Reasons for quitting veganism that seem dumb

October 19, 2010

I got hit with some ideas that wouldn’t leave my head last night: why is it that every time I think I’m talking about a reason people quit veganism that sounds totally made up to me (they’re based on fact, I promise, they just sound absurd) someone tells me they know someone who did exactly that? Are we choosing to miss out on real problems?

Really important: in the comments, let me know the strangest, hardest to explain reason that someone you know quit being vegan. Let’s see how much of a “freak occurrence” these things actually are and figure out if there’s something we’re doing wrong!

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Joshua Matthews October 20, 2010 at 1:02 am

Here’s a reason for someone who told me they’d stopped being vegetarian: “No reason.” A couple of months later they told me they were vegetarian again! Go figure!

One thing that bugs me is why people who know me, know I have no major problems with being vegan, understand the issues but don’t even give in a try. They say, “I respect you and congratulate your commitment but I couldn’t do it.”

Anothe reason is “I just felt like some X.”

Tamara Evans October 20, 2010 at 1:45 am

A co-worker of mine told me she used to be vegan but she loved bbq too much so she went back to eating meat. Another co-worker told me they didn’t understand why I am vegan and that “they just could live without eating meat.” I’ve also been told “animals are meant to be eaten and if we don’t eat them, they’ll eat us” which is probably the lamest excuse for eating meat ever. Of course my favorite excuse for not being vegan when I mention my discomfort with animal suffering is “how do you know that vegetables and fruit can’t feel?”

People can be so narrow minded sometimes.

Erin October 20, 2010 at 2:21 am

Oh, I have one! I remember when I was a teenager reading that Drew Barrymore gave up being vegetarian (but have since read that she was actually vegan) because she wanted to lose weight. You know, the movie star Drew Barrymore… Thin, skinny, movie star. The interview I read at the time said that she started running three miles a day and eating more “lean protein” to “get healthier” and that she had lost 30lbs. I was a teen veg at the time and it broke my heart.

I read something recently that was even worse though. It was a different interview in which she said she just didn’t want to have to avoid buying cute leather boots. Seriously? Boots? Then just don’t eat any meat and buy the boots and be a vegetarian. Why did boots make you eat meat?

Mirkat October 20, 2010 at 11:38 am

Not someone I know, but in January of 2009, Allyson Hannigan of How I Met Your Mother and formery of Buffy the Vampire Slayer did an interview when she was about six months pregnant. In the interview, she said that she had stopped being vegan because she’d found she craved meat and dairy. So she “had to” eat them. It’s a shame she assumed that the craving meant she needed those things and that she didn’t research the situation to look for alternatives to omnivory.

Jason October 20, 2010 at 11:48 am

It’s really weird when people tell us that they don’t think a vegan pregnancy is possible, when we’re standing there HOLDING A BABY. Lots of work need to be done.

And Erin and Mirkat, I’m going to defer to Colleen for a response about celebrities, because I like the way she says it (though I’m going to steal her response outright soon.)

Sayward October 20, 2010 at 1:07 pm

The pregnancy thing makes me so sad too. I knew a vegan who’s midwife suggested she add fish to ‘get more protein’. She didn’t question it, just up and did it. Of course within weeks she was full omni again. Why anyone would think it better to put all that junk into your *pregnant* *building a new person* body, is beyond me.

The craving thing is just silly. Pregnant women crave clay, dirt, and laundry detergent, too. Does that mean their body NEEDS!!1 these things? Yeah . . .

Jay October 20, 2010 at 1:07 pm

I had someone stop being vegan because “It’s not in style anymore, meat is.”

Erin October 20, 2010 at 4:34 pm

The thing about the pregnancy myth is that if you look at the “foods” pregnant women are supposed to avoid it’s: undercooked chicken or any food that may have cross contamination with undercooked or raw chicken (this is like the biggest cause of pregnant women getting sick), soft cheese, fish eaten regularly that has high mercury content, undercooked eggs, and lunch meat. Notice any problems for vegans? No.

