View Full Version : Why do you think omnivores don't turn vegans sooner ?

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Jan 22nd, 2009, 11:15 PM
Sorry if this question has already been posted. In case please
let me know where or if it's not appropriate.

I wonder if you came up with a sort of list of the main reasons
why omnivores (or vegetarians) don't turn vegan sooner or ever.

I just joined the group of discussions here, the "vegans and non-vegans" so maybe
that's the most appropriate forum where to ask this?

Anyway, I'm being very careful putting this question here cause
I just posted a reply in an Italian vegan forum to a girl who was wondering why knowledge of animal suffering isn't enough for people to change,
and my reply
got erased straight away and when i asked why, they deleted
my question too, and then
they just said it was antivegan to list reasons people dont become vegans and they got VERY mad and I was completely bewildered and when I tried to ask what exactly was wrong
with trying to understand the reasons (call them excuses if you will)
why people take so long to cHANGE, I noticed i could no longer
reply cause they had banned me from the forum...

I am quite shocked.

i had joined a week ago or so and so far I had done nothing but
exchanging useful information with other vegan teachers on where
to get some good material to use with our kids.

I'm quite an activist and I already turned a considerable number of people into vegetarians or they cut their intake of milk and meat a LOT.

I really hope not all vegans are that proud as to not even
want to DISCUSS such an important question .

I think understanding exactly why the overwhelming majority of people are still meat eaters is crucial , especially for activists.

I'm really worried to see that they wouldn't even start this discussion.

Only 0.5% of people are vegans in the USA and other European countries.
Clearly they all have reasons.
we can easily call those reasons "excuses" and i think I'd agree that
80% of them are excuses, but I'm trying to get into their shoes before
i'm so quick on judging them.

And once I could understand those reasons, i wouldn't justify them of course, but i would try my best to focus my activism in directions
aimed at removing those reasons, one by one.

I dont know..
i had a really bad vibe from what happened today in that forum..
I'm afraid they don't do animals a favour by putting themselves
on a pedistal and judging people who are exactly like they were too
until they turned vegans.

I felt a lack of humility if you know what i mean..
anyway, sorry if this isn't the right place to post this.
Please dont ban me too!!

If you think i'm very wrong, just pls help me understand.


Jan 23rd, 2009, 01:05 AM
One word: cheese.

Quantum Mechanic
Jan 23rd, 2009, 01:19 AM
One major thing is change of habit. This has multiple components. There is the superficial component, which is usually (almost always) but not always present ("but I like the taste of it and don't want to switch to something new"), but there are also a lot of other components to switching habits. For instance, while we know that nutritionally it's not hard to get the requirements met as a vegan (and for me I find it easier than when I was omni), the vast, vast majority of us grew up with food pyramids and/or meal plans that centered around meat = protein, dairy = calcium, etc.

And so planning meals, and making a balanced diet, while not harder once you get used to it, you have to learn it all over, since nobody taught you the "vegan food pyramid of nutrition" when growing up. Fortunately when I got to college, there was a vegan food line option, and so I got to see that it was actually quite within my reach to sustain myself on the food there (well, on most days - there was one night where they served salad for dinner, which was pretty silly since there already is a salad bar). I never thought that a vegetarian or vegan would live off sticks and sprouts, but it was nice to see the foods on display every night, and that you can fill yourself up on yummy foods (well, on most nights).

Also, when I was younger and really wanted to be vegetarian, after a little while my parents thought it was too difficult and relied on expensive prepackaged faux meats like Morningstar to be nutritionally balanced. Basically, it was that problem that a lot of people who were ex-veg encountered - just leaving out the old item and not having a balanced vegan/vegetarian diet. The Internet would've helped at this point, too, as I was really adamant at this point that I didn't want to go back to eating meat but eventually I did somehow. I don't think I'd even heard the word vegan then, and my dad's only exposure was some guy on the radio deriding vegans as being unrealistic weirdos or terrorists or something.

Also, we are taught subtly throughout our lives that non-human animals are to be treated lesser than us. Whether it's the language of "pet owners" or in the expectation that cows and chickens and sheep for instance exist for the purpose of giving humans their lives, milk, eggs, and wool. Rarely is it mentioned that these are not given by consent, but taken, and often after the animals in question have been treated horrendously.

