People have a wide variety of reasons for being (or not being) vegan or vegetarian. People on both sides of the debate get tons of hate, as you may have already experienced.
People were asked why they eat what they eat, and here are their answers below. But before you read… please be aware that these are opinions, and are not necessarily facts.
In an ironic twist, my love of cheese led me to veganism. I loved cheese so much I decided to learn how to make it from scratch as a birthday present to myself (two years ago). I threw myself into learning everything I could about how cheese is produced… went vegan within 24 hours. I went from eating cheese every single day to nothing… cold turkey. Best decision I’ve ever made. What made it “click” for me: the thought of impregnating an animal for the sole purpose of inducing lactation. That milk is meant for her baby… not for me. It made me sick to imagine impregnating a mammal just to take her milk.
Vegan for 5 years. Get married to construction worker. I don’t know how to cook anything but tempeh. Husband, in honeymoon bliss, never complains about eating tofu stir fry for 3 weeks straight. One day I come home early and he is there. He has fried a steak. He was supposed to be at work. It got rained out he says. He tries to hide steak. Ends up confessing that he constantly eats meat in secret, and wasn’t expecting me home. He cries, says he’s sorry but can’t go on like this much longer. His muscle children will starve. (Also weight lifter). I say OK, his life is more important than a chicken’s. I call my grandma. She teaches me how to cook. We live happily ever after in meat and cheese heaven.
To explain more, that day we had a long drawn out fight that lasted about a week about what to do. At first we did have separate meals but it was too expensive. I very slowly switched over. Why? Because I wanted to and it was easier. First it was fish, then dairy, then poultry. I never took red meat back. My grandma taught me how to cook over the phone over a period of six years.
Vegan. I personally couldn’t justify taking the lives of sentient beings who didn’t want to die for trivial enjoyment.
Sadly now the exorbitant cost of kidney beans has alas bankrupted me, and without health foods like steak and eggs I’m a lifeless jelly.
I am no longer vegan but I still don’t eat meat. I missed cheese.
I have an eating disorder and veganism gave me a socially acceptable excuse to skip meals (although my main motivation for it was always ethical). I lost a horrifying amount of weight and my doctor told me that I needed to stop imposing restrictions on my diet so that I could recover. It’s really hard, because I feel guilty, but there’s no such thing as ethical consumption and so veganism is more of a personal thing anyway, in my opinion. I do intend on easing back into a plant based diet when I’m fully recovered and comfortable with eating.
My husband and I were both vegan so we were raising our kids like that by default. We would be at birthday parties and my kids started to get to the point where they wanted the pizza and the cake and I just wanted them to be able to be somewhat normal. Also, I saw people all around me with their kids eating very strict paleo, etc. and being obsessive with food. I worried that sort of diet or, similarly, strict veganism might also put them at risk to be orthorexic. So, again, I just wanted them to be semi-normal. We transitioned to a vegetarian diet and in the city that we live in, there are always lots of options. Two of my kids are old enough now to choose and they like being vegetarian and will sometimes choose vegan meals.
My entire life revolved around food. Going somewhere last minute? Gotta bring vegan snacks. Going out with friends for dinner? Have to play the “can I eat this?” game. Every day was deciding what to eat or cook or buy. I met a meat eater, slowly went from vegan to vegetarian to meat eater. I don’t regret it, I have significantly more free time now.
Being vegan was a health thing for me. I did love having less negative impact on animals and the environment, but my main reason was health. In the end, the chronic issue was not improved (and maybe even aggravated by it slightly). I am 100% for folks going vegetarian or vegan, but I have a very demanding schedule and I simply could not fit it in and be happy.
I read about all the carnists who died while climbing Mount Everest. Since that’s something that I totally plan on doing, and since it was obvious that the reason they died was because of what they ate, I knew that I had to go vegan.
I saw a video of a pig rolling over for a belly rub and then one of a cow curling up on a dog bed. I realized how similar they are to my pets. I stopped eating pig and cow meat for a while and then came across this video. I went completely vegan right then and there and never looked back.
I used to be vegan. I ended up developing an intolerance to legumes (all beans, lentils and chickpeas.) I wound up really, really hungry and anemic. I’m still a vegetarian but I’ve had to incorporate things like skyr/Greek yogurt into my diet. And pizza. For my health.
