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*Video Transcript* -
As vegans, we get to hear quite a lot of excuses from our environment to why they can not be vegans. We have to understand that even though the idea of veganism is familiar to us and it feels like it’s already an inseparable part of our lifestyle, for other people, this is really like sort of a mystery. They don't know anything about it. What we don't know tends to create a feeling of discomfort inside. The way I see it, all these excuses we hear from people about veganism are in fact, them sharing their fears.
Today, every excuse I hear, I try to figure out what’s the fear behind it. What are these fears? what is it that we fear of, that might bring so much pain into our lives? When it comes to the vegan lifestyle, I have found there are 3 types of fears. I’ll also give you examples so you can better understand what I’m talking about.
So let’s take:
"But meat tastes good..." or "I can’t live without cheese"
"I don’t want to be restricted with my food" - I’ve heard this one a lot!
To me, this is a fear of change. What i hear is "I’m afraid I won’t have enough options to eat and I won’t enjoy the food. I’m used to this food I love, and I'm afraid it will be hard for me to changes my habits and persist in this route that I'm not familiar with”.
Change creates a lot of new things we don't know, and what we don't know tends to scare us. But it’s not specifically the change itself that’s the issue, it’s more of the feelings they try to avoid. The pain they try to avoid. When it comes to fear of change, I realized, there are 3 feelings they don’t want to experience:
The first feeling they don’t want to experience is… feeling overwhelmed. Thinking about the complexity of this lifestyle, or of the transitioning process. People see this big complex thing. They see the transition as a huge step. Their whole lifestyle is going to be extremely different now. They have so much to learn. Learning what foods are okay and what’s not okay to eat. Checking the ingredients and learning what is and isn't vegan.
And so they get overwhelmed and decide not to do anything about it and just keep their lifestyle the way it is. People always try to make their life as easy as possible. With everything that’s going on in their life - job, family, friends, business, house, stressful lifestyle... probably the last thing they want to deal with right now is their diet. They don’t want to add anything that will make their life more complicated.
The second feeling they want to avoid is the feeling of restriction.
People are afraid they’ll have a limited amount of options of food to eat. They’re afraid to be restricted with what to make or find in the supermarket or options to eat outside. This is totally understandable. We don’t like to be restricted or limited by rules or specific guidelines. We want freedom. By choosing to eat vegan, you’re eliminating several entire food groups, which are found in a lot of products or recipes.
By the way, that’s actually a feeling you can have for any new lifestyle you adopt for yourself. It can be the same if you do the starch diet, paleo, raw vegan, whatever it is.
And the last feeling people don’t want to experience, is.. they don’t want to feel like they’re missing out on something. They’re afraid that by trying this new lifestyle, by going vegan, they might lose something that they like.
A lot of times I get responses from people like the ones below:
"What about bacon?"
"I’ll miss __________" (fill in the blank with common food people like to eat - pizza, burger, ice cream, seafood, etc.)
People don’t like to change their habits, especially habits they enjoy and are so comfortable with. Sometimes change involves a significant “loss”, and we hate to lose. People think about what they’re going to lose as a result of this change.
These are the 3 main feelings people want to avoid when it comes to fear of change.
When people tell me something along the lines of: "You went vegan? Really?! I didn’t think you'd be one of those…"
I have the option to get hurt, but I remember that before I became a vegan I thought that all vegans are a certain type of people that I don’t really resonate with. When I became a vegan I discovered that there are vegans of all kinds. I can’t be angry at that guy who doesn’t know what I myself didn’t know. But what I hear from that is a fear that going vegan may include social sanctions - fear of facing problems when it comes to their social environment. People today are trying so hard to fit in. They want to be accepted, they try to avoid being the "weird person".
"I’m afraid of what people will think of me."
Or the other side of that is that, as a vegan, they think going out to dinner won’t be as fun. You wouldn't be able to share food or eat outside together. People are afraid of feeling alienated from their friends or family. "I’m afraid I will lose some of those closest to me because of the changes I’m making."
Some common excuses used for this fear:
"I need enough protein in my diet"
“I had a friend who went vegan and got really sick”
For me, what I hear is fear of failure. When a person tells me that, I see it as an indirect way of saying, "I'm afraid I'll have nutritional deficiencies in my diet. I don’t know what to eat. I don’t know how to make sure I feed my body with everything it needs on a vegan diet."
They’re worried they won’t do it properly and then suffer from the consequences, like developing deficiencies, staying hungry, or they don’t know how to maintain a vegan diet when eating out and they’ll eat something that’s not vegan.
We don’t need to be hurt by those people who shy away from veganism or those who give us excuses to why they can never be vegan. The best thing we can do is to explain more about our world so they can see how positive it is, how it’s not as difficult as they think it is. Not as challenging as they think it is.
If you were in a situation where you encountered such a situation, in which someone gave you excuses and you didn't know what to say, you can find the next article in the series here (click this link) with tools to help you deal with them.