But most of us have grown up with these attitudes ingrained, and so even knowing how the animals are treated, if one hasn't yet questioned these underlying attitudes thoroughly enough, then one may well not react with the horror that we are prone to upon learning these things. I believe it is key for vegan activism to be not only about education of what happens to other animals, but also to get people to more thoroughly question these attitudes about the purposes and lives of non-humans.

Jan 23rd, 2009, 01:22 AM
I think we have to remember that for a lot of people eating meat is a habit they may have been culturing for many years, and that is a difficult thing to break. This is especially so if they are poorly informed or have only had ill-represented experience of vegans, which I think a lot of people do unfortunately . Possibly if they have met the Italians you mentioned.

Or possibly they are just well into cheese

Jan 23rd, 2009, 01:23 AM
My typing's way too slow!

Jan 23rd, 2009, 02:21 AM
I believe one of the main reasons people don't become vegan is ignorance and the want to stay ignorant so they don't have to know where food comes from. I can partially excuse people for their ignorance, because to a large extent it may not be their fault. Parents, the government, USDA, school lunch programs and lack of nutrition education are all keeping the general public away from the latest research on nutrition, which is proving over and over again that a vegan diet is the best thing you can do for yourself, animals, and the environment. I believe that given the truth, there are a lot more intelligent caring people out there who would become vegan.

There are also people who realize they are ignorant, but care to do nothing about it because they don't want to find out the truth. This is completely inexcusable.

There are also a lot of silly socially created stigmas against veganism. For example how many times have you heard that eating meat is manly.

Quantum Mechanic
Jan 23rd, 2009, 07:35 AM
I believe one of the main reasons people don't become vegan is ignorance and the want to stay ignorant


There are also people who realize they are ignorant, but care to do nothing about it because they don't want to find out the truth. This is completely inexcusable.

I agree with this point that you mean, but also I should point out that there are points in between. Oftentimes there are people who are in transition (mentally), or who later will consider veganism and then become vegan, and so while they may not be ignorant of the facts, and may have made a number of the comments in the "silly things said by omnis" thread, that in fact what looks like someone being merely willfully ignorant often is the start of the process of questioning things.

I myself have said a number of the "classic omni remarks" - not as retorts or insults or as a way to make vegetarianism look silly, but because I had questions and perceptions I had yet to reconcile, and my own personal conflicts were construed as being willfully ignorant or attacks on vegetarianism, due to many times very similar words being used in this way, though with different tone. That's one reason why, if someone says something silly about veganism that I won't take it seriously unless it's downright insulting, but rather educate.

Buddha Belly
Jan 23rd, 2009, 08:03 AM
It's human nature now to be lazy and it is easier to be an omni/ veggie

Jan 23rd, 2009, 02:31 PM
Thank you all for sharing this.

So, I think we can learn a LOT from understanding these things.

I'll start taking notes.

My personal experience is that people don't have the time and energy to dedicate to the transition.

As someone here said, eve if it's not half as hard as people think, at the beginning it does take a bit of "effort" to stop eating as you used to and get informed.

I'll post it as a different thread, but in terms of hours I think it's safe to say
(?) that it would take at least a good hour (i think it took me about 15) to
learn how to get all the proper nutrients, where to go shopping for new ingredients, what recipes to make and how to veganize old one and just learning about the lives of factory farm animals and even more time if you want to find support around you
or go active.

So... let's say my 15 hours were too many and 3 would suffice.
(though i doubt that would include the hours spent trying out new recipes
and cooking in general)
Not everyone has 3 hours to spare plus the cooking and shopping .

Anyway, that's just my thought.
I think it's VERY important we stress that once you make the transition,
it's easy to be vegan or even easier to be a vegetarian, but maybe
we have to work on making such a transition even easier.

For instance, I live in a small town in a non vegan-friendly country.
To even understand where I could go find soy cream and egg substitutes took me
a few good days...
Also, in order to make myself a list of the actual food I needed daily to
get a proper intake of iron, protein and calcium, that took some more hours.
I have some intolerances, so i had to cross-reference a couple of lists in order
to find what was vegan, what was not trigging my migraines, and what was not
something I'm intolerant too.

Then once I found all that, and stockin my pantry, being vegan has been a smooth
ride, but there was no local vegan club for me to join and ask those things to.

It would have been so much easier if I could have just found a...


I just now thought about something!!!!

What about a national phone line for vegans to call ????

They could give out all sorts of information all day long in just one go !!!!!!

what do you guys think???

