Vegans, and vegan food in particular, get a lot of slander in general; with the general notion being that vegans are following a strict diet; vegan food is boring and doesn’t taste good.
Genuinely, one of the main reasons as to why people don’t want to attempt a short-term vegan diet is not just the lack of meat and dairy.
But it’s the fact that they think a vegan diet would compromise taste or texture; due to how used they are to have been eating meat for the majority of their life.
I’ve been there. Personally, I used to eat a lot of meat, dairy (literally every day) a glass of milk in the morning, omelettes daily.
We, as people, love comfort food: Pizza, Sausages, Tacos, Croissants, Ice Cream, Jelly – Mainly coming from animal-based products, and when thinking of a vegan diet I remember thinking, well – What can they even eat?
Which is always the stereotypical question: What can vegans eat? Check my recent post on what vegans can eat, to see the true variety and evolution in food options we have to this day.
To get back to the point, I was hesitant on giving this diet a go due to me feeling that the food options would be limited; I wouldn’t enjoy the vegan foods that I could eat, as I’d miss my “old foods”.
I’ve come up with a few reasons as to why the vast majority of people won’t give vegan food, let alone the diet, a go. And what the actual reality is in terms of what vegan food has to offer.
When it comes to the general public, and their mindset toward vegan food, it can go a few ways.
People don’t eat vegetables, so assume it won’t taste nice
Remember as a child, you always heard your parents say “eat your vegetables”. I personally also had my mother telling me to “eat my meat” growing up. The fact of the matter is, meat eaters, or “omnivores”, in general do not eat enough vegetables.
So if there was a new food specifically marketed as vegan. due to their oversaturation of meat in their diet; they’d feel that the vegetable option would be of lower quality or less tasty than the general meat choice.
The main difference between a meat-centric and plant-based food is that meat tends to have more fat and salt in it; therefore may provide the illusion that a vegan burger may not live up to the same expectation.
I’ve had my share of bad veggie burgers in the past; literal crispy patties filled with mashed potatoes and sweetcorn; so I understand why some would have trust issues.
Much like raisin cookies, that many would prefer to eat chocolate chip; that may also be associated with vegans and their general approach on foods.
But with a more open perspective people could come to realise that vegan foods have been tailored to appeal to meat eaters too.
When we grow up a lot of us are watching television. We generally grow up, unless you’re a complete star, with the mindset that veggies aren’t really tasty, and we’d rather eat the beige and brown of the plate.
Truth is, many adults have not grown out of that mindset.
I’ve worked at places where they eat the exact same bacon and chicken mayo pasta every single day for a year and live on canned pepsi yet they say it’s too difficult to go vegan; of course you’d think that if you’re unwilling to at least have some variety in your diet!
With all the meat-centric places to eat, the smells of meat everywhere down a busy high street, billboards, TV and radio ads depicting the latest bacon double cheeseburger, it would appear abnormal to go against the norm and eat something that isn’t so heavily advertised.
Think about it: People are literally going against their subconscious if they don’t choose a meat option that’s been heavily advertised, hence why so little people are vegan or try the options.
So we have to consider the fact that a lot of it is on a psychological level.
Meat eaters think vegans eat “fake foods”
Again, because I have been there personally.
I’m sure we all have, on some level, seen a vegan recipe that looks amazing, something like “vegan strawberry cheesecake recipe”; you see one angry keyboard warrior completely raging at the premise that our cheesecake isn’t real as it doesn’t contain real cheese.
You’re right Jonathan, the cream cheeze is based from cashews. This is just one example, in the past decade we as a vegan community can now enjoy vegan forms of:
Milk, cheese, eggs, burgers, sausage rolls, as well as croissants, jelly and even fried Chick’n.
No, these aren’t based from animal products, yes they can be named after them.
Because most, if not the vast majority of modern vegans initially ate meat, dairy and other comfort foods that have traces of one or the other. We stopped eating those foods for our own reasons, be it health or more ethical reasoning.
With our range of options we now have delicious, creative “transitional” foods if you will, that are based from vegan ingredients. Such as soy or vital wheat gluten, that somewhat capture the old textures, and tastes that don’t come from regular vegetables and fruits.
Not that we want foods to taste like meat, as a dead piece of cow doesn’t equate to a burger patty, the herbs, spices and texturing does that; but we want to be able to enjoy comfort foods based off cleaner ingredients.
The issue is people’s attachments to their comfort foods. That they feel the need to attack the concept of a vegan version of cheese, or meat.
Regardless of whether it’s based on the same thing, if you were to try some of these products they have nowadays; like say in a burger you order at a pub; I can guarantee you would be very unlikely to tell the difference.
A lot of us from the UK remember the recent Piers Morgan drama regarding the vegan sausage roll. That actually gave the movement a good boost so good on you!
The point was: He was mad because Greggs called it a vegan sausage roll, and it didn’t contain pork parts.
