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The trials of being a vegan

1. Most people don't know what it is and can't pronounce it.

2. It's hard to get a decent meal in a restaurant.

3. People who've heard you're a vegan expect you to be really thin when they meet you. Sorry!

4. People expect you to be humorless, strident, and out to convert them.

5. Vinyl shoes are hot, and canvas shoes don't go well with formal wear.

6. Reading small print makes your eyes hurt.

7. Sometimes when you're watching people eat meat, you get kind of queasy.

8. People think you're either depriving or abusing your child.

9. People think you're a radical, tree-hugging peacenik, which maybe you are, but still....

10. Your in-laws think you are strange. Hell, even your own family thinks you are strange!

11. Soymilk isn't served in public schools (at least not in South Carolina).

12. You go to dinner at someone's house. First they try to feed you fish, figuring somehow that fish is a vegetable. When that's politely turned down, they offer you the potatoes smothered in cheese and sour cream. When that still isn't acceptable to you, they rummage around in the fridge to find a head of lettuce for you to graze on. And you told them you were a vegan when they invited you!

13. It's hard to find a good wedding cake.

14. It's hard to make a good birthday cake for your child.

15. Your office parties are catered by Piggie Park (an actual barbeque place in S.C.).

16. You find the perfect blouse to go with your new skirt, only to read the label and find out it's silk!

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The following were contributed by Natalie Nigro, Author of the "Companion Guide to Healthy Cooking." 

17. Your friends tell you that a cheeseless pizza is not really a pizza and will not split one with you.

18. When you tell someone that you're a vegan, they tell you that they really want to eat healthier and then go into all the reasons(i.e., excuses) why its hard and they can't. But you weren't interested in having the conversation go that direction, and you can't seem to get them to get off it.

19. You might have to walk or drive a little further to visit a store or restaurant that has food you can eat.

20. The people you meet in health food stores are overly friendly.You can spend a lot of time there in facinating conversation...making the shopping trip take far too long.

The following were contributed by Megan B.
21. You go to a restaurant, and their veggie burger has milk in it.

22. You tell someone you're vegan, and then they offer you chocolate and cheese nachos!

23. In my gym class, we had a food guide thing, and there was not ONE alternative to meat listed. It was all animals in that group; there was no listing for nuts or beans or anything.

24. Lots of times I would be just standing somewhere, minding my own business, and a meat eater would come up to me and start arguing, saying that pork isn't cruel, blah blah blah!

25. Your teacher or a student asks if there are any vegetarians in the class, and you are the only one that puts your hand up.

26. I don't know any other veg*an students except this boy who says he does it because he doesn't like the taste of meat! I wish I had some veggie friends, other than the ones I have on the internet.

The following was contributed by Stephanie Carter.
27. It's really tiresome the zillionth time somebody asks you "What do you eat?" with that you-must-be-crazy look on their face.

The following were contributed by Jessica Parsons.
28. The lunch you bring to work becomes the topic of conversation...EVERY DAY!

29. Others feel driven to point out that vegetables are alive too!

30. Others feel driven to point it out every time they eat animal products in front of you.

31. You have to restrain yourself every time you hear "I couldn't do it" as the closing argument on every discussion of the merits of veganism.

32. People are insulted if you won't eat their food when visiting them, and think you're a hassle if you tell them what to cook for you.

33. Waiters will not be happy to see you.

34. People will never believe in their hearts (no matter how often you tell them) that you eat this way all the time, even at home. (After all, you can't live without meat, can you?)

The following were contributed by *kim*.
35. Because when you say you're veg, people always scream, "But the cows would take over the earth if we didn't eat them!"

36. Because my economy teacher said, "It is obvious that a plant-based diet is good for health and the environment, but the economy would suffer greatly and people would lose their jobs if everyone stopped eating meat."

37. Because my uncle tells me, "If we didn't hunt, more deer would die from starvation, and anyone who thinks differently is IGNORANT."

The following were contributed by Tom ZC:
38. People assume you despise football. (Okay, so a football's not vegan, but I love the sport and I'm in favor of the NFL switching to synthetic footballs.)

