First, I'd just like to say that I don't think there are that many people leaving veganism, it's just that there have been some vegan influencers leave and therefore everyone hears about it. We don't get to hear as much about all of the success stories, or about how many thriving, long-term healthy vegans there are.
That being said, I still always feel disheartened when I hear about someone leaving veganism. I realize that everyone is on their own journey but for someone to make that step to become vegan - to love it, become passionate about it, feel great, etc - and then go back to being non-vegan because they felt it didn't work for them is unfortunate.
If someone just doesn't want to be vegan anymore they should just state that as their reason, but instead they usually say that it is due to some issue with the vegan diet.
Yes, we are all individuals, but there is no reason someone can't be healthy on a vegan diet. There may be individual variations in types of foods eaten, or ratios of macronutrients, but no one should have to incorporate animal products for any reason.*
What is really going on when people leave veganism?
But, what we can do is:
I do not want to shame anyone that has left a vegan diet, especially if they were dealing with health issues and their practitioner told them that eating animal products was the only way for them to feel better. I did however want to shed light on the trend of certain ex-vegans blaming the vegan diet for their issues when really it seemed like they just didn't want to be vegan anymore. Their stories muddy the water and create doubt in regards to the safety and ability to be a healthy vegan, when really they could have remained vegan and still addressed their health concerns.
*people living in remote Northern regions of Canada may not have access to enough fruits and vegetables all year round
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Shawna Barker BSc., R.H.N. is a nutritionist, vegan chef, college instructor, and an expert in plant based nutrition. She graduated with honours from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelors of Science degree in Food, Nutrition and Health, as well as the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition with a Diploma in Holistic Nutrition.