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Vegan Uncensored: “It’s Just Too Hard to Be Vegan”

photo credit: Getty Images

I know this week’s theme is about veganism being easy, but yeah – we know that already. Right? Uh, nope! How many freakin’ times have you heard “it’s just too hard to be/stay vegan?” One too many times if you ask me!

I’ll admit, the first few months – hell, even the first few years – can be a total crap shoot when you’re starting out. It can be challenging to find the good healthy foods, the good junkie foods, a decent support system among friends and family, and the right balance of all of them. But let’s face it, given all of the ah-maze-ing resources available these days: websites, blogs, veg events/expos, books, nutrition experts, cruelty-free clothing and accessories, meat and dairy alternatives (there are even vegan marshmallows for goodness sake), you have no excuse! The list of resources and alternatives are endless. And no, it’s not always more expensive to go meat-free so don’t even think about bringing that argument up. To say that it’s just too hard or that you just can’t do it, is total cah-rap.

Let’s break it down, shall we?

Resources:
I’m guessing the majority of you reading this are already vegan or at least vegetarian. Two thumbs up to you! But if you’re on the fence or still convinced that there isn’t enough help out there…all I have to say is “Google” (or “Lougle” for those who have seen Hot Tub Time Machine. You know who you are). One simple search (try: how to become vegan) will bring up more information than your wee little brain will be able to handle. There are literally hundreds (HUNDREDS!) of vegan bloggers in the blogosphere. Don’t believe me? Book a ticket to the Vida Vegan conference in Portland this August. You’ll meet at least 50 of ‘em in person! Oh, and let’s not forget the dozens of other veg expos/conferences that take place worldwide every year. If there were ever a place to gain even more resources and meet like-minded people, these events are it.

That’s not all – there are dozens of amazing vegan books available, on everything from how to only ever make vegan cupcakes, to preventing and reversing crazy things like diabetes and heart disease. There are even online cooking courses to help you through the ‘what the hell should I make tonight’ episodes - Spork Foods anyone?!

Traditional Food & Clothing Alternatives:
Are you ready? We’ve got vegan versions of, wait… ya know what? Honestly, it’ll just be a waste of my time to list out all of the vegan alternatives that exist for non-vegan foods and clothing items. We’ve pretty much got ‘em all. And if you can’t find them in any one of the thousands of stores across the country, you can buy almost anything online. I have a better idea, why don’t the readers leave a comment below telling our ‘on the fencers’ what your favorite alternatives are. We’ll make it a group effort!

Group/Family/Friends Support:
There’s an excuse that has always rubbed me in the worst way. “But my parents think I’m going to die from lack of protein.” Stop it. “But my friends call me a bunny rabbit and say that I only eat grass.” They could call you worse things. Get over it. The vegan community is nothing short of awesome. And aside from being able to spread the news about new vegan products faster than you can say “what the hell is kale?” we ban-together, we exist in droves, and we will take over. Err, I mean, and we will be here to support you, tell you that your family will figure out that it’s not just a phase, and that you can get new friends.

Why Did You Go Vegan in The First Place?
Last but not least, please oh please don’t lose sight of why you chose to go vegan in the first place. Was it for the adorable farm animals, for your unhealthy ass, or for the dwindling environment? Just sit for a minute and think about this: 1) you’ve got all the resources and support a person could possibly need when making such a transition, 2) non-dairy ice cream is actually quite fantastic, and 3) you did it for [insert that good-crazy passionate reason that drove you to vegan in the first place].

It’s easy, folks. Don’t say you can’t because we all know that you can. No matter what. Now buck up and eat your damn kale.

Vegan Uncensored is a weekly space on this blog where people can bring interesting topics of discussion to do with veganism to the fore. Read it, respond to it, pass it on to your friends – vegan and non-vegan –through Facebook, Twitter, or by sending them a link to this blog. Do you have a vegan issue you’d like tosee in this space? Email editor@veganmainstream.com.

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  • http://twitter.com/v3gan Vegan

    Great post! I find that many posts either act like veganism is so hard that we can’t really expect people to do it or, on the other hand, so easy that they completely dismiss people’s concerns without addressing them. I feel like all in all you did a good job of addressing the concerns here. You are right, there are a lot of great resources out there. It can be a challenge starting out because it is a big change (habits can be hard to break) and there are lots of unknowns, but there is a lot of support out there — at least online and in most cities. We (as vegans in general) do need to reach out more to rural and poorer areas, though, where many people do not have regular internet access. It definitely can be harder for them, so I have a lot of respect for people that make it work regardless of that.

  • http://twitter.com/ChristineLeigh1 Christine Leigh

    @Vegan

    I think this is a good article, but I think it might weigh a bit heavy on the “Being vegan is EASY” side, in that the concerns are addressed, but treated as though they are trivial and clearly easy to overcome, if-only-you-look-in-the-right-places.

    If someone is living with their family, what their folks think will be a greater struggle than someone who is living independently. If they share their food budget with someone else (let’s say, a spouse), there can be a real conflict that arises there.