39. Chances of the NFL switching to synthetic footballs are slim indeed.

40. Some vegans hate my fake leather (although I don't object to all the fake pain required to produce it).

41. People assume you'll be offended by every little thing.

42. People assume I must be for anarchy -- and that they know what all my political ideas are.

The following were contributed by aquagirl.
43. you fly in to meet the in-laws for christmas and your mother in law has (after being reminded beforehand) decided to forget what "vegan" means and serves an opulent spread of roast chicken, a ham, mashed potatoes with plenty of milk and butter, sweet potato pie with ice cream (the pie has condensed milk in it) and some sort of cake (eggs) and cocacola and wine to wash the whole mess down. then she watches you closely and asks you why you are not eating her food.

44. due to your vegan, non-violence philosophy you must restrain yourself from strangling your co-worker when he tells the "screaming tomatoes" joke for the fifteenth time.

45. you are trying to have a conversation with someone who talks very softly and has just eaten a plate of barbeque.

46. people assume you are vegan because you are trying to lose weight. then they say, "lean chicken is the ticket! remember, lean chicken!"

47. your friends become instant experts on veganism (after all, they know YOU right?) and try to order for you in restaurants. i will not discuss the eggplant parmesana incident at this time.

48. once you have mentioned that you are a vegan in polite conversation, suddenly people back away from you the way they do when avoiding the salvation army ladies. actually this isn't so bad if you're trying to get onto the subway.

49. there is never anything to eat at your friend's house whenever you're over. you know you're desperate when that wedge of iceberg lettuce starts to taste good. uh, with no dressing since all they have is green goddess.

50. you just got into the biggest fight with your(meat-eating) significant other (a fight which both of you now regret) and in the spirit of reconciliation he/she makes you a nice big plate of macaroni and cheese and sets it down with a salad dressed with ranch dressing. what do you say? do you eat it?

51. you can't really admit to your meat-eating friends that you don't like carrots, peas, or dill when they offer you their only vegan dish of the night which is of course, steamed carrots with baby peas and lots of their homegrown,organic dill.

52. after getting to know you for your sparkling personality (not to mention stunning good looks) people act stunned and tricked when you finally get around to mentioning you're a vegan. you desperately try to think of a good attention-grabbing remark to fill the awkward silence. it's times like these when i wish i was gay.

53. at the local health food store you frequent, they all know you're a vegan and this is great until you accidentally wear your tattered "I Want My Jagermeister, Mister!" t-shirt which you had meant to throw away but that's such a waste and it was too old to donate...

54. after becoming a vegan, you feel healthier; need less sleep, and are able to tackle any challenge that comes your way. in other words, you are no longer the lazy, procrastinating pig that your friends and family have grown to know and tolerate.

55. after hearing you're a vegan, people think you are some sort of militant, scary fanatic who exudes ulterior motives in every sentence. they don't seem to understand when you tell them you were like that before you became a vegan...

The following were contributed by Jessica.
56. People are always asking "Well, do you eat chicken/beef broth?"

57. When people say "Oh, that's right. You're a vegetarian now," and then mumble "(name of person) is just trying to make it difficult for me to cook !!!"

The following was contributed by Katj2:
58. If I hear one more time that I am taking food away from the bunnies (lettuce) one more time....

The following were contributed by Staca:
59. People think that if you don't eat meat, eggs, or dairy that you must have some kind of eating disorder.

60. People think that you must be anemic or have some other sickness if you're vegan. You just can't be getting proper nutrition! They keep pointing out, "You look kind of pale today" or "You look tired" or "Are you feeling okay? Are you really feeling okay?" (I had a college doctor who insisted that I had to eat meat and eggs to stay healthy.)

61. Someone goes out of their way to fix a nice vegan meal: tofu dipped in egg, breaded, and fried and smothered with cheese.

62. The only vegetarian choices at the college cafeteria or local restaurant are vegetarian lasagna, salad from the salad bar (just how much salad can one person eat?), and possibly a veggie burger (usually made with milk, egg, orcheese in it).

The following were contributed by Amy:
63. Your best friend decides that your food choices are ALL ABOUT HER, and announces that you've made it "too hard to eat with you".

64. Someone you work with ACTUALLY SAYS (and, no, I'm not kidding), "You can't be vegetarian and healthy." And while you're trying to get over the shock of this statement, he adds, "Vegetarians eat too many vegetables." (I had no idea there was such a thing.)

