Truthfully, being a vegan has never been easier than it is today. 

With more and more people choosing to eat less meat and more plant foods, the options available to vegans has increased dramatically in the past few years alone.

But this doesn’t mean that sticking to a vegan diet doesn’t come with some significant challenges.

If you’re thinking of becoming a vegan or just starting out as a beginner you might want to read on to discover how you can overcome some of the challenges that inevitably come with committing to a plant-based diet.

If you’re a long-term vegan, we can bet you’ve dealt with some of these problems in your life-time. Make sure you let us know your experiences in the comments below!

Here are 10 of the most common struggles you’ll face on a vegan diet and how to overcome them.


1. Enduring Endless Questions

One of the biggest vegan struggles is enduring endless questions.

“Why aren’t you eating meat? Where do you get your protein? How do you do it? What CAN you eat?” 

This is one of the most common vegan struggles.

Be prepared for an avalanche of questions directed at you the moment it becomes clear that you’ve decided to become a vegan.

Humans are naturally inquisitive creatures and when a member of the tribe decides to do something out of the ordinary it can become a point of curiosity that inevitably sparks discussion.

Even if you want to keep your decision to be a vegan to yourself, questions will undoubtedly arise the moment you refuse offered food containing animal products.

You might have to field questions from your co-workers, your relatives, your friends, or even your doctor.

You can often use this to your advantage though and inspire others to eat more plant foods as well.

How to overcome this

Be prepared! Before you embark on any dietary change you should always do some research first.

Do some googling and see the positives vs. negatives of a vegan diet for yourself.

This way you will be able to field any questions that might come your way in relation to your diet without feeling flustered or unsure.


2. Needing To Become A Nutrition Nerd

As a vegan you'll need to become a nutrition nerd.

When you become a vegan you also sign up as a nutrition nerd.

You need to become an expert at reading nutrition labels so that you know that you’re not going to consume any unexpected nasties.

It also becomes necessary to have some knowledge around what plant foods are best to supplement the missing nutrients from animal foods.

You can and will thrive on a vegan diet as long as you’re nutritionally literate and understand what your body needs.

Luckily, this is one of the easiest vegan struggles to overcome thanks to technology.

How to overcome this

There are plenty of ways to overcome this if you don’t have a single nerdy bone in your body.

You don’t need to spend hours searching the scientific literature.

Here are some of our favourite hacks for making sure you’re meeting your nutritional needs on a vegan diet.

  • Use nutrition trackers such as cronometer.com. All you have to do is put the foods you consume on a daily basis into the app or website and it will calculate your daily intake of all essential nutrients. This allows you to see exactly what nutrients you might be lacking.
  • Use helpful apps such as fussyvegan and veganscanner to make the process of reading nutrition labels easier. These apps are designed to make your life as a vegan much simpler by taking the headache out of analysing nutrition labels. Simply scan the item in question and the app will tell you whether or not it’s vegan!
  • Stay up to date with the latest nutrition research with Dr Michael Greger’s website or YouTube Channel – nutritionfacts.org. Dr Greger produces short videos on the latest nutrition research so that you don’t have to spend the time searching through it. He also has an app called Dr Greger’s Daily Dozen which functions as a checklist for keeping you on track with your daily intake of key plant foods.


3. Being Instantly Stereotyped

One of the greatest vegan struggles is being instantly stereotyped.

If you ask a bunch of strangers about their opinions on vegans chances are you’ll be met with a ton of negative remarks and stereotypes.

Some of the more colourful names for vegans currently circulating the internet include: green-collared criminals, terrorists, nazis, psychopaths, and many more! Don’t believe us? Just google “vegans are…” and see what the most searched terms are!

Even if you’re not an animal rights activist, you’ll likely be met with some level of disdain at some point.

This is because the vegan diet is inherently tied to the animal rights movement and people can become instantly defensive as a result. 

Unfortunately, this is one of the most pervasive struggles of committing to a vegan diet.

How to overcome this

Unfortunately you can’t control the reactions of other people but you can control how you react to them.

If you encounter some particularly rude or aggressive people always try to keep calm and respectful.

Most people who resort to personal attacks are insecure or ashamed of their own behaviours and so they feel the need to bring others down to their level.

We have some great advice on how to deal with these types of people in our free Ultimate Social Survival Guide for Vegans – which you can download completely free right here.


4. Dealing With Cravings

Dealing with cravings is a struggle at the beginning of your vegan diet.

Dealing with cravings for your old food preferences is one of the greatest vegan struggles.

