Here is the reality that I, as a vegan, hate to admit… most people will fail on a vegan diet. I have met more ex-vegans than I have actually met vegans. Isn’t that ironic? However, it is not necessarily that a vegan diet is flawed. On the contrary, a vegan diet done well is an incredibly healthy way to eat. It helps with weight loss, improves your energy levels, gets rid of acne and gives you better digestion. Not to mention that it is used to prevent and cure the most common lifestyle related diseases. So what is the problem? Well, the problem is that most vegans, especially new vegans, fall victim to some common pitfalls that will cause them to go back to their meat-eating ways sooner or later.
Why do vegans become ex-vegans?
I have been spending time on Reddit lately. I knew about Reddit for years, but only recently decided to see what it is about. Basically, Reddit is like the Olympics for internet forums. You can find a discussion on any topic imaginable. Reddit has a twist in that it adds a social media element to the forums. You can “like” and “award” posts and comments you agree with. Also, there are community boards you can join and discuss elements related to that specific community board. While scrolling through different boards related to the topic of veganism, I saw the following three in quick succession to one another:
This is a vegan reddit board where members can share vegan meals and tips. One catch though is that a low calorie vegan diet is overtly promoted, both in its name and description. “1200isplenty” refers to 1200 calories being a plentiful sum of food to be consuming every day. In reality, a 1200 calorie diet more than just borders on starvation. Eating that little food and thinking you will be able to sustain any type of diet program long term in ludicrous. Notice how they say that everyone is welcome to post on the board, “whether your daily calorie limit is 1200, 1400, or even 1600…” EVEN 1600! While 1600 calories is better than 1200, it is a far cry from what an adult human being (male or female) should be consuming on a daily basis.
There are nearly 80 000 members on this board. That is nearly 80 000 vegans who will soon be ex-vegans if they follow the advice posted on it. Almost without fail, every ex-vegan I have met over the years was once a vegan who drastically restricted their food intake. It is impossible to sustain a vegan diet, or any diet for that matter, if you are starving yourself. You may be able to do it for a few days, a week or perhaps even a few months, if you show extreme perseverance, but eventually you will fail.
Here is another vegan reddit board. This one not only encourages calorie restriction, but also the restriction of carbohydrate calories. This low carb diet recommends that you eat less than 20 grams of carbohydrates a day!
If you want to feel and look worse than you ever have before, then this is the diet for you. A low carbohydrate diet will kill your energy levels. Minor tasks will feel like massive mountains. Not only that, but it will make you depressed. The most unhappy, frantic people I have ever met in my life follow a low carb diet. You can test it for yourself… restrict your carbohydrate intake for a day or two and see what happens. When I did my little experiment I noticed that I did not have energy for any of my cycling workouts. In fact, I did not feel motivated to do anything, never mind go for a bicycle ride. Also, I became short tempered. The smallest things would upset me. It was not fun, but it did help me to understand just how important carbohydrates really are.
Every cell in the human body runs on carbohydrates; either glucose or fructose. You are not doing yourself any favors by depriving your body of its preferred source of fuel. If you are a vegan and you are doing a vegan keto diet, then expect yourself to migrate to this category very soon:
exvegans is the final Reddit board I want to talk about. Like clockwork, it popped up in my feed directly after the two community boards I spoke about above. This is where you will end up sharing your experience on a vegan diet after it “did not work” for you. This board is filled with horror stories from ex-vegans who became anorexic, orthorexic, anemic, diabetic, developed osteoporosis and so forth. It is enough to make any sane and rational person steer clear from ever attempting a vegan diet in the future.
So there you have it… the two most common reasons why people feel TERRIBLE on a vegan diet and end up going off it in the future. I do not mean to oversimplify things. There is a lot more to veganism and nutrition in general than simply eating a sufficient amount of calories and carbohydrates. The reason I am only focusing on these two things here, is because they are the building blocks. Without them, everything else falls apart. There is so much dogma and misinformation out there, that I am happy if the only thing you can take away from this post is that you need to eat a sufficient amount of calories and that carbohydrates are not the enemy.