The challenges of maintaining a plant-based lifestyle

By Roger Lane

Eating vegetarian and living a vegan lifestyle takes discipline, planning, an open mind regarding protein/vitamin sources and resilience to occasional social pressure. With all of these challenges, it’s no surprise that there are many lapsed vegetarians and vegans among us. In fact, a study from the Humane Society found 84% of people who quit eating animal products eventually change their mind and revert to a meat-inclusive diet. Social alienation, inconvenience, irresistible urges, and declining health often lead vegans to second guess their decision to go meat free.

It appears that there are two primary motivations for turning to a plant-based diet. Most vegans have decided to go meat free for ethical reasons or for better health. Studies have shown ethical vegans undergo a kind of conversion, triggered by exposure to traumatizing footage of irresponsible animal farming practices. Not only do they abstain from animal proteins, but also leather, silk, perfumes, nail polishes, etc. Animal protein represents a small part of what the ethical vegan is rejecting and studies suggest that their stronger feelings of conviction help them to remain vegan longer.

The health vegan on the other hand, like any dieter, suffers feelings of restriction and social isolation. Often, the one thing you won’t allow yourself, turns into the only thing you want, which leads to overindulgence. Luckily, the recent surge in plant-based eating has led to the creation of support groups, magazines, chat rooms, and even vegetarian-themed group activities that converts can turn to during times of temptation. For the health vegan, personal patience and incremental changes or reductions in animal products might be a better solution than eliminating all animal proteins at once.

If food manufacturers understand these challenges, there is a real opportunity to target this growing plant-based consumer market with vegan options that are accessible, convenient, affordable and tasty.

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