If you have been following me on YouTube, you might have seen my TWO videos where I shared my top unpopular vegan opinions! If you haven’t seen them yet, simply click on the thumbnails below for Parts 1 and 2, or you could scroll down if you prefer to read~
Six unpopular vegan opinions — all from my two videos featured above! Just recently, I released a new video where I reacted to YOUR unpopular vegan opinions and the two videos above are what has inspired me to do so!
If you haven’t seen these videos yet, these ‘Unpopular Vegan Opinions’ videos are part of a playlist I call ‘Vegan Talks’. Aside from the recipes I share, I also make these Vegan Talks videos to help inspire healthy, intellectual discussions about important issues concerning veganism.
I made this blogpost to serve as a compilation of my SIX unpopular vegan opinions, all of which I also shared in the two videos I linked above. If you want to just watch, simply scroll up to watch and you can always scroll down again if you’d like to do a bit of light reading.
Unpopular Vegan Opinion #1: Going vegan from a health perspective is not convincing
There is an age-old argument way back to Socrates’ time when his brother Glaucon insisted that the only reason people would have good behaviour is if it is within their self-interest. Relating that to veganism, there will always be people who want to go vegan for their own health and not necessarily for the environment or for the animals.
When I was first delving into veganism, I was presented with different arguments on why I should go vegan. For me, the most convincing one was the ethics argument a.k.a. for the animals.
The health argument is convincing to a certain degree, but realistically speaking, I believe that you have to be extremely concerned with your health for you to completely eliminate animal products from your diet. While it completely makes sense to talk about the health aspects of a vegan diet, it does worry me that a lot of the vegan messaging is heavily focused on health and how it’s superior to a non-vegan diet. When you focus on the health argument, it also negates the other ways in which animals abuse/neglect/mistreat animals – such as in entertainment, fashion, product testing and more.
The reason why I think this opinion of mine is in the minority because I know there are still a lot of people who go plantbased for health reasons and eventually discover other reasons for making the ultimate choice to switch to a vegan lifestyle.
BUT I think using the health angle also attracts lots of people with orthorexic tendencies, who are more likely than the average person to follow “extreme” diets. The reality is that a lot of people who make the choice to go plantbased due to their health are also more likely to go “extreme” when it comes to trying to attain “perfect” health — which can ironically backfire and cause them to quit veganism “due to health reasons”. See the cycle?
Therefore, whilst I see the health benefits of a whole foods plant-based diet and whilst I also believe that we should be telling people that going vegan is not detrimental to their health (in fact, it will most likely do more good than bad), I don’t believe relying on a health-focused argument is NOT the ideal approach. After all, veganism is NOT a diet but it is a lifestyle driven by ethics.
Unpopular Vegan Opinion #2: You don’t have to be 100% plant-based to be healthy
You don’t have to be 100% of anything to be healthy! There is always a little wiggle room to be naughty LOL!
As a vegan, I eat healthy most of the time but I sometimes I still make some room for some of the unhealthy stuff — Beyond Burgers, french fries, vegan KFC, wine — you get the picture!
Your health is not just about your physical health; it’s so much more complicated than just the food you are eating. Being constantly stressed about what you eat and making sure everything is 100% whole foods plant-based, clean, and pure – this might eventually have a toll on your emotional and mental health (even on your social health!).
For me, the best way to approach this is from a balanced perspective. Why would it be convincing to tell people that you have to be 100% plant-based to be 100% healthy? For me, this argument doesn’t make sense because of the fact that people have been clamoring for some sense of perfection wherever they go, and by now we all know that it’s impossible to be 100% healthy. Even those that pride themselves on being super healthy will probably have a “cheat” meal once in a while.
This is why again, the only convincing argument for me is the ethics argument. That is what has made me vegan, and that is what will keep me vegan.
Unpopular Vegan Opinion #3: Mushroom, cauliflower, and jackfruit are not meat substitutes!
I had a video where I did mention mushroom and jackfruit being used as a meat substitute, but I also mentioned there that you can’t really use them as replacements for calories/nutrients.
Don’t get me wrong, I love cauliflower, jackfruit, and mushrooms, but I wouldn’t say that they’re proper meat substitutes because they won’t give you enough protein and calories and therefore, it will be easy for you to go hungry. They’re great to add in that chew factor, delicious flavour and also might give a similar consistency to meat, but these won’t give you the sufficient calories to keep you full.
Don’t get me wrong, using these ingredients is not a problem. It only becomes a problem if people think that these are actual meat substitutes. Whenever I use these in my meals, I still make it a point to add in more substantial sources of calories, fat, and protein (e.g. beans, lentils, tofu, nuts, seeds, even fake meats!).
Using low calorie vegetables and mushrooms as a meat substitute only gives people the false impression that vegan food simply isn’t filling – um, of course it’s not filling… you’re eating cauliflower! LOL.
Unpopular Vegan Opinion #4: Getting enough calories doesn’t mean you’re getting enough protein
Yes, vegetables and fruits also have protein. Although there are some vegetables like broccoli and artichoke that have high protein content, it is not nearly as high as the protein content found in tofu, beans, nuts, or seeds. Plus, you’d have to eat a LOT of broccoli to get about 10g of protein. If I compare eating tons of veggies (who has time to chew that much??) versus an acceptable amount of beans to meet my protein needs, I would readily choose the latter.
