167 Returned Ex-Vegans

We are FINALLY doing our Returned Ex-Vegans episode, woohoo! Today we bring you five unique and moving stories about people who went vegan, stopped being vegan, and became vegan again. Their stories illuminate the many reasons why we need to have compassion for those who struggle to stay vegan in this non-vegan world, and why we need to have an inclusive, sensitive, anti-capitalist movement that goes beyond defining veganism by consumption.  

In This Episode

We want to say a deeply heartfelt thank you to our five contributors for their amazing stories. We lucked out that all stories were unique, each showing different sides of why being vegan is so hard for so many people, and how sometimes it takes a few tries to have it stick.

Their Stories

Struggled with: disordered eating
Favorite quote:
Now that I’m approaching veganism from a healthy mindset, I don’t restrict myself from any foods. My therapist and I agreed that my lifestyle should still be restriction-free, but I no longer consider animals food (for me). I know that is a privilege that I have, and I don’t hold anyone else to that definition of food, but for me, it’s what works and keeps me mentally healthy. I’ve also shifted away from a food-centric veganism. Yes, food is obviously important for veganism, but there’s also planet-destroying-capitalism, plastic waste in the ocean, makeup products, testing on animals, the fashion industry, and using animals for entertainment. My veganism has expanded beyond food, and that’s been absolutely critical in keeping mental health in check.
Struggled with: white cis hetero-patriarchial vegan community, PETA, lack of options
Favorite quote:
I don’t give a shit if being vegan is trendy, and vegan assholes won’t bring me down or dampen my commitment to reducing the harm I do in the world as much as possible. Veganism has become part of my anti-exploitation activism, and I am sure that as I move through this world I will find even more aspects of exploitation I participate in that I had never considered before.
Struggled with: convenience, conviction and community
Favorite quote:
In early 2017 I found the idea of being vegan was something I couldn’t let go of, and the back and forth was getting me down and I felt like a bit of a failure with it. I decided to give it one last go, all in with no exceptions. I felt like in order to stick with it this time, I needed to find a community and actively involve myself in veganism as activism not just as a diet if I wanted to make it stick.
Struggled with: family pressure, finances
Favorite quote:
I have been feeling really great about our current state of veganism especially since I have transitioned to being ethically vegan instead of being a health vegan. I can easily say to my family “Violence is not part of our family’s values.” And they shut up. I still get made fun of and sneered at plenty by the people who supposedly would support me no matter what, and love me unconditionally, but right now at least my nuclear family is vegan.
Struggled with: wanting to fit in, rebelling against parents
Favorite quote:
Sometimes I get frustrated when the people I love don’t understand how I feel about animals. But then I have to remind myself that I was raised vegan, and it still took me 24 years to make the choice to be vegan for myself.
Joke in the Middle
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    • I’m a new listener and I’m really enjoying your episodes! I have a question about Peta – y’all have mentioned how they’re terrible and while I’m familiar with some of their PR disasters, I was wondering if there are additional criticisms from a leftist perspective. If you have any links or could point me to an episode where this is explained, that would be much appreciated!
        • Also just wanted to follow up and thank you for mentioning the immense cultural pressures to eat animal products. My mom’s family is Italian (grandparents are from Italy) and I am very close with them. Food is the main way we connect in my family and while they have been respectful of my vegetarianism for the past 10 years (mainly because it’s relatively easy to be vegetarian with the numerous non-meat sides and pasta dishes in traditional southern Italian cuisine), they don’t get veganism at all. Because I still want to participate in our food traditions, I make an exception for non-vegan foods when I am at family functions. While part of me feels bad about this, I realize that this connection is important to me and I don’t want to give it up, especially while my grandfather is still alive. It’s also been a good opportunity for me to expose my family to veganized versions of our favorite foods and they’ve been pretty receptive so far to the stuff I’ve cooked. Anyway, thanks for pointing that out. These stories are excellent.
    • Hello, I am new to your podcast and really was enjoying it until you drew a line in the sand regarding different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. I just want to point out as a vegan from a Irish/British/Scandinavian background…we too feel the pressure/exclusion from family. My family does not roll their eyes at me and accept my lifestyle…they exclude my daughter and I from a lot of family events. For instance, today is my dad’s birthday and we are not invited because it is at a steak house and they knew we do not eat steak and would not want to go there. So therefore, they did not invite us. We are missing my dad’s birthday. This is extremely hurtful to myself and my daughter, who happen to be the only vegans in the family. I just think you should be aware that white vegans are being excluded from family events and their celebrations as well. All the best…

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