13 Undeniable Cons of a Vegan Diet (and How to Avoid Them)

By Scott Burgett | 4.11.18

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13 Undeniable Cons of a Vegan Diet (and How to Avoid Them) | Veganism Pros and Cons




There is no perfect diet. Whether vegan, ketogenic, Atkins, blood type, or the paleo diet, there has yet to be one strategy that works for everyone. That’s because everyone responds to food differently.

Unlike other diet strategies that focus exclusively on one’s health outcomes, a vegan diet has a deeper-rooted meaning. Specifically, avoiding animal products because of the cruelty and suffering needed to create them.

Yet even with all of the great health and environmental benefits of eating vegan, it’s still not perfect. So whether you’re knee-deep in vegan eating or just about to dip your toes into the water, continue reading to learn the quick fix methods to overcome the most common challenges of a vegan diet.


1. You could gain weight


Over the past year, the vegan product market reached $3.1 billion dollars in sales and still continues to climb. Vegan snack foods, alternative cheeses and mock meats, and ice creams are now becoming common place in households. This type of consumerism typically leads to poor dietary choices, which in turn can lead to weight gain.

The most nutritious vegan diet stems from whole plant foods that are unprocessed and unaltered. If it comes in a bag, it’s usually loaded with cheap vegetable oil, sodium, and/or sugar.


Quick Fix:

  • As a rue of thumb, fill 50% of your grocery cart with produce (fresh or frozen) every shopping trip


2. It lacks nutrients


On paper, eating a vegan diet makes it more challenging to obtain vital nutrients that your body needs. Those nutrients are iron, calcium, and zinc. However, with proper planning, you can meet the recommended daily intake for each one.

The most respected professional nutrition organization in the world, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, agrees that an “appropriately planned vegetarian, including vegan, diets are healthful, nutritionally adequate and may provide health benefits for the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”


Quick Fix:

  • Soak your dry beans before cooking to increase zinc absorption
  • Pairing foods high in Vitamin C with iron increases absorption by up to 500%
  • Drink calcium-fortified plant milk


3. You lose your most prominent source of Vitamin B12


The most prominent source of Vitamin B12 in our society today is meat. That’s because livestock and other animals grown for slaughter are fed this supplement in their food.

Vitamin B12 is well-known for its role in neurological development, as well as blood cell formation. In other words, it helps to protect our brains and build our DNA.

Given it’s importance to our bodily functions, health professionals recommend that adults over 50 years of age supplement with Vitamin B12, regardless of their diet. More specifically, the National Institutes of Health recommend healthy adults take 2.4 micrograms (mg) daily.

Most supplements are 1,000 mg per dose, more than enough to cover the daily recommendation. You can also eat B12 fortified foods like Bragg Nutritional Yeast or Eden Foods Soy Milk.


Quick Fix:

  • For pennies on the dollar, you could easily be covered for a full year with a supplement


13 Undeniable Cons of a Vegan Diet (and How to Avoid Them) | Veganism Pros and Cons


4. You lose your primary source of Omega-3s


In the Standard American Diet, fish is the primary source of Omega-3 fatty acids. This fatty acid is important for proper brain development, regulating blood clotting, and reducing cholesterol.

There are three different chains of Omega-3s: ALA, DHA, and EPA. ALA is essential, as we can only obtain it through diet.

EPA and DHA can be obtained from an ALA fat source or be consumed through either food or supplements.

In order to ensure you’re getting the proper dose of ALA in your diet, simply eat whole foods like flax seeds and English walnuts. Vegetable oils are another source of ALA Omega-3’s, but should be used sparingly.


Quick Fix:


5. It can set unrealistic expectations


Today’s culture looks towards health as perfection. Magazines, TV ads, and internet pop-ups market sex, beautiful bodies, and rock hard abs in as little as 10 minutes a day! By now, you know it’s not that easy.

Eating a vegan diet does not mean automatic health, happiness, and a shrinking waistline either. It takes consistency and dedication to avoid eating animal products. Plus, it’s easy to fall into eating a junk food vegan diet, which will edge you further away from the health you’re seeking.

Although, you might be relieved to know that if you stick to a vegan diet that is whole foods based, your chances of success increase dramatically. Once you decide to transition, take it one day at a time.


Quick Fix:

  • Avoid comparing your results others, as everyone’s situation is different
  • Keep learning about all the positives of a vegan diet
  • If you’re new to cooking, follow easy to make recipes


13 Undeniable Cons of a Vegan Diet (and How to Avoid Them) | Veganism Pros and Cons


6. It can cause gas and bloating


Beans and high fiber vegetables are a staple of a vegan diet. At the beginning, gas and bloating are one of the most commonly cited complaints of a vegan diet. Due to the huge influx of high fiber foods like beans, broccoli, and leafy greens, this can cause discomfort.