Many people in general view meat and dairy products as natural, and these processed vegan products as “fake food” as it is processed; with burgers, and a wide variety of other meat and dairy products not just coming from old McDonald’s farm.
People do need to look further into the food they’re eating. If they are to give a reason to turn down vegan food: it certainly shouldn’t be because of the quality.
“Vegan food has no flavour”
This is yet another large misconception about vegan food in general, being that, vegan food has no flavour.
This is mainly due to poor quality catering for vegans for meat-centric fast food joints as well as restaurants. So the general public who may want to try a vegan option at one of these places may be disappointed.
Poor range of vegan options
One of the main caveats to going vegan: Is the fact that nearly everywhere you go; you can almost expect to be basing your meal off of side menu items; or settling with the one or two vegan options available.
One example is if you were to go into McDonalds to try vegan food – you’d be disappointed with the one burger option, and fries.
Whereas if you were to visit an exclusively vegan restaurant, you would try vegan food made by chefs; who care about palletes of both vegans and meat eaters alike.
If you’ve heard of how jackfruit is being used in recipes for veganised pulled pork, you’d assume everywhere they have a jackfruit burger option it would follow the same premise.
Unfortunately some of these fast food joints are in fact clueless and just try to jump on trends; not truly understanding why we as vegan enjoy jackfruit; ending up offering a jackfruit burger option that tastes like crisp, encrusted mashed potato.
Poor quality vegan options at fast food joints, and let’s not forget restaurants. Yet another reason why people don’t really enjoy vegan food.
Some people don’t cook enough
A big reason why many people think are diet is so much more limited than it is, and have the misconception that we don’t eat good food, is because they simply don’t have enough variety in their daily diet to recognise.
Someone who thinks a vegan only eats salads and in their world, although they can put chicken, etc in it, who doesn’t even enjoy salads themselves, tells a lot about the type of person that doesn’t enjoy vegan food.
Variety is where it begins, if you’re open to experimenting and like flavour, a vegan diet is for you.
When you experiment with enough food, you start to learn the main textures come from pungent spices, aromatic vegetables, and combinations of each. Meat absorbs this flavour, and a lot of people instead misconstrue meat as the source of this taste.
When you eat enough variety of beans (I have over 3 types of lentils and 10 types of legumes alone, in my pantry) and spices, you will come to learn that the range flavour and variety. The enjoyment of food only starts to begin once you start cooking vegan dishes.
Lack of vegan options, in general
It does, in basic terms boil down to lack of options, in general – Let’s go through it.
Snacks and that
Chocolates, sweets, gummies, cakes, pastries, cookies, bread. All of these, well, the vast majority, have traces of animal products in them. Be it milk in the form of whey, milk, or cheese, eggs or gelatine, even food colourings.
Associating these snacks with treats, and somewhat logically, linking veganism with the limitation of these occasional treats. Makes sense, one may not want to try a vegan option for fear of missing out on enjoyable confectionary, in essence.
The fact that people think like this may also dissociate vegan food with tasting “good”, also turning people away from vegan options; when in reality: there are a wide range of vegan friendly snacks that don’t compromise quality.
As well as a range of accidentally vegan snacks that weren’t intentionally made to be vegan.
Poor range of vegan options at meat-centric restaurants
As most food in Western society is mainly based off a type of meat or smothered in cheese, vegans often find that their variety hits its plateau once we come into random restaurant territory.
Restaurants, not all but most, have the bad habit of providing an array of meat options, a few “veggie” options; usually worshiping an egg or a handful of cheese, and maybe one plain tomato and olive pasta as the vegan option.
It’s no wonder customers aren’t inclined to gravitate to the vegan option; it’s no wonder why people have the general assumption our options for food are limited – It’s because they are, or have been.
Things do seem to be changing, with restaurants like Nandos offering a good few options; a bit of variety in what types of meals available; but for people to consider vegan options they need to be prevalent.
If you’re a vegan and have non-vegan friends who haven’t yet been to a vegan restaurant, take them to one and show them what the vegan world truly has to offer; how you still eat the same foods, just from a different source.
Open the perspective and you’ll realise that there’s an array of options for vegan snacks and enjoyable foods out there to enjoy; as we’ve covered in a previous post on foods that you won’t miss out on as a vegan.
Does vegan food taste bad?
Vegan food does not taste bad. Coming from a chronic ex-meat eater who loved barbeques, burgers, lasagna and mac and cheese.
I can genuinely say that being vegan has not stopped me from being able to enjoy any one of the foods I used to think I would miss out on. It’s made me start a site dedicated to veganising all my favourite meals I used to enjoy back in the day.
Part of the reason why I started vegansing it was to open the perspective for other current meat eaters considering a vegan diet, or a slight adjustment, for health. Or just curious; to help them realise that with this lifestyle does not come with a compromise in lifestyle, variety, or taste.
Once you start experimenting and finding the tastes you like, you start questioning why you ever ate meat. Questioning: What even made animal products, taste good in the first place?