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Apr 17, 2012 12:09 PM

The Challenge of Going Vegan

I'm curious whether people who try it find it manageable or if most give it up because of the challenges. The linked NY Times blog relates some anecdotal experiences. What's yours?

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  1. I was vegan for about 4 years, but living in the DC area made it pretty easy to handle. If I tried to do it now, living in SE CT, I'd have to eat almost every meal at home, unless I wanted to drive at least a half an hour. I did do a some cooking at home when I was vegan, but with my work schedule, I'd say about 75% of my meals were eaten out. Actually, my giving up veganism coincided with my move back up here...
    For a great look at the struggles and merits of a vegan diet, this month long journey tells it pretty well.

    1. I've done it at times and I don't find it hard, especially if you make food at home. My diet is often really restricted so when I've been vegan it's not been just vegan but vegan plus other restrictions and I've found it doable. Many restaurants can prepare a vegetable dish or you can put a few sides together to makes something decent. I think a lot of individual circumstances may make it harder or easier, so it really depends on a person's particular situation. I've never been a strict vegan in the sense that I took medications that had gelatin, etc. but as far as food and drinks I consumed I did not take in animal products to my knowledge. Cooking whole foods at home makes it pretty easy to know what's in your food.

      1. I've been vegetarian for about 20 years; I was vegan (other than honey - from below, looks like I'm not the only one) for about 16 years, and I still eat essentially a vegan diet except for small amounts of eggs from people who keep chickens locally and don't kill them for meat. I think it makes travel difficult, especially in countries where one doesn't speak the language, but I don't find it horribly difficult most of the time. It probably helps that I've lived on the coasts -- first in New Jersey / New York, and later in California.

        I think as far as sticking to the diet, for me, at least, it's important to be pretty strict (i.e,. don't let yourself cheat), and at the same time, to accept that you can't control everything. You will have to draw certain lines (beer / wine clarified with animal products? sugar that may have been processed using bone char, etc.).

        I think it also helps in terms of not feeling "deprived" to recognize that this is something you're doing by choice.

        3 Replies
        1. re: will47

          fwiw, Whole Foods carries Vegan sugar.
          i use it for myself and for my hummingbird feeder.

          1. re: westsidegal

            Sure, I always buy vegan sugars, but it's difficult to completely avoid refined sugar if you eat outside your home.

            1. re: will47

              Beet sugar is vegan. It's only some of the cane sugars that are not.

              Common brands:
              C&H and Domino sugar does use bone char in processing.

              Florida Crystals, Sucanat, and Sugar in the Raw doesnt.

              Bone char is not allowed in the processing of organic sugar, so if your sugar is organic, you're okay.

        2. I'm a vegetarian but closer to vegan than omnivore. I rarely consumer eggs and dairy, no gelatin, but I do use honey pretty often.

          For me, the challenge is more about out of sight, out of mind sort of thing. I could shop for a total vegan diet and stick to it. That's easy. What's not easy is that my DH is a diehard omni. He drinks 2 gallons of milk a week and loves eggs. Sometimes I find myself hungry, not wanting to cook or eat an over processed snack, and the cheese he insisted I buy just screams "protein!" Or cracking open an egg is easier than making up a flax egg.

          We've come to the agreement that meat won't be kept in the house. It's taken us 6 months to get to that point. I'm hoping to eliminate eggs next. If I take things slowly, he's less likely to fight back. By fight back, I mean feeding our lacto-intolerant 2 year old grilled cheese and giving him a cow's milk yogurt-eeeeeeeeek!

          3 Replies
          1. re: MamaCrunch

            I don't see why just because you choose a particular way of eating your husband should have to do it too, frankly. I think if he loves meat and has agreed to not have any in the house that is way cool.

            1. re: magiesmom

              I am in the same situation, so permit me to explain from the ethical perspective. I am bombarded by meat messaging every day, all day long, everywhere I go, including on my television. This is genuinely depressing. My husband does not have to eat my way when eating out, though it would be nice if he would (instead, he eats double meat on everything, as if he's trying to cancel out my contribution). But our home is lacto-ovo vegetarian due to a religious vow I made 24 years ago, which he hates, but tolerates (he knew about it when we dated, but thought he could convert me back somehow). Trying to have just one place in the world where you don't have to see/smell meat cooking and being eaten is so very hard, because all of his friends and family have asked him and me the same question, over and over again, "Since it's his house too, why do you not let him bring meat in for himself? He could use a second set of dishes, etc.." My answer? Because he has the entire world in which to eat meat, while I only have my home to guarantee me a small amount of peace away from the disgusting treatment and death of animals capable of feeling pain, who have their own wishes with regard to their own lives, and he would not respect "my" dishes versus his if he wanted to cook something. After he dies, my next husband WILL be a vegetarian or vegan, or I will die alone, because living in a mixed relationship sans real respect for the other's view is not healthy for either person.

            2. re: MamaCrunch

              if you're near a trader joe's the whole undertaking gets much easier. . .

            3. I eat honey nowadays (only organic or local), but otherwise have been vegan for nearly 20 years. Even when I was ovo-lacto I was ordering salads in restaurants much of the time, so for me that wasn't a big change. I do make pretty much all my own food, which means at least 45 minutes in the kitchen before work--I'm used to it, and could be more efficient if I did one big food prep day a week, but I'm bad at planning. Or something like that.

              I think that being committed before making the plunge is a necessity. Also, I made a slow transition (set a date several months in the future to "go vegan"), which I find is helpful for me with changes of all kinds. I definitely felt loads better after cutting out eggs and dairy, and if you make your own food it's no more expensive than any other way of eating--I've gone through some very economically tough times, and rice, beans, and veggies is about as cheap a diet as you can get.