High fiber foods are great for your gut, but need some time to adapt, especially when coming from a meat-heavy diet. Luckily, these side effects disappear in as little as a month.


Quick Fix: 

  • Eat smaller meals more frequently
  • Ease into harder to digest foods like cruciferous vegetables, onions, and garlic
  • Avoid carbonated drinks and gum
  • Eat ginger, sip herbal teas, and exercise regularly


7. It could interfere with medications


A vegan diet is well-known for its health promoting effects. People who have transitioned have been able to cut their daily medication intake by as much as half, and others have ditched them completely.

But it’s still important to realize that certain dietary changes can affect drug interactions, so always make sure to talk with your doctor before transitioning.

One notable blood thinner, Warfarin, can have negative interactions with dark, green leafy vegetables like spinach or kale. Additionally, soy milk, char-grilled foods, and sushi containing seaweed may also decrease the effect of Warfarin.


Quick Fix:

  • If you take medications and want to transition to a vegan diet, talk with your doctor first. Keep the line of communication open to prevent unfavorable drug reactions


8. A strict vegan diet isn’t always easy to follow


Following a strict vegan diet is sometimes challenging. Constantly reading nutrition labels and explaining your needs to restaurant servers can get exhausting at times. Labels make it easier to identify vegan options now, but in everyday products, it’s hard to identify all animal-derived ingredients.

Other weekly traditions like office birthday parties and social outings become temptations versus celebrations. Fresh baked goods, that sometimes sneak honey into the ingredients are difficult to identify, unless there is a label.

Other hard to identify non-vegan ingredients are conventional items like confectioners glaze on candies which is derived from insects, isinglass that is extracted from fish bladders to make beer and wine, and L-cysteine (duck feathers) that is used in bread products.

When in doubt, put it down. If you’re unsure whether or not a product is vegan, assume it isn’t. There are very few situations where you have to eat what is served.


Quick Fix:


13 Undeniable Cons of a Vegan Diet (and How to Avoid Them) | Veganism Pros and Cons


9. You could have difficulty when dining out


Vegan dining options continue to grow, but given the relatively young age of mainstream vegan eating, options are not plentiful. At first you may find it difficult or cumbersome to plan dining out. However, as time goes on, this becomes much easier and more fun too.

Eating vegan is particularity difficult with invitational food outings. Unless the event organizer knows your dietary restrictions, there will times when your meal is made up of side dishes.

This is one of the first noticeable cons of the diet you can overcome with a couple of easy solutions.


Quick Fix:

  • Search menus online using Google, Yelp or Happy Cow
  • Call the restaurant ahead of time and ask them to prepare a special meal for you (I’ve done this several times; chefs are very accommodating)
  • Memorize common non-vegan ingredients for ease of explanation with your server
  • Suggest a vegan-friendly restaurant to your group ahead of time


10. Planning new meals can be monotonous


Let’s face it, meal planning isn’t always fun. Sometimes you just want to hit the easy button and voila, your meal is ready. Since a vegan diet is naturally restrictive, planning ahead of time is crucial.

Thankfully there are meal planning resources likes Pinterest, vegan food bloggers, and Google. Even though it’s easier to hop in your car, grab fast food, and call it a night, it’s not worth it. Most of the benefits from eating vegan start at home in your kitchen.

Preparing bulk meals in advance is an easy strategy. Slow-cooker recipes are a great place to start. You could also double up any recipe you decide to cook so there are leftovers the following night.


Quick Fix:

  • Eat the same breakfast and lunch each day. This will dramatically cut down on your food decisions and save you from unhealthy, impulse purchases
  • Use Pinterest, Google, or other tasty recipe resources to plan out your meals for the week
  • Go for frozen! Frozen fruits and veggies make for easy prep and consumption. They are just as, if not more nutritious than their fresh counterparts


13 Undeniable Cons of a Vegan Diet (and How to Avoid Them) | Veganism Pros and Cons


11. It can feel carb heavy


Fact: the majority of plant foods are carbohydrates. Take a look at the new food pyramid and you’ll notice four of the five categories are carbohydrate dense.

It’s no wonder the longest living populations on earth thrive on a diet high in carbohydrates.

For most coming from the traditional diet heavy in meat, dairy, and processed foods, it’ll feel like you’re eating too many carbs. That’s a fair thought when 97% of Americans do not consume the recommended amount of fiber (carbs) each day.