    I think you make a fantastic point about veganism being easier for richer, urban areas. Heck, moving from Buffalo, NY to Seattle, WA made being vegan MUCH easier, and that was one urban area to another. I think as a community we’d need to address another privilege that affects class: time. If you have more leisure, you have more time to learn. I’m working on my PhD and all of the information requires, despite the proliferation of resources and books I’ve read, overwhelms me. I feel that despite being vegan for a year, I’m still finding out things that use animal products in their processing (like condoms. Really?! I never would have thought of that). I’m not sure what a great solution would be to that problem.

    I would take issue with the poster’s comment that “You can get new friends.” Encouraging disloyalty to people one cares about, in my opinion, is not necessarily going to help a political movement. It’s not that omnivores are terrible people, they may be inhibited or they may need to know that it can be done, or they may need a model.

    I actually didn’t struggle with a transition to veganism because I’m stubborn and used to people disagreeing with me, and I’m used to calling out things I think are wrong. But that makes me an outlier in American society, if it’s a norm in the vegan community. Political movements made of outliers are less likely to take hold, and more likely to be marginalized. I like this website because it’s making veganism more mainstream, but I think to reach out and open people’s minds, we may need to think more like omnis.

    Otherwise, great post!

  • Sarah

    You know… one of the main reasons I haven’t become vegan is because I don’t want to become a pretentious wanker like almost every other vegan (Also, don’t want to be friends with solely vegans for this reason)…

  • StevieGirl

    Great reply Christine! My main obstacle to going completely vegan is money and time. I’m physically exhausted as a CNA at a nursing home. I also have 3 cats, 3 dogs and 2 bunnies (all rescues) to care for at home. Honestly, I don’t have the umph it takes to prepare, research, find affordable and relatively quick alternatives to items with dairy in them. The reality for me is really financial and time feasibility. One of my favorite “cheap” meals is a cheese burrito. Beans are cheap, and so are the wheat flour tortillas. I can’t afford vegan cheese. I have to get whatever is on sale.

    so, as Christine elogquently explains: It is not EASY to ve vggan. I personally get a bit tired of intolerant vegans that do not seem to have much compassion for the realistic obstacles to leading a vegan lifestyle. I’d like support, not lectures!

  • StevieGirl

    My apologies for all of the typos folks. My computer’s acting wicky…….. I got to the bottom line and all of my words remained hidden but still posted in the box. It’s also almost 3:30 in the morning ~ LOL!

    Peace and Blessings

  • http://twitter.com/AndiHoone vegandi

    So leave off the cheese. I’m not being a smart ass, but you can easily, and cheaply, be vegan by eating whole foods and not all the processed, expensive analogs. If time is of concern, make a couple of different kinds of beans over the weekend and make quick meals with them throughout the week. I just made “tuna” salad for my husbands lunches using chick peas and kelp powder. It’s just a matter of getting organized. Make a meal plan. Cook big casseroles of vegetable lasagne and enchiladas (no cheese needed, or make your own tofu ricotta or cashew creme) and freeze individual servings. Same with soups.
    So, that’s my support. It can be done. And the longer you do it, the more like second nature it becomes. Good luck!

  • http://twitter.com/AndiHoone vegandi

    That’s too bad Sarah. I’ve come across A LOT more pretentious people who eat animals. You just need to do what you know is right and don’t worry so much about other people. Let’s look at the big picture, going vegan is obviously better for the animals, it’s better for the environment, and it’s better for your own health. If assholes keep you from doing things, you couldn’t do ANYTHING! Assholes are everywhere! You may think me one! But honestly, I’m only trying to sincerly help.

  • Sarah Husband

    I felt it was very hard to be vegan when I first became vegan.  Avoiding all those birthday cakes at work, the pizza joint just steps away from my office, and subway veggie patties used to be my favorite!  I also felt like I spent forever in the grocery store reading every label.  Now, having been vegan for years, it couldn’t be easier – I don’t have to think, I have all my favorite products that I already know are vegan, so I just throw stuff into my cart without thinking the same way I used to.  Once you get into a habit, get past all the ridiculous arguments from your family and friends, (basically they give up trying to change you back to not-vegan because they get tired/bored of the effort), its just natural like life was before.  Yep, its an effort for a few months to get into your groove, but it feels good to eat in a way that agrees with your core values.

  • dan27music

    I went vegetarian for a week, and then gradually shifted to vegan, but I was getting too hungry. I had to eat modest amount of meat otherwise get malnutrition. I want to try vegetarian again but I fear I may end up with malnutrition.

  • vmeditor

    Dan, thanks for sharing your experience here. It can be difficult when you are first transitioning to a vegetarian or vegan diet if that style of eating is completely different from how you are used to eating, but if you’re doing it right you should not be hungry, and definitely not malnourished! If you eat a good variety of vegetables, fruits, grains, beans and legumes and some nuts, you will be getting all the nutrition you need in a healthy vegan diet. The key is learning about what different foods you need to and can eat, and how to cook them so they are appetizing. Luckily there are MANY vegan food blogs out there that have wonderful recipes and information about vegan foods. It’s important that you get your nutritional information from a source you can trust. Two great sites I can recommend you get started with are pcrm.org and nutritionfacts.org. PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) has a fully supported 21-day vegan kickstart that they run from the first of every month. They give information, support, recipes, and more – you might want to check that out to get started. Another thing you might want to think about is checking into a vegan lifestyle coach, as a knowledgeable coach can help make the transition safe and a lot easier too. Good luck!

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