I am a meat eater. I can never go vegan or vegetarian. I’m intolerant to vegetables (Crohn’s is weird), so as much as I want a salad, it’s a terrible idea. My diet sucks as a result. You get weird looks if you tell people you are a medical salad dodger. People just assume you’re being an unhealthy guy.
One day in the grocery store I looked at the meat section and it looked like a scene out of a horror movie. The week before it had been drumsticks and that day it was a chicken’s leg. A steak was suddenly just the muscle of a murdered cow. It didn’t feel normal anymore. I didn’t even make myself look at the world that way, it was like something that happened to me rather than a choice of my own. All those little seeds planted by animal rights activists, it grew in me without me even noticing.
I tried to go home and pull the wool back over my eyes, and see the world the way I had before. It was easier and more convenient back then. But it wasn’t working. Everything I looked up in an attempt to revert my world back to the way it was only further showed me that you crazy vegans were right. But isn’t all protein from meat? No. But what about iron? Try spinach and fortified breads. B-12? It’s a cheap supplement. I didn’t have a single argument to use to justify myself eating any other way than vegan again.
I went vegan because I wanted my poop to stop hurting me.
That was the most awesome surprise… now I poop in less than 4 seconds… Massive poops too, multiple times a day.
I barely have time to read a Haiku on the toilet.
I was vegan until I realized that all of the food waste at my job, at friends’ places, etc. does not lessen by me not being willing to eat it. If my friend offers me his extra nuggets, me refusing doesn’t help. It doesn’t un-nugget and revive the chicken. It just means perfectly good food goes in the trash because my friend was full.
So now I will eat animal products, but I won’t buy them, and I only eat them if they will otherwise go to waste. (I also eat a bite of meat occasionally when I haven’t in a while to make sure my body can still process it without making me sick, but I don’t buy those, I take them off my friends or partner’s plate.)
I also have eating disordered tendencies, though I don’t have anything bad enough to require medical help, and restricting my diet that much was doing really bad things to my mental health.
I’ll also use my secondhand leather wallet but when it’s worn out I won’t buy another leather one.
I’d been carnist for five years when I married my husband. All I knew how to cook was scrambled eggs. After three weeks of serving only beef stew, I left work early and came home to find my husband eating black bean tacos. At first he tried to hide the food, but then he broke down in tears, told me he needs more fibre and pleaded for his poo-babies.
I gave eating meat one more shot for a few hours and decided we’d cook coq au vin. It took four hours trying to find some place I could buy a rooster. Damn, carnism is hard and really expensive too! Then I tried cooking it (very, very time consuming!) and messed up the recipe at least two times before I gave up and served the meat slime. It was awful!
So obviously I had to learn from my grandma how to make vegan food and we’ve lived happily ever after!
I went vegan to win a bet with a friend that I could do it for a week… six years ago.
I was like heeey this is easy. And I always liked animals. Then I read a lot about animal ethics and it all clicked.
I have a very restricted diet for medical reasons. No spinach. No berries. No nuts. No tofu. No chocolate. On and on. You know what I can eat? Any and all meats, and diary, and eggs! Also breads and carbs. So if I went vegan, I’d be eating the same 5 fruits and veggies every day and a ton of pasta, always being hungry and over eating and feeling tired because the nutrition would be horrible.
Sorry animals, you’re very cute and I love you all, but I’m still going to eat you.
I was visiting a foreign country, Japan, and staying with a family. I didn’t want to be rude and not eat their cooking and I didn’t want them to have to go out of their way for my diet so I ate meat there and that kind of ended it.
I still don’t eat much meat and eat a lot of vegan food but I’m not a vegan.
Vegetarian for 12 years, Vegan for 2.5, went back to Vegetarian last winter. There are many delicious vegan food options and I found a vegan diet generally improved my health. However, I have a busy schedule and don’t always get time to prepare my own meals or the opportunity to make the call about where I eat/what’s on the menu. Unfortunately, while lacto/ovo vegetarianism is pretty widely accepted & recognized at this point, there are still a LOT of restaurants, families and groups that do not understand a vegan needs more to eat than plain salad with dry toast. These types of situations would happen pretty regularly, leaving me HANGRY. So, it’s just easier for everyone if I accept some random dairy or egg now and then. Until the vegan revolution comes, when I’ll bust out the flag and march alongside my plant-nourished comrades once more.