That recommendation is equivalent to 30 grams of fiber per day or about 1 cup of cooked black beans. A very manageable eating task.

Also, if you’re concerned about the high carb myth regarding weight gain, that has been debunked as well. Whether your high carb or low carb, you can still lose weight and get healthy.


Quick Fix:

  • Eat high protein and high fat vegan foods to start. As you get more comfortable, add in more carbohydrates
  • Use MyFitnessPal to track your carbohydrate intake. Make notes about how you feel on higher and lower carbohydrate days and adjust


12. Replacing items can deflate your wallet


I transitioned to a vegan diet cold turkey. After the initial panic of what am I going to eat now wore off, I started putting together a grocery list of the staples and went shopping. As the cashier rang up the last product and the total cost displayed on the register, I swallowed hard and begrudgingly swiped my card.

It was expensive to say the least. The first few weeks after that were similar experiences because I was continuing to replace my old animal based products with vegan ones. Luckily, this inconvenience was short-lived, but inconvenient nonetheless.


Quick Fix:

  • If your budget is tight, then transition slowly. There is no better way to switch to a vegan diet than the way that works for you
  • Plant Based on a Budget is a great resource for inexpensive vegan meals, as well as dispelling any vegan diet cons


13. It may cause personal or social awkwardness


Everyone seems to become a nutrition expert when you tell them you’re vegan. “What about protein? You’re going to be deficient in B12! How are you going to get your calcium without milk?” It’s actually quite comical, but can get awkward at times.

Something similar happens at the dinner table too. Whether you like it or not, the conversation usually ends up centering around your diet.

People seem to love to share every reason why they can’t do it or why it’s too hard to eat vegan. You start to hear the same excuses and may find it hard to sympathize, especially after it becomes normal for you.

Despite your feelings, always take the high road and encourage, educate, or entertain. You never know what may resonate with your family and friends.

Less commonly, you may become the target for food humor. Statements like: “this meat tastes so good, you want some? Are you just going to eat spinach and carrots every day? Our ancestors ate meat, so should we!

If you were the first one to go vegan in your circle, you know what I mean.

In order to prepare yourself for this barrage of questions and arguments, educate yourself. Look to YouTube, books, online blogs and reach out to others who have already transitioned.


Quick Fix:

  • Browse through nutritionfacts.org. Dr. Michael Greger, author of the New York Times Bestseller How Not To Die, makes easily digestible, five-minute videos about the amazing benefits of a plant-based diet.
  • Learn the answers to the most common questions
  • Let your results speak for themselves. After your health and life start to improve, others will look to you for help. Always use this opportunity to educate and raise awareness.


13 Undeniable Cons of a Vegan Diet (and How to Avoid Them) | Veganism Pros and Cons


Final Thoughts


As you can see, even a vegan diet has its drawbacks. However, with a little creativity and craftiness, you can sidestep each one.

There are tons of free resources available to help you succeed. You can start by cooking, simple tasty recipes and educating yourself. As time goes on, eating a vegan diet becomes a normal part of your life.

Remember that the most successful diet out there is the one you can follow the longest. The benefits of eating vegan outweigh any of the cons listed above. Practice patience and persistence and you will see the fruits of your labor in no time.


Have you ever experienced any one of the challenges listed above? Share below in the comments section.



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27 Comment(s)

  1. Eli
    September 12, 2022

    I love how meat eaters have to justify why it’s ok to contribute to animal cruelty. The world is a changing. No matter how you look at it your eating hormones. Animals and people have hormones and your ingesting them. The reasons that you state in you article are not true. Living a vegan lifestyle saves lives. You want to eat animal secretions that’s on you, but leave it be. You don’t have to speak negatively to others for their food choices.

    1. Scotty
      October 2, 2022

      I took an objective look and shared the facts, as well as experiences from others. I’m vegan and don’t eat animal products, so not sure why you are commenting as if I’m an animal eater.

    2. hola
      January 6, 2023


      1. bob
        January 6, 2023

        vegan is good

        1. NO IT IS NOT
          December 1, 2023

          VEGAN IS NOT GOOD BECAUSE IT IS BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH AND IMMUNE SYSTEM. ACCORDING TO to http://www.dietcetra.nl you need to take pills with extra vitamin B12 (form of red blood cells), iron, calcium, and omega-3 (helps to low blood pressure).