My point is that we should be advocating for the consumption of healthy higher protein options rather than just telling people they’ll be fine if they eat enough. I used to make the mistake of just “eating enough calories” and I constantly found myself hungry all the time or not satisfied. So I started to incorporate a more balanced approach and learnt how to structure my meals better.
So now, I structure my meals so that I have a higher carb source, a higher protein source (again: beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, etc), a small amount of healthy fats and some vegetables. This not only keeps your nutrition in check, but it’ll also help keep you satiated on a vegan diet for longer. And if you’re hungry all the time, it wouldn’t be fun being vegan, would it?
Unpopular Vegan Opinion #5: It is better to buy second hand leather than to buy new fake leather products
Now this, my friend, is one of those controversial points of debate out there because I know there are a lot of people like me who are against the use of leather in general. But hear me out.
I understand where people are coming from. For me, however, what I think will result in a better outcome is buying something that exists (even if it’s real leather) than going out and buying new items that are made of fake leather. I look at this from an environmental perspective and I know that there is so much waste involved in the fashion industry. If something is already created, isn’t it better to reuse them instead of creating new products that are potentially damaging to the environment?
On the other hand, I am not saying that vegan products are necessarily environmentally damaging; but in a world where there is so much consumption and so many products being made and thrown out, I might as well use it rather than let it end up as waste in a landfill somewhere.
I am, of course, completely against the idea of buying new leather products as it contributes to the awful leather industry. I do also hope that one day we can live in a world where we’ve phased out leather altogether and we no longer abuse and kill animals so we can wear a nice handbag. But until we get to that point, another issue to focus on should be our environment.
Unpopular Vegan Opinion #6: Yes, you can be an “ex-vegan”
Whenever somebody (especially influencers and other public figures) quits veganism, people are quick to say that “he/she was never vegan”!
Basically, I’m of the opinion that yes, you can be an ex-vegan!
But before we talk about why I think so, let’s take a look at the following first.
Fact #1: It’s important to make the distinction between “vegan” and “plant-based”.
Every vegan follows a plant-based diet, but not all who are plant-based identify as vegan. This is an important distinction to make. However, just because somebody quit veganism doesn’t mean they were never vegan in the first place. This leads us to Fact #2.
Fact #2: People have different circumstances which is why some ethical vegans quit veganism.
We are human; we are inherently flawed and messed up, and that includes being susceptible to change.
Even if you’ve made an ethical connection, it is possible that your personal ethics could change for various reasons. First, living in a world that is 99.99% not vegan can be a constant challenge, especially because we are social creatures that want to fit in with society. We are constantly adapting to new information and trying to fit in all at the same time. To believe that someone’s ethics or ethical philosophy will constantly remain the same once they’ve “seen the light” is to live in denial, in my opinion. And even if someone’s ethical philosophy might not change, humans have been known to act unethically, even if they knew it wasn’t right. This happens ALL the time. Unfortunately, vegans are not immune to this.
In the end, I believe it is important to have an open dialogue about why someone decided to quit veganism, even though it seemed that they had made the ethical connection. Instead of doing that, the vegan community likes to call them out and shame them by simply pointing fingers and saying they were never vegan. This just gives the vegan community a very “militant” and cult-like image, doesn’t it? .
(Which leads me to my last unpopular vegan opinion!)
Unpopular Vegan Opinion #7: “Militant” veganism is needed!
Everyone has a different opinion on what is “militant”, “extreme”; what is “crazy” and what is not.
One of the things that I used to pride myself on when I first started YouTube five years ago was receiving comments that said “Oh! I’m so happy that you’re just a normal person that happens to be vegan, and that you’re not one of those crazy vegans!”
I like to think that people like me (a.k.a the “chill” vegans) are necessary because people need to be able to relate to someone who doesn’t necessarily fit the stereotype of the “crazy vegan”.
However, at the same time, I believe vegan/animal rights activists who are deemed “militant” or “extreme” when it comes to veganism are also necessary. I find them quite admirable because they really don’t care what other people think as long as they are fighting for the cause. Not saying that everything they do is strategically right, but there’s just something admirable about how they represent the advocacy.
I remember going to the screening of a movie called “Animal People” which was produced by Joaquin Phoenix. The movie is about a group of animal rights activists who were college students and were very heavily participating in animal rights activism at a time when veganism wasn’t really well-known (highly recommend this movie!).
Watching that movie, I realized that that kind of extreme energy is what actually drives the movement forward. If these people did not exist, and if these people were more like me who are “chill”, I would probably have never gone vegan. There would not be people who are courageous enough to film footage of animal abuse, break into animal testing facilities, free minks from fur farms, etc. and it would be much harder for people to see what’s really going on.
So there goes my 7 unpopular vegan opinions! I hope this was a good read for you. What are your thoughts?
Recently, I also released a video where I reacted to several unpopular vegan opinions from my audience, and you can easily watch it by heading over to the video below.