19 things you will only understand if you’re a vegan

‘No guys, I don’t wear hemp or collect crystals…I just don’t like animal by-products!’

(Image credit: Rex)

‘No guys, I don’t wear hemp or collect crystals…I just don’t like animal by-products!’

Vegans make up less than 1% of the UK population and are therefore subject to a lot of myths.

Here’s the first thing to set straight - a vegan diet is made up of more than soybeans – yes vegans may choose to eat plant-derived foods but that doesn’t mean that they can’t still eat stir fry, pasta, sushi, pad thai, pancakes and pizza.

‘Oh my god, they’re just like us!’ Yes…they are.

We’re not saying that being a vegan isn’t hard – it’s incredibly tough, just not for the reasons most people would assume. Veganism isn’t difficult because you are unable to eat bacon, it’s difficult because people will frequently tell you how stupid you are for purposely cutting bacon out of your diet and try to tempt you by waving BLTs in front of your face, hoping to make you crack and munch it down.

Seeing as vegans are rarely in the majority, it is hard to find someone who understands. So for those of you who know the struggles of veganism all too well, here are 19 things that you will understand…

1. Being introduced as a vegan and having everyone immediately assume that you're pretentious ‘I just personally don’t like meat! There’s nothing more to it!’

2. The constant confusion of, well, everyone to distinguish veganism from vegetarianism ‘Don’t worry, it’s vegetarian!’ ‘That’s nice…I still can’t eat it.’

3. Breaking down when your flatmate uses one of your pans for her steak, leaving meat residue on it And then have having everyone act like you are a massive drama queen for getting upset.

4. That awkward disappointed/ offended look that people give you when you politely decline the dairy-based dish that they have made despite being fully aware of your diet ‘But I spent all day making this! Won’t you just have a slice?’ No.

5. The anger you feel when people try to bond with you over the fact that they were vegetarian once for a week ‘Right, that’s not really the same though... At all.’

6. Everyone you meet suddenly having very strong opinions on protein and iron. ‘But HOW are you getting your source of iron? And what is giving you protein?!’ 7. When people feel awkward eating meat and dairy in front of you and so just stop inviting you to their burger lunches… ‘Guys I’m very happy to sit with you and just eat my kale!’

8. People delighting in catching you out and accusing you of having double standards Every time you get caught wearing a leather jacket or suede boots, someone will bring up animal cruelty. You can’t even eat kale without someone joking ‘You’re killing plants’. Just don’t guys.

9. When people treat veganism as a joke ‘There’s just a little bit of meat in it. You won’t notice, and can’t you just pick the cheese out?’ Obviously not. 10. Everyone around you suddenly becoming an expert on nutrition ‘You look too thin and pale, you’re clearly under-nourished – you need a burger’ Thanks for that. Thanks a lot.

11. When people constantly try to break you, parading meats, cheeses and eggs in front of your nose ‘Are you sure you don’t want a fry up? We won’t tell anyone! Go on!’ 12. People asking continuously if you mind them eating meat or drinking cow’s milk in front of you ‘No! I don’t! At all! Please stop asking me!’

13. Struggling to fit in at celebrations If it’s someone else’s party you're inevitably going to offend by bringing your own lunch and if it's your own celebration, let’s be honest, nothing ruins a party like a vegan birthday cake. 14. People hail you as a goddess of obscure vegetables and go to you to ask complex questions about celeriac and cherimoya When in actual fact you live off of Linda McCartney vegan sausages and pasta… 15. Having people constantly ask you if you’re still a vegan As though it is a craze that you’ll grow out of… ‘yes I am still a vegan…are you still a meat-eater?’ 16. Generally having only one choice on every menu ever ‘Well I guess I’m going to go for the side salad again…and a piece of bread’

17. People feeling the need to justify their diet to you, recounting their week’s meals ‘Thank you for describing your entire week's worth of food to me…I didn’t ask.’

18. Having guys assume that you’re not interested in them because they eat meat Umm that’s not really how love works… 19. The excitement of meeting another veganEven if you have nothing in common, you both understand the struggle, and delight in sharing a pot of humous and bitching about the 18 points above.

Jenny Proudfoot
Features Editor

Jenny Proudfoot is an award-winning journalist, specialising in lifestyle, culture, entertainment, international development and politics. She has worked at Marie Claire UK for seven years, rising from intern to Features Editor and is now the most published Marie Claire writer of all time. She was made a 30 under 30 award-winner last year and named a rising star in journalism by the Professional Publishers Association.