As far as cravings go, every omni woman I know who has been pregnant said they couldn’t stand the smell/taste of meat for at least part of their pregnancy if not the whole time.

Colleen October 20, 2010 at 5:34 pm

Well, I did have someone tell me it was because their naturopath said they needed yoghurt…but that’s been discussed already! 🙂

As a former volunteer in a vegetarian resource centre, I’ve heard lots of crazy shit, but I think my favourite was the old blood type diet argument. Not sure what this woman was doing there, actually, as she was convinced that she had to eat meat now because she had type O blood. Anyway, she was discussing how anyone with type O blood would fade and die on a vegan diet, and in short order. I said that not only had the blood type diet been discredited but also that I was a several years, blood type O, vegan who’d never been healthier. This was echoed by the two other volunteers present (type O blood is, after all, very common). This woman would not budge. What I never got was why she was willing to so aggressively believe some JAG, even after I’d shown her some counter-evidence (which, admittedly, may also have come from a JAG; I can’t recall), and she’d just sat chatting with three very healthy vegan women! It’s not that I expected her to reconvert on the spot; but her certainty wasn’t shaken one bit.

As for my response to the celebrity spokesperson thing….I think I say a lot about that one, Jason; what precisely did you have in mind? 😉

Mel October 20, 2010 at 5:37 pm

I have been a vegan for almost 10 years, and recently gave birth to a very healthy baby boy after a very healthy pregnancy with no cravings whatsoever (apart from a distinct and sudden dislike of zucchini). The midwife recommended I see a dietitian, but I told her what I eat and she thought it was just fine.

Erin October 20, 2010 at 5:43 pm

Colleen, I’m type O also! I actually heard that recently because I was talking to a woman who had been vegan for over ten years and she started craving meat. She said she got the blood type book and was hoping she was the one that wasn’t supposed to be vegan so she could use that as her excuse! Turns out, she’s the type that is meant for veganism according to the book, so she powered through and now feels a lot better. She said it was a strange moment of weakness.

I have been trying to lose weight and read about the blood type thing, but if eating meat is my only answer I’ll be happy to be the jolly, chubby vegan to represent when people suggest we will fade away.

Colleen October 20, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Erin – ha, nice! I’m rather curvy myself and when I still did a lot of veg tabling I loved messing with people’s heads, who pretty much every day would claim that veganism was unhealthy and that all vegans are pale and thin. I’d just say, I’m vegan and not pale and my J-Lo bum begs to differ. They never had a response. 😉

Erin October 20, 2010 at 11:54 pm

Colleen, I had an ex from before I was veg who was always saying, “ALL vegans have dark circles under their eyes because they are so malnourished and lack iron.” He had a degree in biology, which I feel like someone should revoke for his lack of understanding in human biology. I would always say, “Really? All the vegans I know are the most active and nurtrition savvy people I’ve ever met. We live in such a small town, I wonder how we’ve each met such a different group of vegans.”

Kelly October 21, 2010 at 9:33 am

Oh darn, watching the video I was thinking “the guy that told me about the blood type diet!!!” but I see that’s a pretty common one! I was tabling for TVA & he came up to me (all 300+ lbs of him) & told me that he would be vegan, only it wasn’t possible because of his blood type. I wish I had known at the time that there were so many vegans I knew with O blood! I tried to convince him that the blood type diet is crap, in a nice way, but it would have been a much stronger argument to talk about all the healthy vegans I know with O blood. Although I do find that sometimes people want to hang on to an excuse, despite how ridiculous it is, like your woman Colleen.
My boss & my dad told me that they would go vegetarian/vegan but they unfortunately have to eat out at restaurants a lot for work, and when they’re with customers, it’s hard to have a strict diet (some men seem to have this “I need to have steak to show the customer what kind of man I am” kind of attitude). Anyway, my dad’s now retired so that argument has been thrown out the window.

