People who have never been vegan often assume that the obvious culprits are what we miss most: hot slices of bacon; late-night pizza; and big, melty bowls of double-chocolate-cherry ice cream. While most vegans do miss at least one (read: probably all) of these treats, what we end up struggling the most with aren’t individual foods at all. Instead, we miss...
1. The complete and utter convenience of eating basically whatever.
When meat, dairy, cheese, and eggs are part of your diet, the whole world is basically yours for the taking: And that’s whenever and however you like, and with total ease, in any country, at any hour of the day. When you’re vegan, however, you quickly begin to realize just how much you took that convenience for granted.
2. Being able to eat lunch around non-vegans without it seeming like a grand political statement.
If your meal doesn’t contain a single animal product, then you can bet that Bobby Burgerlover will have something to say about it. You end up learning to be as low-key as possible, so as not to provoke another heated debate regarding the implied snooty politics of your three-bean burrito.
3. Ordering a latte without worrying that they may have used the wrong milk for it.
Even when you see the barista handling a carton of almond or soy milk, in the back of your mind, there’s always that little voice suggesting that it’s really dairy milk you’re enjoying. Of course, that’s rarely the case: Baristas are pros, and dairy milk has such a specific taste and smell that when you haven’t had it for so long, it’s obvious when you’re accidentally consuming it. But still. The fear is real, y’all. And it’s never-ending.
4. Being able to go food shopping without having to intricately scan every food label.
Seriously, cow milk cannot be so vital an ingredient that its prevalence in just about every processed and pre-made food item feels warranted. Why is it in everything?
5. Having more than a couple of meal options at most restaurants.
While there are (thankfully!) more and more vegan-friendly options at a lot of restaurants, not to mention a rise in restaurants that specifically cater to the vegan diet, it can still be tough out there. Particularly when you’re heading to a place chosen by a friend or family member whose vegan options are as extensive as a side salad, fries, or a stuffed pepper. Devastating.
6. Hanging out with your meat-obsessed friends.
We all have at least a couple people we love dearly and who politely don’t invite you to the latest vegan-option-free steakhouse or to watch them complete a monstrous burger challenge, and you appreciate that. After all, you don’t invite them to your vegan joints, either. But it also means you don’t see nearly enough of each other, and damn, do you miss them for it.
7. Drinking any beer or wine without having thoroughly researched it in advance.
A substance called isinglass, derived from the swim bladders of fish, is added to a lot of beer and wine—and naturally, that troubles vegans. It also means that you spend an unwieldy amount of time trying to research exactly which bottles of booze you can drink without having to get all fishy. Suffice to say, this can seriously alter your drinking habits while you’re hitting the bars. Best stick to vodka, eh?
8. Eating a drunken feast without questioning what the hell it might actually be.
Relatedly: Oh, for the days when you could grab a handful of your friends’ fries without fretting about whether they’re fried in tallow, or whatever. That vegan alarm always starts ringing the second you just want to eat something without thinking.
9. Being able to eagerly partake in free treats at work.
Whether it’s the holidays, a Friday, or someone’s birthday, having to decline snacks with your co-workers could genuinely be one of the toughest parts of veganism. Having to tell Linda that her homemade brownies look and smell divine but that you simply can’t indulge in them is a torment that you will take with you to the grave.
10. Not having to conduct a thorough investigation in order to buy makeup, health supplements, or skin care.
Vegans don’t just have to look out for items that directly contain animal products, we’re also aware of ingredients that contain animal derivatives—and many don’t explicitly state that fact. Worse still, there are so many beauty, skin care, and health companies who are proudly vegan, who you later find out are owned by a larger company that still test products on animals. All of which is to say, it’s a minefield out there. It’s best sticking to independent companies who are certified as cruelty-free and vegan, obviously. But even then, sometimes you have to do a lot of research just to find them.
11. And being able to buy whatever clothes and accessories you damn well please.
The heartbreak of finding your perfect pair of shoes only to discover they’re partly, or totally, made of leather, is one that vegans know all too well.
12. Travel without having to bring emergency provisions.
You’ll never forget that 10-hour journey on which all you could consume was a smoothie and a bag of chips because every service station and convenience store you came across simply provided little else suitable. Ever since then, you’ve packed sandwiches, salads, granola bars, leftover pasta, and an assortment of fruits to travel with just in case.