65. You are tired of hearing people say, "Vegetarians can't possibly get enough to eat," because then you have to assure them that your Weight Watchers leader would be happy to tell them that we manage to do just fine. :)

66. People assume that being vegetarian means you don't do anything unhealthy, like eat chocolate or drink, so when you do those things, they act all shocked. (But nobody's shocked when your meat eating friend smokes...Hmmmm...)

67. People you eat out with get exasperated when you try to determine what exactly is in the food you are ordering. (If it were an allergy, it would be fine, but since it's a choice, it's weird.)

68. When you have the gall to ask if people coming to a potluck at your house could leave the meat at their homes since you haven't had meat in your home in over a year, they actually make fun of you. Even though you promised to supply a very yummy pasta dish that they would all love. (Yes, actually made fun. How rude.)

69. You are tired of your vegetarian lifestyle being the big topic of conversation at EVERY business dinner you ever attend.

70. When the client you are working for hears you are vegetarian, he says,"Oh, what about your husband. Is he normal?"

71. When the neighbor found out you were vegetarian after inviting you to a barbecue, he now thinks it's funny to announce to you every time he's cooking some sort of steak, roast, lamb, or ribs for his family.

72. Your grandmother, after hearing you are a vegetarian, (1) tries to sneak some lamb into your food, because she knows that if you just tasted it, you'd realize meat was okay, (2) sends you her heirloom mink coat because she wants to convince you that using animals for our own purposes is okay, (3) decides that because you buy only cosmetics not tested on animals that you hold monkeys in higher regard than humans. (Don't ask me. It's all Grandma Logic (TM), which I have never understood.)

73. People just don't understand that caring for animals doesn't mean you think they're more important than humans, just that they are AS important.

The following was contributed by Charlie:
74. It is really annoying when you get done with The Lord of the Flies and your English teacher says he doesn't know how they lived for so long without meat.

The following were contributed by Darcy:
75. When using a search engine for vegetarian recipes, you come across sites for homemade..SAUSAGE!!!

76. Your carnivorous child comes home from a week with grandma, smiling fiendishly and carrying a large bag of ..STEAKS!!

77.Having my grandmother call me long distance from her deathbed, asking me to please eat..MEATLOAF!!

78. Going out to dinner with your children and have them shout in chorus to the waiter "Mom is a vegetarian"

79. Being introduced to your children's friends (by your children) as "This is my mom, she is a vegetarian and she doesn't play video games" although I think the kids are more shocked by my not playing videos.

80. Having my youngest ask me if I want his vegetables.

The following were contributed by Hvnlystarz:
81. when i tell someone that i don't eat anything with a face and they sarcastically reply "well potatoes have eyes and lettuce has a head."

82.the ever popular question "well what DO you eat?" and then i go off on all the yummy foods i eat and they look at me like they feel sorry that i have to resort to tofu (i love tofu!)

83. it never fails that guys always get offended that you don't eat meat if you are a girl and try to tell you that you are malnourished- and if you are a guyvegan then you must be gay

84. that cows like to be milked (would YOU liked to be milked by a different species and separated from your young after they are born?)

85. the constant quizzing of what you do and do not eat--as though these people that just found out you are vegan are going to somehow find a loop hole where you actually aren't and you just didn't know it.

The following was submitted by Alia:
86. One of the most irritating comments addressed to me is "isn't it cruel not to milk the cows, though?"

The following was contributed by Cat:
87. Tofu "egg salad" is a poor substitute. And after 12 years of being vegan I still crave egg salad. I know it's crazy, but I can't help it. I sit there and think well I'll cheat just this once. Who's going to know? Then of course I shlep off to the tofu section one more time.

The following were contributed by Bob:
88. My cats refuse to give up meat or milk.

89. Fast food is rarely an option.

90. I'm quickly outgrowing the leather jacket I bought before I became vegan,and dread having to replace it.

91. My French teacher forces the class to watch videos of the Paris marketplaces. I sense that this is a good time to ask to use the restroom....

The following were submitted by Chandra:
92. The vegetarian option at the restaurant is a grilled cheese sandwich, grilled on the same grill they're grilling the burgers & steaks on.

93. Relatives who bring Kentucky Fried Chicken over when I invite them over for a meal.

94. Always having to answer "Why don't you eat meat?" In spite of all the reasons I could cite, the truth is that I just don't want to, and I shouldn't have to justify it every day of my life.

