Many people assume that the hardest part about going vegetarian or vegan is giving up grandma’s cooked ham at christmas or an extra large pepperoni and cheese pizza. In reality, many of the biggest obstacles this lifestyle faces has nothing to do with diet. The problems are mainly the social and health aspects.
While veganism is about more than just your dietary habits, it’s your way of eating that will surface as the more apparent difference between you and your non-vegan friends, family and romantic partners. Cooking with others can be challenging. Eating out can be even more challenging. Many vegetarians and vegans find themselves as almost an inconvenience to their friends or family because of the “need” to find somewhere with veggie options. Being a vegetarian can cause problems when going out, because their may be a lack of vegan or vegetarian options, forcing you to find other alternatives to eat.
Most of the time at social events, family functions or other activities vegetarians are bombarded with questions and comments about what you are or aren’t eating. Your once healthy food plate will suddenly become an open invitation for scrutiny. Many people see this as an opportunity for judgement and a litany of rude comments may follow.
Personally, I have dealt with several comments about my food choices that have ranged from “Im surprised you haven’t turned green from all that salad you eat” to “get some meat on your body girl, all that kale won’t get you anywhere.” This is a common challenge and obstacle vegetarians have to face on a daily basis. Who knew that YOUR diet choices were everyone else’s business and a comedy act?
One of the greatest challenges for vegetarians or vegans is getting enough protein. Protein is essential in building and keeping our muscles and red blood cells healthy as well as supporting growth during all life stages. This can be problematic and cause deadly health problems for vegetarians if they are not getting enough protein. There are numerous other plant-based proteins that contain the required amount of amino-acids in them to keep our bodies healthy. These plant-based proteins include quinoa, lentils, chickpeas, all kinds of nuts, hemp seeds, black beans, tofu and edamame beans.
Meal planning is extremely important for vegetarians or vegans because it can be challenging to get the nutrition they need through diet alone. In addition to low protein intake, vegetarians are at risk of several micronutrient deficiencies such as iron, vitamin B12, calcium, vitamin D, omega 3 fats and zinc. The link provides excellent tips and advice on how vegetarians or vegans can avoid vitamin deficiencies.
Although there are a list of challenges vegetarians and vegans seem to face on a daily basis, there are hundreds and thousands of people eating a plant-based diet that are extremely successful and seem to face no adversity.
- Carl Lewis: he is a US track and field star who is a nine time Olympic Gold Medalist. He also won gold three times in a row at the Olympics. Lewis stated that he became a vegan in 1990 and credits his diet with helping to prolong his career.
- Steve Jobs: he was the co-founder of Apple and has been thought of as to be one of the greatest thinkers in the world. He was a leading expert in the development of computers. Jobs was a long time vegetarian and a health food advocate.
- Ellen DeGeneres: she is a famous actress, comedian, TV host and well known public figure. DeGeneres is a committed animals right activist and has been a vegan for over 20 years.