According to 2023 statistics, about 1.1% of the world population is vegan. That isn’t a lot, and apparently there are many reason why people quit being vegan. We scoured the Internet to learn why, and found several discussions online. First, let’s look at some vegan facts.
Who Is The Typical Vegan?
Vegans are most likely to be a woman under the age of 35 reports the website Veganbits.
Where Are The Vegans?
In the US, Portland, OR is considered the most vegan-friendly city, while the Dakotas and Mississippi have the fewest vegans.
Plant-Based Eating Is Healthy, and It Isn’t Veganism
What does it mean to be a “plant-based eater?” Well, for one, it is not the same thing as being vegan. Eating a higher proportion of foods from plant sources, compared to animal sources, has been shown to provide long-term health benefits for your heart, metabolism, and digestion – but you don’t have to be vegan or even vegetarian to reap these rewards.
In other words, you can eat mostly plants, most of the time. A dish that uses fish sauce as a condiment would not be out of bounds, nor would eating a treat made with honey, as examples. And, if you wanted a small steak with your dinner, have at it!
Greenpeace tells us that Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisines are very vegan focused, most likely due to fasting traditions of the Orthodox Christians, who abstain from all animal products for about 200 days per year. India has about 400 million vegetarians, although vegan stats are not as clear. Globally, the highest rate is in Israel, with around 5% of the population considering themselves vegan.
Why Do People Quit Veganism?
As usual, Redditers had plenty to say.
“It was destroying my health and I was always hungry. I knew enough of the well-known vegans to know they are not that healthy even on endless supplements. Humans should not have to take pills to live.”
“I’ve been vegan for 3 and a half years. Thinking of quitting it as I simply don’t feel healthy. I really do care about the animals but the diet is literally making me sick.”
“Constantly having to read food labels and restricting choices meant I ended up developing an eating disorder. The misanthropy gave me an existential crisis and alienated me from society.”
“It was not the food for me although I live in a food desert. It was the horrible, culty mentality and dangerous behavior of the members of the vegan movement that made me ditch veganism as a whole.”
Let’s Look at Burgers: Grain, Bean, Beef…and Impossible
This person talked about their trajectory from whole grain/bean burger, to beef burgers – and not ending up with faux meat.
“I grew up loving Amy’s brand veggie burgers, and those were mostly made out of whole grain and beans. I loved veggie burgers then, but they made me so gassy and still hungry after. If I ate two of them, I would be exhausted and need to nap…
I eat beef burgers all the time now and if I go with a lettuce wrap instead of a bun I have so much energy…
I am grateful that I didn’t grow up with Impossible/Beyond meat though, at least with Amy’s you could see real beans. I haven’t tried the ultra-processed stuff and have no desire to.”
Celebrities Who Quit Being Vegan
An online magazine, Vegan Food and Living, did a story on ex-vegan celebs.
Miley Cyrus quit being vegan. She said, “Now I’m so much sharper than I was, and I think that I was, at one point, pretty malnutritioned. [sic]”
Miley was part of a power couple with Liam Hemsworth, who also quit veganism, saying, ““The first two years, I felt great. I felt my energy was high. I felt like my body was strong, cardio was high, everything felt really good…(then) last year I was feeling really low and lethargic and wasn’t feeling good generally.”
Actress Anne Hathaway said she broke her vegan lifestyle with a piece of fish: “I had a piece of salmon and my brain felt like a computer rebooting.”
Channing Tatum allegedly tried to be vegan, but he doesn’t like vegetables. Yeah, that would be hard.
A woman named Amber took to social media to explain how she was initially persuaded by an on-line Influencer to become vegan. She listened to these Influencers, who she didn’t know, who championed veganism with questionable nutritional reasoning. She finally realized that for her, she was better off not being vegan, and she made posts on-line to encourage other people to think for themselves.
The CEO of a Pro-Vegan Company Comes Clean
Brenden Fitzgerald is the Founder and CEO of Planet Protein Inc. Their Mission Statement is, “Planet Protein’s intention is to protect and provide for the planet, the planet people, and animals. Our mission is to give you delicious, holistic fuel while connecting you to the earth and the planet’s purest ingredients. We take great pride in our values and earthiness!”
So, when Brenden posted the following on his Facebook page in December 2022, it was met with a lot of derision from vegans:
“It’s been about 1.5 years NOT vegan. I feel incredible, both mentally & physically. Just realized I never announced the whole “not vegan anymore” thing on FB. Grass fed, pasture raised steak and eggs for the win… Boy my definition of ‘superfood’ sure did change. Learned a lot during my 6 year stint as a vegan, and definitely understand why people want to live that way. I’m respectfully retiring from the emasculating propaganda filled, fear mongering ‘movement’. I mean lifestyle. Time for some raw milk from our local farm. Peace & Love.”