When you’re used to eating animal products all the time and then you suddenly switch to eating none at all, you will be hit at some stage with cravings for your old food choices.

This is a completely normal biological process.

Animal products are typically high in saturated fat and salt – two things that the body is biologically programmed to consume more of.

However, this doesn’t mean it should be our main source of these nutrients. In fact, the science largely says that we should be reducing our intake of animal products as much as possible due to the high saturated fat content and sodium. 

How to overcome this

There are tons of tactics you can try to reduce your cravings. Here are few you can try:

  • Reduce your exposure to tempting foods. Try not to put yourself in situations where you know you’ll be tempted to eat something you shouldn’t. For example, you can skip going down the sweets aisle if you know you’ll be tempted by your favourite dairy milk chocolate.
  • Distract yourself. Play a game on your phone, picture a white unicorn, or listen to some music. The less you focus on the craving the greater power you have to control it.
  • Get your stress levels under control. One of the biggest craving triggers is stress. When you’re feeling stressed your body releases a hormone called cortisol which signals to your body that you need more energy to prepare for flight or fight. This is why some people binge eat after a particularly bad day. Identify what is causing your stress and put a plan in place to manage it. This could mean re-evaluating your current circumstances or simply off-setting the stress with activities that are calming (e.g. yoga, meditation). 


5. Having Limited Options When Going Out

Having limited options when going out is one of the most common vegan struggles.

Although there are many more restaurants offering vegan options now than ever before, it can still be difficult as vegan dining out.

You might be invited to a birthday celebration at a local restaurant that has no vegan options or perhaps you might find yourself cringing at the unappetising salad that is your only option at a work brunch.

No matter where you live, you will likely encounter this scenario at some point as a vegan.

That’s why we included it on our list of the 10 most common vegan struggles you’ll likely encounter.

How to overcome this

There are a few things you can do to reduce your chances of this happening to you. They are as follows:

  • Be the organiser! If you organise the social event you can make sure that the venue chosen offers vegan-friendly options.
  • Eat before you go. If you’re certain that the venue of choice won’t have any vegan options then you can eat before you go and simply order some drinks. 
  • Modify your meal. If all else fails, you can ask the chef to leave out the meat or dairy product and see if they would be happy to accommodate. If you’re more conservative, you might be happy to simply remove the product yourself when it arrives.


6. Travelling

Travelling can be a headache for vegans.

One of the greatest struggles you’ll face on a vegan diet is travelling. Knowing where to find vegan options in a foreign city or country can be very difficult. Luckily, there are some things you can do to help overcome this.

How to overcome this

Travelling does not need to be a headache. Luckily, there are plenty of vegans all over the world who have encountered the same issue and there are now many ways you can make sure you aren’t forced to eat animal products on your journey.

  • Utilise helpful food finder apps. If you find yourself wandering the streets of a foreign city searching for a vegan-friendly establishment then the happycow app will be your new best friend. It locates all vegan and vegetarian friendly places within your radius.
  • Be prepared before you go. Make sure you do some research on your chosen destination. It can be considered impolite in some countries to modify foods so make sure you know what the eating etiquette rules are before you travel there.
  • Access the wisdom of others. Join a facebook group dedicated to vegan travellers, read some vegan travel blogs, and ask any of your vegan traveller friends. They’ll often have specific tips and tricks that they’ve picked up along the way on their adventures.


7. Being Tricked Into Eating Something That Isn’t Vegan

One of the greatest vegan struggles you'll encounter is accidentally eating something isn't vegan.

Unfortunately, this one happens a lot more than it should.

Many food companies have become very crafty with their advertisements towards the ever-growing vegan market.

Just because a burger is labelled plant-based does not automatically make it vegan.

We’ve seen lots of big restaurant chains do this recently and have personally been tricked by it ourselves – see our article 10 things we accidentally bought that weren’t vegan for the story.

You have to be very careful (especially when visiting a foreign country) as people have differing ideas of what vegan actually means. 

How to overcome this

There are some measures you can take to reduce your chances of being tricked into eating something that is not vegan. They are as follows:

  • Join a vegan facebook group. Your best source of information will be your fellow vegans. They will alert you to any products that have intentionally misled the consumer.
  • Ask questions. If you’re not 100% sure if something is vegan or not then ask a staff member.
  • Don’t trust a ‘vegan’ label. Always check the ingredients where possible. Some companies market their product as vegan but upon inspecting the ingredients you might find honey, milk, or eggs has been used.


