Dealing with tales of former vegans

November 22, 2010

Some story’s making the rounds about a vegan who became a former vegan:

In the video I say I’m not linking to the story because I don’t care, and that’s not totally true – I care about why people stop being vegan (it’s kind of why I’m here,) but I don’t care about an individual attention seeker. I’m just trying to make shorter videos, is all. And shorter posts, so forgive me for trivializing this person I’ve never heard of.

And the odds are, you haven’t heard of her either, but you’ve probably heard about some friend of a friend who stopped being vegan. Why is it so important for people to share these stories with you? Is it because they think you won’t last, or that they hope you won’t last, because that’d justify their life choices a bit more?

Also not mentioned in the video, but applicable: have people told you “you’ll be back” to eating meat later? My reply works equally well in that scenario.

So is it just me, or does this stuff happen to you too?

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Erin November 23, 2010 at 2:21 am

I read part of that essay, but not the whole thing. It was one of those where she talks about how her doctor “enlightened” her to how she was vitamin deprived due to her diet and she says she felt run down and awful.
I hear that more and more. Former vegans say they felt like they had no energy, and then a bite of steak perked them right up. I think that’s a good time to remind people how powerful our mind is, and how strong those connections with food can be. You’ve talked before about how we have a memory with a certain food and way we felt when we ate it. It’s powerful stuff.
Rationally, people must know that meat is not energizing, and cheese just slows your whole body down, but they overcome physiology with their minds and believe so strongly that they “need” animal products that they feel better when eating them.
It’s amazing stuff if you respect the power of the mind. It’s just too bad these people aren’t using that power to overcome unhealthy and inhumane cravings.

Matt November 23, 2010 at 8:39 am

Just another case of people being passive aggressive. If you need me to fail in order to justify your choices, come out and say it. If I’m feeling diplomatic or know the person I usually just offer my phone number–maybe the reformed vegan needs some quick advice from the community, because if I can do it and maintain my physical job, it must be a (vegan) cake walk. If I am not feeling as charitable, I just draw a comparison to other commonly failed committments, such as people overtraining for a run. If it is a family event I usually just point out my vegan children who are CONDSIDERABLY larger than their peers. It is frustrating, because a lot of people see being vegan as a chic coat to wear for awhile, and they are the ones who typically identify themselves as vegan as loudly and clearly as possible.

Jason November 23, 2010 at 8:58 am

Erin – totally agree about the mental links. I’d figure the “perk right up” is more from relief from not having to maintain a state that was inconsistent with their current beliefs, because that’s hard work – the question now is how to get their beliefs back on track?

Matt – way to go for offering the phone number. Our community gets (undeserved) flack for being overly critical and vegan policey, but the reality is that we want others to succeed and we’re all generally willing to help!

Jay November 23, 2010 at 9:00 am

When I first went vegan, people scoffed that it would be no time til I went back to meat. It’s been about.. five years now and I feel better than I ever did on meat. People try to discourage me with ‘facts’ shoved out by the meat industry in hopes to stop me from being vegan but I’m not fooled. I also find that this goes toward the people who claim they are vegan, but will eat food items with egg or milk.

I also have my smug sister who insists vegans have cholestrol in their diet and it’s not just meat because of something she read on the internet.

Uh my comment went far outside of the question but.. ^^; ehe.

Natalie November 23, 2010 at 9:12 am

Thanks for this post, ironically I read that tale last night just before bed and struggled with my feelings about it (and the person who posted it…..). Waking up to this post was great.

I try hard not to judge about anyone’s choices, but my issue was mainly the tone of the article which was “Sorry vegan friends, these are the facts….” The story, like anyone’s experience, was one person’s perceived experience with her (three-year) vegan diet and health at large. It was not about “Problems with veganism” in general as it was presented by someone (omni) posting it to me.

Erin November 24, 2010 at 1:27 pm
Jason November 24, 2010 at 1:28 pm

Oh snap, that’s well done.

Lauren November 29, 2010 at 4:04 pm

@erin Thanks for the link! I posted it on face book and I’ve got 2 “likes” from omnivores!


Jamel Armendariz June 30, 2012 at 2:33 am

I loved your blog article.Much thanks again. Awesome.

Melanie St. Ours July 5, 2012 at 1:55 pm

I’ve worked with this issue from a slightly different perspective. I’m a clinical herbalist, and my training is based in the traditions of Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Western Herbalism—all of which contain many teachings about the medicinal use of animal secretions, flesh, bones, and even feces! Add to this the predominance of the ideas of the Weston Price Foundation among many Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners, and it’s quite the sea to swim in! As herbalists, we’ve really learned about the sentience of plants, and this knowledge combined with the traditions of using animal products medicinally leads many herbalists to eat animal foods again after having been vegan or vegetarian for many years. It takes a lot of strength to challenge ourselves to learn new ways of meeting our needs nutritionally and medically. If you’re confronted by a practitioner who tells you that you “need to eat meat”, know that their opinion is informed by tradition and cultural practice—and a sincere desire to help you. But you’ve got to seek out practitioners who can address your concerns within your ethical framework. There are many of us out there!

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