Dining and Socializing Can Be Challenging As A Vegan

Caffeinated Thoughts
5 min readMar 7, 2023

Challenges of being vegan — Part two

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

This article is part 2 of a 5-part series on real world challenges one can expect to face while following a vegan diet. Read part 1 here.

Here’s the second structural issue you might face once you start following the vegan diet:

Inability in choosing a location when dining out with friends, relatives, and colleagues/having unnecessary conversations around veganism

Unnecessary conversations

The second biggest challenge with regards to veganism are the constraints and restrictions around whom you can hang around with and where.

Here’s an example of how I play it out when it comes to socialization:
(Hint: I use the avoidance tactic.)

I recently made a new set of friends. I haven’t even told them I’m vegan, yet I was glad when one of them bought coffee for the group while we were out socializing and two of them happened to be Oat Milk Lattes. I preferred the oat milk latte, obviously. But no one asked me why. I’d met them only a few minutes ago. Why would they? Anyways, the presence of a vegan option saved me the embarrassment of having to reject everything and start explaining what veganism is, why I’m vegan, how I stay vegan, blah blah blah, which is such a time, mind, and energy suck.

What’s the point I’m trying to make here?

Veganism isn’t for the socially awkward introvert or the shy and reserved personality. Veganism forces you to get out of your comfort zone and have conversations with people you otherwise wouldn’t have had. Uncomfortable conversations.

People don’t leave it at, “oh you went vegan for health/the animals/environment? Okay cool then. You do you.”

Nope, that’s not how it usually unfolds. I’m not saying all of them do this, but many meat eaters whom you cross paths with will just probe and probe and probe till all your social energy is drained for the day and all you want to do is go home.

“Veganism isn’t for the socially awkward introvert or the shy and reserved personality. Veganism forces you to get out of your comfort zone and have conversations with people you otherwise wouldn’t have had. Uncomfortable conversations.”

No choice when it comes to dining outside

Even keeping aside all the unnecessary conversations, you will have no say in the choice of eatery or restaurant that everyone wants to go to. The restaurant of their choice may have vegan options or none at all. No guarantees there! If there happens to be any vegan options available at their choice, then well and good. If not, then enjoy your boring garden salad as the rest of the group enjoys lip-smacking delicacies. (I say lip-smacking delicacies here because vegan versions of the very same food exist out there, and you could be stuffing your face too if you weren’t situationally handicapped with this bunch. This is unless you’re vegan for health reasons, of course.).

The news constantly reminds us that the world of veganism is growing by leaps and bounds. Previously, vegans used to be stumped for options when it came to eating outside. But since we’re in the age of innovation now, plant-based options are everywhere. We have mock meat, ice creams, desserts, pizzas, cakes and pastries, all plant-based and 100% cruelty-free. But what’s the point if you’re situationally handicapped?

As a lone vegan amongst a pack of non-vegans, I am still being forced to graze on garden variety vegan fare at non-vegan restaurants just because the group decided to go there. Look. It may be 2023, and a vegan version of every single non-vegan item might be available somewhere out there. But if it isn’t available right when and where I want it, it's as good as non-existent.

Situationally, it's still 2009 for me, isn’t it?

“As a lone vegan amongst a pack of non-vegans, I am still being forced to graze on garden variety vegan fare at non-vegan restaurants just because the group decided to go there.”

You don’t expect me to break up with all of my friends and go chasing after a vegan bunch just because we happen to follow the same diet, do you? Friendships are formed on many commonalities, and food is just one of them.

You might make a bunch of vegan friends from your vegan potluck gang, a meetup, a vegan board games group, or whatever. But there’s no guarantee they’re going to be your ride-or-die buddies. The world is too dynamic for that. You can expect them to be in your out-circle group of friends at best.

Most of us only get lucky if we find another vegan by our side, whether at college, university, at work, or while living in a new country. And we should be blessed to have them. But they’re only good-to-haves at best. For the long ride, you’re all on your own.

Conclusion

When the world of vegan food and innovations in the plant-based space are forever expanding, it pains one to walk into a non-vegan joint in 2023 only because its what the majority of their group wants. With all the amazing ice creams, pizzas, doughnuts, cakes and pastries, and other confectionery being veganized out there, you’re forced to dine on garden variety fare just because the group chose to go there. After all, one cannot force the group to go to a vegan restaurant just because it suits oneself.

Have you ever come across such tricky or dicey social situations where you were forced to explain your veganism to the group? Have you ever been put on the spot where you were the only vegan amongst a bunch of others at a particular event, outing, or get-together?

How did you play your cards in such situations? Were there opportunities for you to give it back to the people pulling your leg, but you didn’t want to hurt a common friend, and so kept quiet? Were there other occasions you had to let go just because you were all out of your social energy for the day? Or sometimes you just to let go in the bigger interest of the friendship? Were there other times you gave it back to the meat eater fair and square, for every word they uttered? How did that play out for you later? Veganism is, after all, a political decision.

Do let me know in the comments section to the side.

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Caffeinated Thoughts

No niche in particular. I am a keen observer of society and gain my inspiration for new articles from observation.