          1. Scotty
            January 7, 2024

            This is completely false. Just because you have to take a B12 supplement does not automatically mean a vegan diet is bad. Please stop spreading misinformation

    3. Max
      April 8, 2023

      “Living a vegan lifestyle saves lives”. Who is it saving? Certainly not the lives of most animals, and ultimately even the lives of humans. The vegan lifestyle hurts more animals than it saves. Yes, cows, pigs, turkeys and chickens are perhaps better off but at what cost? What of the countless other animals suffering because of your choice (harmful farming, ridiculous shipping etc)? Do you not care about bugs, insects, birds, rodents etc? Animal cruelty is a real thing, don’t get me wrong, BUT for the most part animals important to us are treated with respect in the civilized world. Cows need to be milked or they feel like crap, and chickens lay eggs naturally. Simple as that. Do you think the milk and eggs should be thrown away because of some animal rights we humans made up? Have you ever bothered to do even a little research into how damaging this vegan fad (for a lack of a better word) is to the climate? Many times more than the traditional farm to table model. I came here to learn, only to find that nobody knows a goddamn thing, only preaching random stuff they’ve been told on the internet. I will not return to this propaganda website anytime soon, as quite frankly I find the “facts & tips” of the article utterly false and offending. I would love to learn more and perhaps change my views in this matter. Hit me up on mazname@gmail.com if you’d like a good conversation on this matter. Peace! 🙂

      1. Scotty
        April 11, 2023

        Sounds to me like you’re not up to date on the actual number of needless deaths from animals in animal agriculture. “The vegan lifestyle hurts more animals than it saves” is false. 70 billion animals are killed for food each year in the animal agriculture industry. Not anywhere close to animals that are killed in crop production. Also your “damaging to climate” comment is false as well. It takes 1,800 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef. To produce one pounds of almonds, it takes 400 gallons. That’s 4x LESS than beef. And this is just one example. Lastly, if you actually want to “learn more”, why are you spreading so much hate in one comment? Here’s a different perspective for you – the aim for veganism to do as little harm as possible to the animals. Yes, we realize animals get killed in crop agriculture. But not nearly as much as animal agriculture. The world doesn’t need to become vegan, but it would benefit the animals, the environment and one’s health to eat more plant based. I hope this helps you see our perspective.

      2. Ana
        May 17, 2023

        You clearly have a brain damage from eating all that meat. This is the biggest absurd that I’ve ever read. Do you read what you write?

    4. Mark
      April 27, 2023

      Billions of animals and trillions of insects die because of monocrop culture. These are intentional deaths through poisoning, trapping and hunting, immensely impacting biodiversity. Not to mention the untold ecological damages and waste of water, petroleum products, air pollution through massive industrial production. A vegan diet is no way guilt free or good for the planet or your health objectively speaking. Just saying

      1. Scotty
        June 9, 2023

        A vegan diet is actually the best diet for the planet and our health. Just saying.

        1. Fyllis
          August 17, 2023

          As for a vegan diet being the ‘best diet’ for the planet and our health, you are truly mistaken.

          A strict vegan diet is NOT all it’s cracked up to be!
          Are there positives regarding a vegan diet? Sure, there are some. Are there negatives? Yup! More so than the few positives.

          Most health conditions developed by vegans are related to vitamin B12 deficiency. Without the familiar sources of vitamin B12, certain bodily functions can be disrupted, leading to anemia, gastritis, stroke, Crohn’s disease, and Celiac disease.
          Also, those on a strictly plant-based diet are found to have lower plasma vitamin B12 levels and higher levels of vitamin B12 deficiency than those who consume animal products. Vitamin B12 is an important cofactor in DNA synthesis, and deficiency can lead to anemia and severe neurological dysfunction.
          Besides B12, vegans are often deficient in Vitamin D, iron, calcium, and iodine.
          As an alternative, vegans have to resort to consuming man-made vitamins and nutrients as a substitute for what is natural in a balanced diet of plants and animals.

          Vitamin B12 is well-known for its role in neurological development, as well as blood cell formation. In other words, it helps to protect our brains and build our DNA.You can also help protect your brain by USING your brain!

          Other noted health issues found among vegans include hair loss, weak bones, muscle wasting, skin rashes, hypothyroidism, and anemia are other issues that have been observed in those strictly following a vegan diet.

          In some instances, a vegan diet can interfere with medications. Wargarin, a blood thinner, has negative interactions with dark, green leafy vegetables like spinach or kale. Additionally, soy milk, char-grilled foods, and sushi containing seaweed may also decrease the effect of Warfarin.

          Know that there are ‘hard to identify’ non-vegan ingredients are conventional items like confectioners glaze on candies which is derived from insects, isinglass that is extracted from fish bladders to make beer and wine, and L-cysteine (duck feathers) that is used in bread products.

