Here’s what no one tells you about going vegan

Life becomes incredibly tough. Yeah, that’s what!

Photo by Julius David on Unsplash

Years of activism, protests, and outreach programs by Animal Rights groups have finally come to fruition. There’s been a massive rise in the number of flexitarians or vegan-curious recently. While animal activists are rejoicing, they still have miles to go, and know better than to rest on their laurels. They have after all, stood in all weather extremes, marched on the streets, gone naked, and have even doused themselves in (fake) blood on the streets, all to direct public attention towards the plight of farm animals. And they’ve been doing it since years together.

But just as quickly as the world is becoming receptive and opening up to the idea of plant-based diets, an increasing number of vegans are backtracking and quitting the movement altogether.

Here’s an excerpt from an article written by an ex-vegan which I found right here on Medium:

“It’s not surprising to me that many people are leaving veganism. There seems to be a pattern of former vegans falling back to eating animal products within 3–5 years. This trend is concerning as it indicates that for most people, the lifestyle is unsustainable long-term.”

You see. It’s one thing to go vegan. It’s something else to stay there.

I’ve myself been part of dozens of outreach programs conducted by the animal rights organizations in my city. And I’ve seen first hand how easy it is to guilt trip the common public, and schmooze them into veganism by telling them only about the good parts. Truth is, veganism is a massive pain in the butt. Especially if you live in India! (white people need to read that again).

Why do I say this? Because “India” is the number one selling point for Animal Rights activists. They cleverly fool people into believing the false ideology of the “vegetarian nation”, and it is quite likely that any high schooler would buy into their lies right on the spot; that practicing veganism is a breeze in India. It’s quite easy to get someone to believe something when they already possess an initial understanding of it. Especially when it’s a skewed notion of it.

What the innocent public fails to notice, is that there’s a continents difference between veganism and vegetarianism. In India, most food is not “inherently vegan” but vegetarian. Go to any roadside cafeteria and you’ll notice that at least half the menu is vegetarian or have vegetarian versions of dishes that can be served. While food at most places can be veganized, it usually requires tons of effort to do so.

How many people are ready to put in that kind of effort day in and day out all through their lives just to have a meal?

Imagine this. You’ll have to do a custom interrogation* on the waiter or food seller every time you sit down to a meal outside, no matter where you are in the world. Regardless of the place, the weather, the language, the culture, the surroundings, and whatever else applies to that place.

Can you do it? Sounds insane right? But that’s exactly what Animal Rights activists want you to do.

Scenario 1:

Picture this. You’re out with friends casually on a weekend. You’re done with your shopping and are looking to grab a bite after all that energy spent walking around stores bargaining. But guess what? Since your friends eat anything, they can dine at the next place they find interesting. You on the other hand, are left out in the lurch, fervently scratching your head for the next course of action. Yeah sure, you could eat some mediocre by-default vegan food which is bound to be available at whatever place they’re going to. Like heck, anyone would go vegan if they could feel satisfied by a banana and an apple.

But people have needs. They have wants. Many people eat emotionally! Some of us are introverts and hate talking to strangers, forget doing an interview with the waiter. There’s so many other aspects such as these that AR activists fail to consider while selling us the concept of veganism.

Yeah sure, there’s health food restaurants and organic joints everywhere nowadays. There’s tons of them in my city itself. But you know what? My set of friends don’t hang out at them. And let’s face it. Even the general non-vegan corpse munching public go to these joints only when they want some variety or are too sick to stomach the spicy stuff from their regular joints. Or worst case, when they’re on a diet.

Scenario 2:

Picture another hypothetical scenario for me just this one last time. You’re on a road trip with your friends, all of whom are either vegetarians or meat eaters. A week-long trip covering a few beautiful bucket list places in the country if you will. Whenever they get hungry, they can literally stop at the next Dhaba (an Indian version of a truck stop), or the next eatery and satisfy their hunger with whatever is available there. It may not be to their preference in terms of taste and cuisine, but they all knew that they’d have to make sacrifices on such things while travelling.

You, on the other hand. You have just two options. Skip the place they’re eating at and stop at a joint that’s vegan friendly further down the road, costing the group precious time. Or fry your brains out doing the entire interrogation thing with the waiter. What would you do? Think before answering. You’ve already crossed the half way mark for the trip, you’ve been doing the interrogation thing(or have been skipping meals) so far since all these days (which by the way failed on a couple of occasions). But today, you’re tired because of the strenuous adventure activity y’all took up in the afternoon, and haven’t slept a wink due to the early departure from your hotel in the morning. The last thing you want to do is talk to another stranger, forget doing an interrogation. What do you do?

See how dehumanizing veganism is? You’ll have to mandatorily make an effort in either one of these directions regardless of your state of mind, how you feel, or how tired you are. Do note the overlooked but formidable factors that will affect this decision:

And the cherry on the pudding: The Unforeseen Circumstance

5. You had a tire puncture/ you just got out of a mile long traffic pile up/ you were in an accident/ you’re stuck in a blizzard/ you survived a mugging attempt, I don’t know, *insert whatever unforeseen circumstance comes to mind here*.

Now tell me. Will you still stick to your guns when push comes to shove? You’ll have to possess the mental acuity of a monk to actually be unfazed by such situations!

“There is a tendency for vegans to be absolutist about everything. Eating meat = bad. I thought like this for a long time, but thinking about the world in these absolutes just doesn’t work. Life is complicated and we need to acknowledge this.”

You see, it’s all about frame of mind when it comes to dining out and travelling. Veganism presumes that you’ll always be ready to ask questions and be on your toes 24/7, regardless of whats going on in your life. Veganism doesn’t take into account the intricacies of living, your feelings and emotions, and the curve balls life throws at you. Being vegan is the equivalent of taking a baby along with you for the trip, attending to all its needs and wants, tolerating all its tantrums, putting up with all its shenanigans, finishing the trip, and still coming out victorious at the end without any major slip-ups. That’s what veganism is.

I’m not saying it’s not possible. I’m just giving it to you as it is, focussing specifically on the grey areas that Animal Rights activists never talk about. With that being said, I’ll continue to avoid animal products wherever I can, but not when it comes at the cost of my own sanity.

Absolutist veganism is definitely out of the question for me.

I don’t know about you guys.

*The Interrogation refers to a template of questions developed by 1st gen vegans for the purpose of dining at hotels and restaurants. This entails asking the waiter what items on the menu are vegan by default, what can be veganized if there isn’t anything that’s vegan, and finally providing them with a list of ingredients that should not be included in your food. Since most waiters do not understand what you mean when you say “the entire spectrum of dairy products”, you’ll have to spell out each and every ingredient separately to them. You’ll have to directly tell them that you don’t consume butter, curd, ghee, milk, cheese, or anything containing these items including any processed ingredients they might use in their cooking.

For example, coconut milk is vegan by default, but the powdered convenience pack available at stores has ‘milk solids’ added to it. To save on both time and money, restaurants will choose to use this instead of making their own coconut milk in-house. How can you then possibly be assured of a vegan meal if you don’t ask about these ingredients? Use this scenario now for any other ingredient you can think of, and imagine the sheer amount of trouble you’d have to go through just to veganize a meal at that point of time, regardless of how tired or stressed out your are.

I am an avid trekker, content writer, photographer and sports enthusiast. I write about trekking, society, overpopulation, lifestyle and veganism in general.