Here’s Why Vegan Diets Don’t Work

Here’s Why Vegan Diets Don’t Work

Thinking of going vegan? You’d be joining an exclusive group of roughly 79 million if you do. It’s clearly not a popular lifestyle choice, and there’s a good reason for that: vegan diets don’t work. And here’s why.

Here’s Why Vegan Diets Don’t Work
Vegan diets are not one size fits all | iStock

Vegan diets are gross and unhealthy

While the stereotype states that vegans only eat rabbit food, I’m sorry to tell you that if you were looking for a diet where carrots and hay are two of the key food groups, you’re going to be disappointed.

Vegan diets are varied, and there is no singular way to follow one. If you love to eat only plant-based whole foods, that’s great. If you love the occasional indulgence, you’ll fit right in too. Name your favorite food and there’s probably a vegan version of it somewhere. Nowadays, supermarkets (like Tesco and Walmart) are filled with dairy-free ice creams, vegan candy bars, and plant-based cheese. There are even vegan options at many of the world’s most popular fast-food chains.

And it’s too bad that plant-based whole foods are so boring, too. All those everyday, recipe creators and chefs alike coming up with viral takes on classic recipes made vegan, or finding new ways to cook vegetables—like turning the humble cauliflower into fried “chicken”—must be devastated by the millions of downloads, likes and shares they’re getting. (See some examples of these wildly unpopular global sensations here, here, and here.)

Here’s Why Vegan Diets Don’t Work
Many of the foods you already eat are already vegan | Impossible Foods

Vegan diets will alienate you from everyone you love

Poor vegans, they’re so lonely. They sit and eat their little lettuce leaves all by themselves, because no one wants to eat with them. And then they follow up with little pints of plant-based Ben & Jerry’s all alone, and drown their sorrows in gooey stretchy vegan grilled cheese, sad-binge Oreos (which have always been vegan), satisfy their cravings with a footlong from Subway, or deep-dish pizza, and top it all off with chocolate, and their favorite childhood candy, and … wait. Suddenly everyone’s asking for a bite?

The truth is, the days when people thought eating vegan food was “weird” are behind us. Now, you can order takeout and there’s something for everyone, vegans, omnivores, and everyone in between. You might even find that everyone suddenly seems interested in plant-based food. Flexitarian eating—when people reduce their meat and dairy intake—is rising in popularity, after all.

You’ll also find that many of your family-favorite meals are either already plant-based, or can be made so easily (spaghetti bolognese, stir fry, and curry are some great examples). When you cook for your friends and family, they may not even notice a difference. 

So, if you were looking for a diet that gives you peace and quiet at mealtimes, vegan isn’t it. 

Here’s Why Vegan Diets Don’t Work
Vegan meat is the most widely available it has ever been | Impossible Foods

Vegan diets won’t make you hate meat

If you think going vegan means converting to a lifestyle of meat-hating, then you’ll be disappointed. In fact, if you love meat, you might not have to give up what you love at all.

If you love how meat tastes, how it sizzles in the pan, or how it grills on the barbecue, then there are plenty of vegan meat substitutes that can cater to your palate. (If you don’t believe us, give Beyond Meat, Impossible Foods, Quorn, LikeMeat, Fry’s, or Oumph! a whirl and then see what you think.)

If substitutes aren’t for you, then you can get that meaty texture from whole foods too. For example, have you ever tried a grilled portobello mushroom steak? Meaty, shroomy goodness. If you’re curious, find plenty of meaty plant-based recipes here

Here’s Why Vegan Diets Don’t Work
Knowing where to shop can help keep your grocery bill low | OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images

Being vegan will make you go broke

If you go vegan, you’ll have to take out a loan to buy all that extra tofu, amirite? 

It’s true that tofu can be expensive, but the trick is knowing where to buy it. If it’s accessible to you, the prices are often much lower at an Asian supermarket. And you can buy lots of plant-based staples there, like seitan, as well as jackfruit. They even sell high-quality, firm tofu at Costco.

But there’s no getting away from it; buying all of the vegan meat and cheese products at the supermarket can get expensive. There’s still a long way to go in terms of access and affordability before we reach equity. However many brands, like Impossible Foods, are working to bring costs down as quickly as possible. (The company’s main goal is to “undercut the price of conventional ground beef,” you can read more on this here.)

That said, more affordable options are appearing all the time. Walmart, for example, now offers vegan cheese and chicken in its Great Value range. Target has an extensive lineup of plant-based options, including private-label burgers. And Tesco has its Plant Chef range and Iceland also has a variety of lower-priced vegan meat products.

But it’s important to note that access isn’t the same for everyone, and people living in areas like food deserts—areas without access to fresh fruits and vegetables—do not have the same options as those living in more affluent areas. But, with hope, change is coming. A number of chefs and startups are working to change the food industry, you can read about them here and here. You can also find our guide to eating vegan in a food desert here

So, it’s clear: vegan diets don’t work. Unless, of course, you’re interested in a healthy, whole-foods-based diet that offers variety beyond your wildest dreams, health benefits that no other diet can offer, and a practical, actionable way to participate in mitigating climate change, global pandemics, and food insecurity (among other things). You might even find yourself trying out recipes you never thought you would, and enjoying them too (with your family and friends). Even if you are someone who “hates to cook,” there are cheap, easy ways to thrive on a vegan diet. So, don’t—whatever you do, don’t—try a vegan diet.