          I am sure there are a LOT of strict vegans who have NO clue they are regularly ingesting non-vegan products.

          Unless you are dining out at a strictly vegan restaurant, don’t expect your food to be strictly vegan! Your grilled veggies are cooked on the same grill as my big juicy steak!

          Speaking od steak, animals were put on this earth for us to consume for nutrition.

          In Leviticus 11, the Lord speaks to Moses and Aaron and sets out which animals can be eaten and which cannot: “You may eat any animal that has a divided hoof and that chews the cud. There are some that only chew the cud or only have a divided hoof, but you must not eat them.

          The apostle Paul’s position on the matter was that “nothing is unclean in itself,” and it was thus that the New Testament repudiated the entire body of laws of purity, especially those pertaining to food.
          In the New Testament, Jesus swept away these rules when He “declared all foods clean” (Mark 7:18-19):

          You eat what you want, and I will eat what I want. Don’t try to sway to change my diet, which includes meat, fish, and dairy because that will NEVER happen!

          Now, you want to bring up cruelty to animals because we kill them for food. As I stated above, animals were put on this earth for us to consume as nutrition. Animals have been slaughtered for consumption since the beginning of time.

          Many animals now days are culled to control over-population. Some are culled because of disease control. But many animals are also slaughtered for food consumption.

          Animals must be fully stunned—unconscious and insensible to pain—before they’re slaughtered.

          Now, let’s talk about your beloved plants. You scream and cry about animal cruelty when we slaughter animals for food; yet, you don’t say a word or blink an eye when you kill plants.

          Here is some interesting reading regarding your ignorance about plants. Enjoy!

          Plant Consciousness: The Fascinating Evidence Showing Plants Have Human Level Intelligence,
          Feelings, Pain and More.

          1. Scotty
            September 23, 2023

            This honestly feels like you just copied and paste a bunch of literature from a website, and added in your own rhetoric.

          2. Yes
            February 7, 2024

            Way to go with the quoting scripture and everything else. I can see this is well studied. This is a good solid argument.

  2. Isabella
    December 10, 2022

    Only now did I come across this article, after being vegan for three years and conquering near to all of the listed issues. I found this a thorough and a balaced presentation of the cons that may be associated with a vegan diet and could appreciate the openness and trust that it builds. Thank you!

    1. Scotty
      December 20, 2022

      my pleasure!

  3. bob
    January 6, 2023

    vegan is good

  4. Ze'ev Gross
    June 23, 2023

    As a family physician and vegan myself (12 years) I concur with Scotty. I’ll be happy to collaborate with you and others to contribute to the positive effect of veganism. The way to do so is by more evidenced-based education, tolerance and role modeling. We need more leaders like Scotty to speak up and lead passionately with humble.

    1. Scotty
      September 23, 2023

      I appreciate you taking the time to share this.

  5. Adders
    October 25, 2023

    Micrograms is not represented by mg. mg is milligrams.

    1. Scotty
      November 24, 2023

      Thank you for the correction

      1. Yes
        February 7, 2024

        Anyone can see Scotty is biased and is claiming otherwise. It is nigh near impossible for someone not to be.

  6. Yes
    February 7, 2024

    This includes myself

  7. Katie
    April 30, 2024

    I’m writing an essay on the downsides to vegan diets and this article was a lot of help. I’m not vegan, but I get what your saying about animal cruelty. I don’t have anything against vegans, but I still think it’s ok to eat eggs and drink milk. Chickens don’t really care if you take their eggs and cows don’t mind it if you milk them. Farmers have been doing it for hundreds, even thousands of years. And now people have to knock them out before killing them, so they don’t feel any pain, right? I agree that we as humans could probably find better solutions, but is it really so wrong of me to like meat?

    1. Scotty
      May 22, 2024

      Glad to hear this was helpful. Your assessment of “chickens don’t really care if you take their eggs and cows don’t mind it if you milk them” would be accurate maybe 100 years ago. But that’s not today. You should look into how chicken’s are bread and how cow’s are actually treated at commercial farms. It’ll be eye opening for you

      1. Charles
        June 9, 2024

        Eating some lamb while reading these comments.

        1. Scotty
          June 21, 2024

          Hmmm…okay..just curious, was this meant to gain attention or is it just insecurity?

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Learn How Delicious It Can Be Can To Transition to a Plant-Based Diet

Hey there, I'm Scotty. I help people reach their health and fitness goals eating a plant based diet. Feed me a banana with peanut butter and you'll have my heart forever.

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