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January 14, 2022 5 min read

The switch toa vegan diet can provide your body with loads of nutrients, lower weight gain, and reduce the chance of heart disease (a leading cause of death among people,especially in the U.S.

However, as many vegans and aspiring vegans surely know, the switch from omnivore to herbivore is a real challenge. There are both mental and physical obstacles one must overcome in order to truly commit to a lifestyle in which you no longer consume or use animal products of any kind. With a purely plant-based approach to life, there are social and economic challenges too. 

What will your friends think? How much is this going to cost? Which foods and products have animal products in them without you even knowing? Where can I shop? Can vegans eatOreos?? 

Additionally, if not properly managed, a vegan diet may deprive you of select proteins and cause an iron or vitamin B-12 deficiency. Though a plant-based diet will be rich in vitamins A, C, and E, there are other essential nutrients that would need to be supplemented for a truly balanced diet. 

Here we are going to discuss the primary challenges of veganism, with some tips and tricks on how to effectively deal with them. 

A variety of vegetables on a market stall, such as broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, cucumber, and peas.

Getting All Your Protein and Vitamins

A prime concern with a purely vegetarian or vegan diet becomes getting enough protein. Without chicken, beef, or fish in a diet, protein must come from other sources, such as: beans, seeds, nuts, oats, tofu,and others. A vegan has to ensure a proper protein intake or else risk a deficiency, which may cause swelling, hair loss, and mood changes,according to WebMD.

A vegan diet will also need to include alternative sources for themajor vitamins and nutrients iron, zinc, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B-12, and omega-3 fatty acids. These potential deficiencies can reduce the effectiveness of your immune system and cause fatigue. 

Surprisingly, eatingtoo many fruits or vegetables in your diet can also cause problems. The high level of fructose in fruit can become excess glycogen or fat, and some greens carry natural toxins. 

Luckily, multivitamins and other plant-based foods, such as legumes and soy, can shore up the essential nutrients for any vegan. Managing and moderating your diet to reduce the excess from any one food or group, even for healthy fruits and vegetables, simply comes with time. 

With experience, supplements, and the innate knowledge you have over your body, every person arrives at their own equilibrium vegan diet in time. 

An overhead shot of a restaurant. Patrons sit at tables covered in white cloths in high-backed chairs. The waitstaff is in white shirts and black slacks.

Social Troubles, Restaurant Menus, Misunderstandings

As everyone knows, food is one of our most important social activities. Given that vegans are still only about 3% of the population in the U.S. (though that percentage is greater elsewherein the world), ordering from mainstream restaurants and having to explain yourself to waiters or friends can sometimes be a bit of an annoyance. 

As a minority, though increasinglyaccepted at this point, in a largely carnivorous population, being a vegan today may become a continuous social challenge. 

TheLemons and Luggage blog wrote up a snapshot of the common challenges that any fresh vegan will need to prepare for: 

  1. Going out to eat (in non-vegan locales)
  2. Grocery shopping (at mainstream stores full of processed foods and animal products)
  3. Social situations (with people not amenable to the lifestyle)
  4. Other vegans (who may engage in irritating one-upmanship!) 

In apiece by Faunalytics, a vegan scholar analyzes these challenges and theorizes how best to deal with them. The discussion includes ways to be an effective vegan ambassador through clear communication of the benefits and values of the lifestyle - andwhy you chose it. 

Sharing delicious vegan meals with friends and carefully negotiating relationships with spouses that may not share in one’s veganism can help to demystify any misunderstandings about a plant-based way of life. 

Ultimately, every vegan knows that the reasons for pursuing a plant-based life are sound, both ethical and healthy. It just becomes a matter of employing effective communication with any who may misunderstand, or worse - disapprove. 

Various vegetable dishes on a white wooden table, surrounded by the ingredients in the meals. there is a pasta dish, a yellow soup, and three kinds of salad.

Appetite Management, Overwhelming Preparation, and Vegan Junk Food

Most paramount to many new vegans or vegetarians, the matter of shifting your appetite can become a huge problem. Simply, for many, meat tastesgood. Giving it up can be a real challenge. And letting go cold turkey (pun intended…) can cause temporary problems - like brain fog, fatigue, cramps, and cravings, among othersmall but bothersome symptoms for those just now picking up an entirely plant-based diet. 

The main solution to appetite problems is just to get used to the new diet and stick with the commitment, normalizing your body’s hunger towards a vegan menu over time. Preparinggood, tasty vegan dishes can be most effective in overcoming this challenge. But that presents another potential problem for the lifestyle - the sometimes overwhelming and expensive preparation methods needed for vegan meals. 

A vegan who already loves to cook may have no problems here. But for others, vegan food preparation may become a challenge. Additionally, buying vegetarian and vegan recipes can be expensive, often more so than the standard omnivore grocery shop simply because most supermarkets and food companies are not catering to the plant-based diet. 

NerdWalletbreaks down the comprehensive costs of going vegan, including both expenses for homemade prep and going out to eat. The Beet provides an analysis that asserts going veganis actually less expensive, with the right strategy. Obviously, it will always depend on where you are shopping, what you are buying, and how much. But in general, becoming vegan means new considerations - and avoidances - when choosing where and what to buy for your meal plan. 

Not to be discounted in a discussion of the challenges of being vegan - are popularvegan “junk foods.” Yes, even with the ultra-green plant-based diet, there are still ways to eat unhealthily.The Minimalist Vegan includesa conversation on some of the most addictive vegan junk foods, with advice on how to mitigate their impact upon your body over time. 

Five cows of various colors look at the camera. They are standing in grass, with sunlight coming over their heads.

Becoming Vegan is a Challenge, But It’s Worth It

Veganism is full of challenges. As it is a comprehensive lifestyle, there are health concerns, social struggles, and economic outlays needed to make it a reality. But importantly - veganism is also chock full of rewards. A healthy, more ethical way of life awaits those who are committed. 

For the aspiring plant-based eater, a clear understanding of the diet’s limitations - and what nutrients will need to be supplemented - will be necessary. Knowing what your skeptical friends think of your decision will be important factors in how you communicate yourself. Researching quality vegan recipes and hunting for the best, most efficiently-priced brands should be a part of your plan. 

Though the challenges of veganism are real, overcoming them simply requires forethought and willpower. It is well worth it. 

For more to help you along your vegan journey - check out Doshi’s pieces on why you shouldgo vegan, the bestplaces for veganism in the world, thetop vegan brands, and thebest vegan memes

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