stores. (and always giving me reasons why my frequent suggestion of “bring your own healthy food in a cooler!” wouldnt work. ) so yeah, her diet was making her unhealthy, but the veganism wasnt really the offending part of the equation.
more recently, she has gone mostly vegan again, has a more stable desk-job at a workplace that is very vegan-friendly, and seems to be having a MUCH easier go of it.
That is great news!
I had a person ask me “Why are you doing this to yourself?” I gave my rudest comment ever – I said “Cos I listen to my heart and not my tongue”. The person said she would look into being vegan and she was for A DAY and said she cannot put herself through this. It is very sad that people give in to their temptation.
I think often people have a natural need to fit in and it they don’t have a large vegan support group it can be hard.
My reason was being in a homeless shelter and having to rely on other peoples food. but I am transitioning back to it.
Yeah! I hope it works out for you!
I travel for business weekly and eating vegan while on the road was very difficult. Ovo/lacto opens up a lot of possibilities but I am finding more and more vegan options. Things are improving.
It is constantly improving and the more people buy the more others will see there is a need for vegan options!
I love that you laughed out loud – that’s great. I realize it’s insensitive, but still.
I get asked the protein question a lot! Although I know the answer to this question, I fumble around my words when I get put on the spot with it. I like what my sis-in-law tells people when they ask her this question. She says ‘people don’t go to the hospital for protein deficiency , but lot of people go for cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity issues. I think her answer rocks! Celeste 🙂
That is an awesome response!!