Vegetarian in the streets, Vegan in the sheets.
I was vegan for six years. I got drunk at a friend’s wedding and took a bunch of cheese rolls underneath a table and ate them, in a secret drunken stupor, smearing cheese and butter all over my bridesmaid’s dress. It was such a happy moment in my life and made me realize I had not been enjoying food for a long time. I eat everything now.
My SO and I want to be self-sufficient someday. Without reading the description much, we decided to watch “Sustainable” on Netflix thinking it was more of a homesteading type thing. There wasn’t much that surprised me but my SO’s mind was blown. I remember him looking really shocked and asking me “what are we going to do? Are we going vegan now?” (It isn’t even a fully vegan documentary iirc.)
I had been battling him to eat healthier and saw it as a good excuse to cut out the ridiculous amounts of cheese in our diet anyway. So we started “for a few months just to see.” After a week or two (of hanging around r/vegan), the cognitive dissonance just fell away. I’m still struggling to come to terms with how I could be so blind. I have made more than my fair share of crappy vegan jokes.
My SO and I are now both at our ideal weights (him for the first time ever) and I’m a better cook than I ever imagined I could be because I was forced to try something other than the same 10 recipes I would go to. And nothing beats being able to say “no animals were harmed in the making of this meal” at every meal. I just feel better. In every way possible. Even my “you’ll never change anything” family is starting to come around and it’s only been 6 months. It’s safe to say this is a choice for life and one of the best I ever made.
I worked in a meat packing plant. Absolutely hated it. The most brutal and miserable job I’ve ever had. Decided that no one should be involved in a process like that, people or animals. Becoming vegan was difficult but I managed later. I don’t believe in half measures.
I used to be vegan. Got pregnant and craved chicken wings the entire time. Finally ate them after I had my son and haven’t turned back since.
Going out to eat food in places was the worst, if I went to a restaurant I would have to eat the dry bread and eat basic foods (salads, soups, rice). I made the mistake of joining a vegan group on Facebook and it was just filled with so much hatred to people who eat meat, frequently calling them carnies (carnivores/carnists) and monsters, while acting superior. A “We’re morally right so we can insult anyone”, I felt disgust for the vocal side of the community. Over time, it became an uphill battle to remain vegan and stick with my morals which I was slowly becoming unsure of if my heart was truly in it. I gradually started eating animal products again (going vegetarian) before consuming meat once more.
For the most part, vegan isn’t difficult once you know what you can and can’t eat, I imagine it’s similar to having an allergy (but nowhere near as serious).
Vegan, because there was no good reason for me to stay Carnist.
Reasons not to be Carnist:
- Carnist ‘food’ can be overrated
- It’s healthier
- It’s cheaper
- I’m not a sheep – society won’t tell me what to do
- I’m also not a baby cow
- I have morals
- I care about the environment
- I don’t want to support horrible industries
- Animals should be left alone to be in the wild
- Who the heck am I to know all this and continue to be Carnist
Invalid reasons to be Carnist:
- I’m selfish and want to be Carnist for my own convenience, tastebuds and pleasure
Valid reasons others are Carnist :
- Major health issues unrelated to poor diet planning
Actual reasons for me to be Carnist: 0.
Although I am plagued by guilt of the animals I’m hurting (not bees though, eating honey is good for bees!!), I have an eating disorder and am celiac, and to stay alive I need to stop eating a restrictive diet.
It became an obsession to worry about death while eating – first I didn’t eat pigs because pigs are intelligent and empathetic beings, then decided against anything that had a brain, then when I cut out eggs and dairy I realized that everything I ate caused something to suffer- through slave labor, through destruction of habitat, reduction in crop diversity, etc. even eating quinoa takes resources away from indigenous populations that rely on the food to live. Part of my eating disorder was the guilt not only in thinking I was getting fat, but that I was hurting things by merely existing, by sustaining myself. I went insane. My life became unlivable and I literally became suicidal because I couldn’t stop stressing over food. I didn’t eat for five days when I was at my worst – then on the fifth day I confided in a friend about my irrational concerns and he called 911. I went to the hospital, ever since then has been a journey to get better.