I'll give it some serious thought !
i'm quite excited actually..

Please let me know if you think this could be a good idea..!!!


Jan 23rd, 2009, 05:33 PM
One word: cheese.
That's just what they think. Obviously, all of us stopped thinking that when we took up veganism. I said that, too, before I gave it up. But going vegan has just made me realize that it's perfectly silly to say that one cannot give up what one has never even tried to give up.

Jan 23rd, 2009, 05:47 PM
Selfishness is the only reason. All excuses and reasoning comes from that.

Jan 23rd, 2009, 06:45 PM
Because they don't want to. And/or they see no reason why they should.
While I don't support or condone the choices non-vegans make, each of us has the right to follow our own path without judgement from others.

I find it difficult to understand those who believe that veganism is somehow the universal truth, without being able to consider what lies behind the choices other people make. Many times these choices may be flawed, but it's not always the case.

Jan 23rd, 2009, 07:21 PM
i think that quite a large % of humans are stupid, really. They live without thinking about what they do.

Jan 23rd, 2009, 07:34 PM
A large amount of people just dont care. People are not stupid, they know things are murdered for there taste buds but they like meat to much and dont care. I know many people that just laugh at my concern for animals and think i am over sensitive. As far as they are concerned animals are there to be eaten and humans are higher up on the food chain.
Some people just arnt able to go veggie/vegan because of there parents, some are just worried what they will eat and will they be able to cook as well as they can, they are worried about feeding there families and how they will react and some just dont give a darn.

Jan 23rd, 2009, 07:58 PM
I agree with what most people have said and also I think most humans find it difficult to be different/ outside of the mainstream. I read an article about two years ago and the journalist was saying how vegans aren't "normal." :rolleyes:

I think it is difficult to listen to vegan principles and reconcile them with real life and most omni's think that vegans are too extreme or that they are sickly or depriving themselves and they don't really understand the reasoning behind it.

I do think some people are just purely selfish though and do not care about what suffering they cause even when they know about it and that some people do not consider animal suffering to be equal to human suffering.

I think the environmental factor is much more likely to influence omni's, although I think there has been a backlash against the nanny state. If people were encouraged to cut down on meat and dairy and people knew that there were alternatives I think it would work. I think people might act out of self interest if veganism was promoted as beneficial to the environment and their own personal health.

Jan 23rd, 2009, 08:29 PM
Yeah, people are not "stupid." "Stupid" should not be equated with morality. There are plenty of sociopaths who couldn't care less about others and yet are frighteningly brilliant in their capacity to manipulate others. There are people who are extremely gregarious and yet have very poor understanding of the workings of their fellow humans.

I think we are so much a part of our culture and our society, it's hard to realize. If you had grown up in Aztec society, just a few centuries ago, it's highly unlikely that you would be vegan. If you have been taught to cling to things like food by their sheer abundance and by human dominance, then veganism presents something that much challenge these cultural teachings.

Jan 23rd, 2009, 09:43 PM

Jan 23rd, 2009, 09:44 PM

hard to deny that.

it's really my considered opinion (that many humans are stupid) from day to day observations :o

Jan 23rd, 2009, 10:00 PM
I believe a lot of people do know deep down that it is wrong to eat animals...........that's why they get so defensive when they meet a vegan............well, that's MY experience anyway!
They don't want to face that truth though, as they are selfish and only think about themselves and not other living beings!