8. Dealing With Body Changes

As a new vegan you will have to deal with body changes.

Dealing with body changes is another of the most common vegan struggles you’ll likely encounter.

When you change from a diet that contains a lot of animal products to a diet that contains none at all it is normal to expect some bodily changes to occur.

Animal products can have a lot of toxic effects on your body so it can take some time before you reap all the benefits of the vegan diet.

If you do stick to your decision though your body will definitely thank you for it. You can read more on the amazing health benefits that a vegan diet has on your body in our article How A Vegan Diet Can Stop Ageing.

Whether you experience some digestive discomfort, withdrawal headaches, or sharp cravings you will get through it if you follow the advice below.

How to overcome this

  • Understand it’s only temporary. Your body has to go through the process of removing the bad stuff to make way for the good stuff. The hardest part of any journey is the beginning. Once you make it over that hurdle you’ll come out the other side so much happier and healthier.
  • Learn as much as you can. You’re not the only person who has experienced a dietary transition. Read blog articles on the topic, watch YouTube videos, and listen to podcasts. Not sure where to begin? Get started on the right track with our article – How To Transition To A Vegan Diet.
  • Consult your doctor if you’re worried. Make sure you seek medical advice if you have any chronic abdominal pain or abnormal bowel movements.


9. Being A Burden

Sometimes vegans can unwittingly become a burden on others.

Another of the most common vegan struggles is unwittingly becoming a burden on other people.

Unfortunately society has conditioned most people to view vegans a certain way.

This means that you might encounter some situations where people treat you differently now that you’ve decided to become a vegan.

You might find that you’re not being invited to go out as often as you used to. Or you might be deliberately left out of food-related events because of your diet.

It sounds extreme but it definitely happens.

How to overcome this

  • Make your life easier by making other people’s lives easier. Try to reduce the burden of your dietary choices where possible. This could mean offering to bring something along to a social gathering or helping to organise it so that you have vegan options available.
  • Know when to pick your battles. Nobody likes a vegan who openly debates the ethics of meat eating at the dinner table. Always aim to be respectful and diplomatic when the topic arises and know when it’s appropriate to back down.
  • If all else fails, surround yourself with more like-minded people. Sometimes you just outgrow your current social group. Cut ties with them if they’re being particularly nasty or unaccepting of your diet and find yourself some friends who won’t bring you down.


10. Hating The Taste Of Fruits And Vegetables

Hating fruits and vegetables can be a significant struggle for vegans.

If you’re a beginner vegan, you might find yourself wondering whether you’ll be able to stick to the diet when you hate the taste of most fruits and vegetables.

If you were raised on a Western diet chances are you’re probably used to a lot of processed foods.

The problem with processed foods is that over time they can dull your taste buds and leave you craving foods with higher and higher levels of salt, sugar, and fat to satisfy those cravings.

When you switch to a plant-based diet most foods taste bland due your taste buds being so used to large amounts of the bad stuff.

But it’s really important to give them time to adjust to your diet. We promise fruits and vegetables begin to taste so much better once your taste buds have adjusted.

There were so many foods that we hated before going vegan that we now love because we’ve given our taste buds a chance to adjust.

How to overcome this

  • Replace at your own pace. Start by eliminating a few processed foods at a time and substituting them with healthier alternatives. For example, you might replace your favourite dairy milk chocolate with 70% cocoa dark chocolate). 
  • Give it at least 2 weeks (longer is even better). Don’t expect to go vegan overnight. Your taste buds typically regenerate every two weeks or so. Studies have shown that the less salt, sugar, and fat that we eat the more sensitive we become to it. So those berries you found bland a month ago suddenly become super sweet once you’ve cut down on processed sugar.
  • Don’t be afraid to re-try foods you once found repulsive. I (Lauren) used to absolutely loathe peanut butter as a child. I would instantly turn my nose up at it and even the smell made me cringe. Fast-forward to today and I can’t get enough of the stuff! You just need to give yourself a chance to love the foods you think you hate.


Summary

We hope you found this list of 10 struggles that you’ll face on a vegan diet useful.

If you’re tired of being the only vegan in the village then make sure you check out our completely free Ultimate Social Survival Guide for Vegans.

It contains tons of actionable advice and tips for dealing with the most difficult of social situations that vegans encounter. 

Be 100% prepared for that next social gathering with our useful scripts on exactly what you need to say.

If you’ve encountered any of these vegan struggles (or perhaps have any to add to the list!) then let us know in the comments below.

Free ultimate vegan social survival guide