95. Being told "You can pick the meat off." In exasperation, I once replied,"Well, for me that would be the same as if I crapped on your food and told you you could just pick it off. Would you?"

The following were contributed by Ajudge:
96. You think that you are the last of the unicorns, and your heart flutters whenever someone says the word "vegan". You think, "Maybe there are others out there..."

97. You are afraid to give any bad impressions, because everyone you meet will tell somebody else, "I met a vegan once. She seemed weary and unhappy to me." They'll conveniently forget that you just ran two blocks to catch a school bus that left early.

98. I occasionally meet people who "used to be vegetarian" but "outgrew it" (ie. began to find it inconvenient).

99. I've come to realize that just because someone claims to be a vegetarian doesn't mean that they actually are. They just eat a lot of vegetables, and somehow don't associate chicken and fish with "meat".

100. You meet a vegetarian who is insincere or instable and realize they are falsely representing "your kind" to all that they meet.

101. When people tell you that they are "nearly vegetarian" you know that you are about to sit through a number of dishes and/or edible products that they love, and can't name half the ingredients in.

102. You feel like you should have a memorized index of recipes, environmental statistics and health facts to draw on in every conversation. How many omnivores get asked what their typical meals are? And how many of them are quizzed on their balance of nutrients or eating ethics?

103. You are expected to be an authority on all types of health concerns and special diet restrictions. "Oh, you're a strict vegetarian. Do you know what causes acne?" or "What can I give my celiac and lactose intolerant daughter to snack on?" Hey, I'd love to have all the answers, but alas, I do not (yet).

The following were submitted by Jennifer:
104. The way my grandpa always asks "So when are you eating meat again?"

105. The fact I'm 14 and already worried about my future mate's eating habits.

106. Asking my mom "What's for dinner?" and having her answer "We're having steak. What are you having?"

107. The fact I spend twice as much time defending my diet than eating it.

108. The way I spend hours defending my diet, but if I'm invited to have dinner at a diet debater's house, they forget to tell the cook, so it's another night of rolls and salad.

109. The way my friends roll their eyes when I whip out "The List", My list of animal derived products.

110. Actual conversation: Friend: why don't you just eat meat? Me: "Animals are our friends, and I don't eat my friends" (*That's George Bernard Shaw, folks) You can't say you're a friend of animals and then eat a hamburger. Friend: Well, plants give us oxygen. So if you eat plants, that must mean you don't like to breathe. No sarcastic comment necessary.

111. The only semi-plausible reason to eat meat the carnivores have come up with (Because Yes, I get enough protein and No, I am not going to die) is because it "Tastes good" (tastes like murder, and they do make fake meat) By that logic, I should be able to rob them; it's fun. A little selfish, to say the least.

112. The fact it may occur to those slow-witted carnivores to sing: "Oh, I wish you'd eat an Oscar Meyer wiener..."

The following were contributed by Elizabeth
113. It would be easier to announce that you were gay or had abandoned religion than to refuse meat.

114. Your family insists upon calling Gardenburgers "Stinkyburgers"

115. In order to keep from ingesting meat, it becomes necessary to hide it in your socks at mealtimes. (True!)

116. All sorts of ignorant people insist it is impossible to lead a healthy, productive life without consuming meat products even when they know that people like billionaire and Apple cofounder Steve Jobs are vegan.

117. Your friends introduce you as a vegetarian sometimes before your name is even mentioned.

118. Your employer has Chik-Fil-A cater lunch for everyone and can't understand why you didn't "just eat it this once" instead of taking a break to get real food.

119. The inhabitants of this world will never be equipped to accept people with unpopular lifestyles.

The following were contributed by emily:
120. All of the girls in your gym class make it a daily ritual to sing the Spam song in the locker room. "I like bread and butter...Hey, Emily, why aren't you singing?

121. You wish that Dairy Queen sold Toffuti.

122. People in your church (or mosque, synagogue, temple, etc.) tell you that "God told us to eat meat."

123. The only other vegetarian present eats gelatin and products that contain it. (Eewww!)

The following were contributed by Simone:
124. When your mother stares strangely at your bowl of fruit because you declined her offer to pour milk over it.

125. When she then goes on her rampage about how horrible soymilk and rice milk tasted to her. I repeatedly tell her that no one is forcing her to drink soy milk. I didn't like it at first either but now I love it.