I’m not meant to restrict myself anymore. With celiacs, the amount of food I can eat is already limited, and my therapist honestly worries about even that life-saving restriction, and how it necessitates an obsession with seeing how the food is prepared and what it is composed of, at the threat of death. Now, in recovery- eternally in recovery- I have vegan friends who attack me with videos of animals being tortured, spam me with them, and I can’t explain how much it hurts to see. But to stay alive I can’t do it…
I grew up hunting on my grandparent’s cattle/sheep ranch. I was killing animals by the time I was 5. Shooting squirrels in my grandma’s peach trees, shooting foxes and other animals that got caught in traps in the face with a shotgun. Hunting deer (and always eating them), jack rabbits, armadillo, snakes, raccoons, etc. My grandparents took wonderful care of their animals, but were ultimately just raising them to sell them for meat – something I didn’t learn for a very long time. I saw them more as pets until I was in my teens. I always believed in the “circle of life” and that meat was healthy and necessary, and “any diet that required supplements (b12) must not be that healthy.”
But then I learned the “circle of life” only applies to animals that don’t have a choice. It’s a necessary evil for them. For us, it’s just evil since we have grocery stores and mass agriculture that makes animal products unnecessary.
Then I learned meat was not necessary. I’ve had cancer and tumors, and learned that red meat is a group 2a carcinogen (probably carcinogenic) and processed meat is a group 1 (carcinogenic to humans) and a plant based diet can minimize or reduce those risks.
Then learned where b12 actually comes from, and decided I didn’t need to filter my b12 through another animal that has to die to give me my supplement, when I could just buy a cheap bottle of pills that taste like candy instead.
After learning that, I just couldn’t live with the cognitive dissonance of continuing to eat animal products.
I became vegan for both practical and political reasons. I love animals and dislike battery farming industries. I especially hate battery eggs. So I stopped eating meat and I stopped eating eggs. I am lactose intolerant so I already didn’t eat dairy. Giving up honey, white bread and a few other little things was an easy next step.
I was a very likeable vegan if I do say so myself. If I asked for no bacon and a meal came with bacon, I either gave the bacon to someone else or ate it. No throwing away – that’s wasteful. I didn’t ask sandwich artists to change their gloves between touching meat and touching my sub because that’s just extra trash which is bad for the environment. No need to wash pans and pots between the meaty meal and my meal, let’s save water. I wanted so badly not to be a hypocrite.
But it became impossible.
Ultimately, eventually, I began to realize that if I really wanted to do this to do my bit to preserve the environment I’d eventually have to kill myself. Simply being alive meant I had to consume something that hurt Mother Nature. Vegetable industries were pretty hard on the environment too. Some were even worse than meat industries. Then there was animal testing. I already bought Australis cosmetics which weren’t tested on animals and my soap and shampoo were both vegan. But what about cleaning products? Toiletries? Toothpaste? Clothes? Could I buy medication or accept medical interventions for health problems that had been tested on animals? I remember thinking that as I prepared to sign up for an exploratory surgery.
As I got more and more into the vegan lifestyle, it got harder. More and more things were found by the vegan community to be not vegan. Bread, almonds, anything with red dye, certain tofu brands, a whole lot of tinned fruit, TVP, and white sugar. Pretty soon I was just eating potatoes and raw spinach.
The crappy diet made me sick. I was anaemic, depressed and suicidal. I got put on Olanzapine which made my appetite go crazy. I ballooned to 82kg. 82kg! I was a unicorn: an overweight vegan! My doctor said I needed to eat less carbs and more lean meat and dark leafy greens. I told him I was vegan and watched him wince. And the vegan community was mean. Constantly scrutinizing other people’s shopping carts and shrieking child abuse whenever they saw someone feeding meat to a child. Finally, I got into an argument with a woman who insisted it was okay to feed her cat a vegan diet because “he’s getting all the right nutrients!” She wouldn’t hear otherwise. That’s when something in me clicked and I realized this was a colossal waste of time. I was putting my own health in jeopardy for nothing more than a pat on the back from people like this.
Just like that, I gave up being vegan. I ate kangaroo for dinner that night and salivated the whole tine. I now enjoy meat, eggs and honey again. My energy levels increased and I started exercising again, got off Olanzapine and treated my depression with healthy food and exercise, lost weight due to no longer eating carbs for every meal and now I feel a hundred times better!
Some of the comments may have been edited for the sake of clarity.