Jan 23rd, 2009, 10:48 PM
As a new vegan, who spent about a year deciding, I can tell you what some of the things that delayed me were (and as BJNick says, they all come down to selfishness, no denying it)
- I think of myself as a sort of colourful person. My image of vegans was grey, knit your own lentil types who wore awful coats (I'm sorry to admit such a shallow thing was an obstacle to doing something so ethical). I only knew two vegans - one was my sister, who is actually a role model and nothing like the above. The other fulfilled the description above. Then I read loads of stuff, and the vegans seemed more funky to me, and I thought I could put up with the coats. I can't believe that I have honestly admitted that in public, and I don't like myself for it. I'm sure you guys are very funky! And I recast the image as radical opposition to our consumer culture (and yet I'm such a consumer), which I liked more. It was the sort of smell of puritanism that put me off. It didn't fit with my self image.
- I couldn't imagine what I would eat. My sister cooks fantastic food, but it requires a lot of effort. I ate mainly junk for a long time. I learnt to cook healthy vegetarian food, and then it was a much smaller step to jump to healthy vegan food
- I imagined that all Indian food was cooked with ghee. I didn't think I could live without Indian food. My solution was to learn to cook the food myself, but with veg oil. And I discovered my local Indian restaurant uses vegetable ghee for health reasons (not sure it's actually any healthier, I imagine its still saturated, but I'm not complaining)
- I didn't like any of the vegan cheeses and thought they were necessary. Now I know just not to eat them raw, they are better cooked (but best avoided!)
- I didn't want to inconvenience people. I eat with friends who cook for me a lot. I didn't want to put them out. Some rise to the challenge and relish it, some can't cope, so I cook for them.
- I did have concerns about health, that it wasn't possible to thrive without dairy products and eggs - but that was the problem most easily dealt with - I just read 'Plant based nutrition and health' - its a fantastic book
- I couldn't imagine what I would eat for lunch - what could I buy from a petrol station (where I always bought my lunch as my job involves driving round all day, visiting people in their homes). The answer is an apple and crisps, or avoid that cr*p altogether and bring sandwiches. The vegan society list of sandwich fillings was pretty crucial to my conversion.
- I read the stuff about animal cruelty on farms and thought it must be exaggerated as it bore no resemblance at all to my Dad's farm, where the animals are treated very well (right up until the moment they are brutally slaughtered). But my Dad's farm makes no money, and most farms aren't like that. And also, it isn't just about how you treat them before you kill / murder them, its that its wrong in the first place to treat a sentient being as a chattel.
- I thought it would hurt my family a lot, who regard my vegan sis as pretty weird in her veganism, but she did that as a teenager - I'm middle aged and rejecting their values.
Thats enough to start with eh?

Jan 23rd, 2009, 10:50 PM
I think a vegan phone line would have been great for me, but I wonder if it would attract the sort of trolls I have seen on the vegan vs non vegan bit. I suppose you could put the phone down or barr calls from that number.

Eat Y'self Fitter
Jan 24th, 2009, 09:19 AM
Ok, I've been a vegan almost a month, and I haven't eaten meat in 6-7 months. So I've been eating meat for 20 years of my life and almost 1 year not. Why did I not become vegan sooner? Simple, cultural reasons, everyone is so used to eating meat. Almost everyone does it and doesn't think twice about it. So when you have that programmed in your mind as thats what you should do it just seems natural.

When someone argues that animal products are cruel, bad to the enviroment etc you get defensive because thats what is ingrained in your head as right. Personally I thought vegans were assholes at first because I met someone who was kind of a militant vegan and that turned me off of the whole thing. However, I know now that we're just passionate.

Why I become vegan/vegitarian (at first)? I'm not sure to be honest with you, I have friends that were for a while however they diddn't influence me. I made the decision on my own out of nowhere. It just felt like the right thing to do at the time.

With all of my heart, I believe becoming vegan has been the best decision of my life! I feel healthier, I eat healthier and I feel good about what I eat and myself. I never really cared about much until I stopped eating meat, now I feel more socially aware.

But now I agree with you, now that I am vegan and I realise how easy it is, it seems ridiclous that people would eat and use animal products, but you can't really pressure anyone to change their ways. You can show them that there are other ways, but at the end of the day its a decision people will have to make for themselves.

Jan 24th, 2009, 10:53 AM
When someone argues that animal products are cruel, bad to the enviroment etc you get defensive because thats what is ingrained in your head as right.

That is so true Eat Y'self Fitter! :)

I had a discussion with someone a couple of weeks ago who argued with me that soya milk wasn't as 'healthy' as cow's milk. He was so sure he was right because that's what he had grown up thinking...........he didn't even consider the facts.
So, to back up my point I made a table listing the nutrients in both soya and cow's milk proving that soya is indeed preferable to cow's milk and emailed it to him! :smile:

(p.s. Verencemos, you'll never meet a group of people more 'funky' than us on the vegan forum!;) :D:))

Jan 24th, 2009, 01:07 PM
after a year of being vegan, it just keeps getting easier and easier, I did think it was going to be so much harder than it is. I would post the reasons I think, but they have been covered pretty well, not sure i can add much more

Jan 25th, 2009, 12:19 AM
We just did Burns night. The vegan haggis was the outright winner amongst even very confirmed carnivores. Wahey