Struggling for new recipes? Think it’s easier to go back to old habits? Forgotten the benefits of veganism completely? Hold on – we’re here to help!
It might feel like you’re surrounded by beautiful vegan souls who took the plunge and became plant-based saints overnight — this is rarely the case.
Everyone has slip ups, everyone has pushy friends and family that are just desperate for them to try a piece of the homemade meat and dairy-laden dish (“but you’ve always loved lasagne!”), and everyone’s been stuck somewhere without a vegan snack in sight.
This doesn’t mean you should pack it all in and start back on the animal products though. It’s time to implement some perspective, a little bit of planning, and a heck of a lot of perseverance to get you to that phase where life is absolutely perfect without an ounce of animal product in sight — it’s possible, we promise.
Here are some reasons you might want to give up and how to overcome them…
You went vegan for health reasons
Just like any diet, week 1 felt awesome and exciting, week 2 involved a couple of minor slip-ups, and midway through week 3, you found yourself gorging on a cheeseboard.
The thing is, you’re missing that all-important why if you’ve gone vegan just to “get healthy”. To make such a big lifestyle change, there’s got to be a really significant reason for you to stick to it.
For example, reducing the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol you eat to lessen your risk of heart disease and early death might be a pretty HUGE reason for a middle-aged man, but perhaps not a woman in her twenties looking to lose a few pounds. This is when you need to look elsewhere for your “why”.
There’s no doubt that eating lots of greens and cutting out the saturated fats from meat and dairy will do good things, but is this enough of a reason for you to stick at this permanently? The answer is yes – because everyone can benefit health-wise from plant-based nutrition, regardless of your sex or age. It might be worth expanding on your reasons why by doing a little research.
Get watching documentaries and reading articles for the ethical and environmental reasons behind being a vegan to see if this can keep you focused. You might find that your new knowledge on animal suffering and environmental impact will put you off eating meat. That would be your new why.
Can’t connect with animal suffering? It’s easy to feel disconnected from animal suffering if you’ve never seen it, so you could try visiting a farm too. It might feel good to tell your kids in 30 years that you were one of the people who really tried to make a difference.
Related article: 6 Ways Veganism Helps the Environment
You’re struggling for support
This is a tough one, as you don’t want World War 3 to break out between you and your family or friends. It might take your loved ones a little bit of time to come around to the new you, but that doesn’t mean you should pack it in.
Every vegan will be questioned and teased — this is your chance to prove the stereotypes wrong and educate. If you’re finding it really tough, then you might want to explain (politely) it to them that it’s not that you’re being a fussy eater, but because your beliefs prevent you from being able to eat animal products.
This changes their perspective from it being a problem with food to it being something that should be respected. Sticking it out will also make people take you seriously and respect you for your dedication — another reason to keep it up.
You can also look at this as a great way to educate your family and friends. Banish their ideas that vegan dishes are boring by cooking them delicious meals and desserts. Show them that you can be strong and healthy and definitely get plenty of protein. Take people’s questions and jokes as a chance to influence others to make a change, however small, rather than a personal dig against your lifestyle.
Thankfully, veganism is becoming increasingly popular and more accepted, and there are great communities such as our very own Myvegan community to support you and share tips.
Related article: How Easy is it to Go Vegan | Leah’s Story
This one is becoming less relevant with all the new tasty plant-based snacks and restaurant options available nowadays. However, if there’s a day out coming up and you’re unsure where your food will come from, then that’s still not the end of the world. Plan ahead and take something with you, or do a little research to see if there’s anything you can have from shops, cafes, and restaurants that are nearby.
It may be more convenient to pick up that ham sandwich, but this is where your extra research comes in again. Remind yourself of the reality of where that kind of food has come from by educating yourself more deeply. This will guide your choices to why you want to prep a snack to take with you, or go for the vegan options. You might immediately be drawn to the foods you were previously used to, but if you have a little look you will soon discover the huge range of vegan options that are now available, and they taste great!
Not knowing what to cook
There are SO MANY amazing vegan cookbooks, online recipes (check out some of ours here!), and Instagram/Pinterest accounts out there for education and inspiration that this shouldn’t even be a problem. Want to cook something extravagant, or need something quick and cheap? There’s a cookbook for both and so much more.
This is a great opportunity to learn new dishes and try different flavours — use it as an excuse to fall in love with food. Yes, it may take a bit of effort at first, but once you have your repertoire, you’ll have a recipe for those nights where you want something comforting all the way through to the most experimental and colourful of dishes.
Eating out struggles
Plenty of restaurants have a vegan option, or can whip something up if you ask ahead. Quite often you might be able to ask for a vegetarian dish without the dairy. Check out the menu online, or contact the restaurant directly.
It’ll take 5 minutes, can save time when you get there, and means you can enjoy the experience rather than focusing on finding more than fries and a salad that you can eat off the menu. If it’s a last-minute meal out, then get creative with some side dishes — grab some rice, veggies, and sauces, or see if the restaurant can make you something a little different.
Going to social events
Terrified of turning up to a barbecue for carnivores with only a pot of hummus and a few carrots to tide you over? It’s time to offer to take a few dishes — they might turn you down and offer to make something for you which is even better.
Think of this as another opportunity to educate. Test out your kitchen skills and throw together some vegan burgers, delicious pasta salads, and awesome vegan alternatives for the dishes everyone else will be having. People are bound to want to try yours to compare, which might spark some partial, or even full-on converts.
If it’s a dinner party, offer to help out — it’s all about making the experience a positive one for everyone, including you. If you sit at home afraid to go out in case you feel a bit awkward, then your friends will never have their eyes opened to the wonderful world of plant-based and you’ll always be the only vegan you know.
If you’re the only vegan at the table, then you’re going to stand out a bit when you only order plants at a steak restaurant, but don’t let this put you off. People will soon realise you’re still the same Steve who loves watching the footie, bakes awesome cookies, and snorts when he laughs — just with added morals.
Unless you’re marching at the front of a vegan demonstration with people hurling abuse (which if you’re reading this, you’re probably not…) then you really should stop worrying about strangers hating on you too.
You might get the odd joke from Uncle Bill who’s eaten meat for the past 70 years and is “perfectly healthy minus the minor heart attack last Spring”, but you shouldn’t let this get to you. Either laugh with them, or shut them up with a handy vegan fact.
Forgive yourself for slip ups
This is by far the most important – veganism is all about being compassionate, so don’t punish yourself for slip ups, but try to build on them. By coming up with creative ways to deal with different situations and expanding your knowledge on animal welfare, the environment, and ethics, you’re only going to grow as a person.
Also, it’s only going to get easier. You’ll get used to what you can and can’t have, as well as discover amazing new flavours and foods you didn’t know existed before you went vegan. You’ll also grow a thicker skin for the people who will never agree with you.
You’ll become a pro chef (maybe) and an amazing advocate for being a strong and healthy vegan. Remember, you started for a reason, so keep that reason at the front of every choice you make and you’ll find yourself living with purpose.