Morality Is Different For Everyone
One Reddit poster explained why they ceased being vegan, but also asked some hard questions:
“I became a vegan during the COVID lockdown. I did it for ethical reasons. Watching videos of animal slaughter disgusted me and made me sad. I went vegan and not only did I feel physically better, but I also felt morally better. What made be stop being a vegan was my constant lightheadedness… I now eat chicken and dairy. I still am uncomfortable eating beef, pork… I feel way better now. The constant lightheadedness is gone, and the anxiety is gone. Another interesting thing I have noticed since not being vegan anymore is that my mood swings are gone too. I noticed I was always grouchy as a vegan… I also do not understand why people, especially in Western culture think it is okay to eat a cow, pig, chicken, fish, but not okay to eat a dog?…Why do us Westerners think it is okay to eat cows, when cows are considered sacred in India? So, what is my conclusion now as an ex-vegan? Morality on this topic is very subjective and that is okay.”
For Some, Being An Omnivore Feels Better, Physically
Eating a broader diet works better for some:
“I too struggle with the ethics of eating animals (of course, which is why I was vegan!), but it’s come to a point where I feel that I can’t martyr myself and make myself physically ill because of ethics.”
For Some, Being An Omnivore Feels Better, Mentally
“Including meat in my diet has immensely helped my ADHD/ learning difficulties. I wasn’t able to focus on books in school, and now love to read and can’t put down books. I’m better at social interactions and keeping up with conversations.”
“Yes, that’s usually what people say, even without learning difficulties, they claim that they think clearer. Many ex-vegans said brain fog was a big problem and they were emotionally unstable.”
Veganism Doesn’t Always Equal Sustainability
Many vegans say they eat that way because they are concerned about sustainability. There are many foods that vegans eat quite a lot of that are not considered sustainable, such as soybeans (due to land use requirements), corn (fertilizer usage and monocropping, which depletes soil), spinach (pesticide use), and avocados and almonds (water use).
Don’t Label Me
This Reddit poster doesn’t want to labeled:
“For now, I’m loving the idea of no longer labeling my diet and prioritizing mostly vegan food, while adding in some carefully sourced animal products. I am still extremely opposed to factory farming and want to continue avoiding all factory farmed meats, which I realize is a huge privilege in itself to be able to afford to do.”
What Is The Science?
Some on-line ex-vegans talk about the science of being an omnivore:
“If it helps, there’s a point where you can’t fight biology. We are adapted to meat eating. Shorter intestinal tract. Lack of cecum for fermenting plant matter into fatty acids (which many apes have, but we don’t). Stomach pH that is closer to a scavenger’s than a herbivores. Some scientists even think meat eating and using tools to get at marrow was huge in our development as a species.
Do we judge bears or raccoons for being omnivore? Of course not. They have needs for a balanced diet. So do we.”
5 Years A Vegan, But Not Now
This commenter was vegan for 5 years, but feels much better having incorporated animal products into their diet. Their story is common; many vegans felt great at first, but it does not continue:
“I was vegan for about five years. First years were great, but it went downhill from there. Huge problems with blood sugar, always tired and weak, a lot of brain fog and quite depressed. I tried to cure it for two years with everything I could find. I supplemented, I ate whole foods, tried this and that but nothing helped. As a last resort I tried animal products again, although I didn’t think it was the vegan diet. Well, turned out, it was the vegan diet. So that’s why I quit.”
Hormones Can Be Affected
This young woman quit being vegan due to hormonal upset:
“I was a vegan for 8 years. So was my mom. We both ended up with huge hormonal issues, chronic fatigue, and gut dysbiosis. And yes, we were eating a very healthy plant based diet. The best you could have eaten according to the vegan “experts.” We did not eat vegan junk food, yet we still ended up with deficiencies and very ill. We are trying very hard now to regain our health. For that reason, I strongly advise against veganism to everyone I know now. Especially if you are in your reproductive years. It has made my hormones so crazy that I would not be able to conceive right now.”
And Apparently, Dying Isn’t Vegan, and We Cannot Escape It
Here is a provocative closing note. One Reddit commenter offered the following: “Dying isn’t vegan. After you die, the body goes through a process of autolysis where cells are destroyed by their own enzymes, this is also known as self-digestion. Since you are an animal, eating yourself is not vegan.”
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