Jason October 21, 2010 at 10:23 am

Thanks Kelly! I used to worry about the business meal, but it turns out beer is a great social equalizer. I can honestly see it being more of an issue for non-drinkers though, but it’ll get better when menu options are more varied and you can at least order food without asking 30 questions in front of your customer (calling ahead isn’t always an option for these things, sadly.)

Erin October 21, 2010 at 12:28 pm

Kelly, that’s basically my husband’s excuse too. He works on the North Slope of Alaska and lives in housing for two weeks at a time. They have no personal kitchen and there is no grocery store, so he is at the mercy of the cafeteria. He tries to eat as best he can, but veggies are covered in butter, and we’re allergic to milk. He has cystic fibrosis and has to make sure he eats LOTS of calories, so he can’t just eat salad or fruit all the time. His compromise is that when he’s home and DOES have the control, he is 100% vegan. Maybe you should suggest that alternative to people with this excuse. When you can, follow a vegan diet.

Laura P. October 21, 2010 at 1:01 pm

I had a friend who became vegan after reading a book I had laying around. At the time she was working at a fast food restaurant from 6 am- 2 pm each day to supplement her income. After becoming vegan she would eat nothing except a fruit cup on her break (the only vegan option at the restaurant) and would not eat real food until she got home after 2 pm. She didn’t even have any breakfast before leaving for work. Surprise…she felt terrible and said she nearly passed out multiple times. It’s not your vegan diet that’s the problem; it’s your lack of eating! Sadly, her lack of common sense killed her desire to be vegan. And, as with many ex-vegans, she not only resumed her mostly meat-free diet from before, but she became a full-on omnivore. She used to just eat fish occasionally, but now her freezer is full of all kinds of meat she never used to eat. And she is going around telling people than veganism is ok for some people (i.e., me) but for most people it is unhealthy. I try to repair the damage she does, but that doesn’t always happen.

Gwendolyn October 25, 2010 at 2:54 pm

Through tabling and cooking events the most common excuse that I hear is that the individuals leave veganism because the became ‘ill’. Almost everytime with a little prodding, it turns out they were eating vegan junk food, frozen food, or just bread and not getting a variety of foods or even exercising. But by the time you’ve exposed to them that it wasn’t veganism that was making them unhealthy, they’ve already moved on to another excuse. It seems that these people might never had really been vegan, they just bring it up to ease their guilt.

Nothing angers me more than the ‘god made animals for us to eat’ excuse. I usually respond with the compassionate religious standpoint, but it rarely works.

But by far the stupidest excuse I have ever heard was while doing surveys for academic research (so I couldn’t respond or else I might affect the subjects’ response). The woman take the survey got to a portion that asked about their environmental beliefs and dietary practices and she practically threw the clipboard at me, yelling that she hated vegans etc etc. Nearly frothing at the mouth she started yelling that she was saving the planet by eating cows because cow farts were causing global warming and vegans were destroying the planet because they were eating all the plants that would filter the co2.

Jason October 25, 2010 at 3:12 pm

Gwendolyn, that’s epic. I want to find this lady and give her a trophy of some sort.

Neva October 26, 2010 at 12:00 pm

A friend quit because he said it made it too hard for him to date. He was hetero as well, and I’m thinking “aren’t AR groups full of single women?” Sigh. Then he ate nothing but fast food and gained about 60 pounds–not that the extra weight made it hard to date or anything…

Karen November 8, 2010 at 8:41 pm

Seriously, who cares why someone decides to leave veganism behind? Many people dislike vegans because they tend to come across as pushy, judgmental, and pompous. I’m vegan because it’s right for ME. If everyone were the same, this world would be a boring place. Stay true to yourself and allow others to do the same.

Jason November 8, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Thanks Karen!

This year I decided that one of our problems is that not enough people care about why people leave veganism behind – our numbers haven’t grown, and people become vegan all the time, which means that lots of people are quitting. The more vegans there are, the more vegans there will be after that, but if the rest of the world knows more ex-vegans than vegans, the rest of us are going to be treated like we’re just in a phase, and really, we deserve better than that at the very least!

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