126. When every meal ends with some joke about the meal we ate because I was there. Comments like "MMM that was good 'vegetarian' spaghetti!"

127. When your mother says "people who eat only plant foods die!" Gee! At that rate I should have been dead months ago instead of alive and healthier as I am today!

128. When your stomach growls at the table and your brother-inn-law (who is a hunter! we won't even get into that!) says your stomach is telling you that it needs some chicken in it.

130. When the same people ask you "when will you start eating meat again?" each and every time you see them. Their mouths always drop when you tell them "NEVER!"

The following are personal experiences of Peter Nagy, Slovak Republic:
  • Learn to explain clearly to waiters what do you want. Then learn to reject politely what they bring to you. Then learn to cook.
  • Pick some of your friends you will give your old (even vegetarian) cookbooks.
  • Study eastern philosophy, animal rights, agriculture and medicine. You will need it in your future conversation.
132. For the sake of not to feel offended or bored with the same questions and jokes, learn to give surprising answers to the question of why you are vegan:
  • "It was my grandmother's last wish on her death-bed."
  • "All people are vegan. Some just eat animal products still."
  • "I want to get into Guinness' Records Book with the lowest cholesterol level."
  • "My doc advised me to eat this diet in order to live with this bottle of vodka and 60 cigarettes daily, you know."
  • "I tried to force my dog not to beg at every meal. And I got used to this diet."

The following were sent in by Caroline:
133. Business lunches and dinners are hell because:
  • 8 to 12 people become completely silent and stare at you when it's your turn to order because they want to hear just what it is you've found to eat.
  • There isn't any room left on the wait person's order form for anyone else's order because of all the special handling and description your order required.
  • When the food arrives, eight to 12 people become simultaneously shifty-eyed to try to see what you're getting (without appearing to look like they're trying to see what you're getting).

The following were contributed by Beverly:
134. Because when you tell them you are a vegan in a hospital they will bring you turkey and say, "Some vegetarians eat turkey."

135. Because when you are in the hospital some idiot "nutritionist" will come and badger you about the way you eat, quoting nonsense from the first edition of Diet for a Small Planet.

136. Because throwing "food" out of your hospital room's door when they bring you bacon and eggs for breakfast upsets the staff. (True, after the third time I told them NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS.)

137. Because you can't stand telling one more person that Jell-O is an animal product and having them say, "Oh no it's not."

The following were submitted by Alec:
138. you hear about once or twice a night from your mother "You're on your own...I'll support a vegetarian diet happily but not vegan. You guys are extremists."

139. theres no time left before the bus comes so you grab an apple or a bag of chips and when you are seen eating them you get comments such as "THAT'S why I could never be vegan....look what shes eating" or "I'd offer you some of my lunch but...."

140. your friend who happily turned vegetarian with you now thinks you are crazy.

141. having to go to friends' houses later at night and eating so much food that you will be able to survive until you leave the next day.

142. proudly advertising that you are vegan in ways such as wearing pins on your backpack and then having to listen to people read them "silently" to themselves then comment "in hushed voices" about what they think.

143. you get such bizare questions and comments that are in some nature sticking up for meat/dairy/egg eating and being so baffled that you can't think of anything to say in return except "huh" at which point they think they have won the debate.

144. having resorted to carrying around a list of why I am vegan and common questions with answers so that if anyone asks me anything involving my diet choice I can just hand it to them then casually ask them when they are done if there are any points that they find unclear.

145. having teachers announce that there will be a treat if you do ______when you know the "treat" will be ice cream or something of that nature. especially when it ends up that the class will be getting the treat while you get to sit and watch them stuff their mouths.

146. the real meaning when you hear someone say....

  • my parents won't let me= i'm not motivated enough
  • it tastes good= i don't care about anyone but me me and only me
  • it's unhealthy= this is what my parents have told me
  • i tried it but i got real sick= (used about the vegetarian diet) they ate only dairy
  • i could never give up my meat let alone dairy!= see it tastes good

147. excitedly scanning a yummy looking snack.....excitement growing...then at the very bottom of the ingredients seeing "may contain 2% or less of whey."

This page was assembled by Susan Voisin, who enjoys being a vegan but who recognizes the challenges involved.


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Last updated February 14, 2000