Ever Feel Like You’re “Missing Out” Because You’re Plant-Based?

I sent this email to the meal plan members earlier this week and the response was so incredible that I had to repost it here on Happy Herbivore with some additional thoughts.


Does this sound familiar?

I'm trying to lose weight without giving up and missing out. Is that possible? What I mean, tomorrow night I have a Bachelorette party. I feel like I have maintenance down. I lose during the week but weekend gains keep it from going below a certain point. I literally always have something on the weekend. Do I miss out on the fun in the name of weight loss? Is that a lifestyle change?” —Ashley B.

Even if you’re NOT trying to lose weight, going vegan or adopting a plant-centered diet can dredge up these feelings.

One thing I like to remind myself of is that I’m not there for the food.

Recently, I shared this photo from a friend’s birthday potluck, and one of the first comments was: “Were there other things for you to eat or did you have to eat what you brought?

As it turns out, someone else brought fresh fruit, but that’s not why I went.

I didn’t go to Zophie’s birthday for the food. I went to celebrate Zophie!

Food is a constant presence in celebrations and social situations…

But it doesn’t have to be the FOCUS.

You’re there to have a good time, socialize, make memories, and celebrate.

You’d still go to a wedding or birthday party even if there was no food, right?!

Adopting this perspective changes EVERYTHING.

Eating food should not be the way we measure involvement in an activity.

Let me repeat that…

Eating food should not be the way we measure involvement in an activity.

You can “miss out” on conversation, parties, and witnessing life events, but...

Food is not “fun.”

Food gives nourishment so we can have fun!


Here is one of the first email responses I received:

Your timing is impeccable. My husband and I are on vacation and I spent last evening having a bit of a meltdown over not being fun anymore. We spent our vacation exploring and even taking sea kayaks to see Orcas (which was as amazing as it sounds) but yesterday we were just sitting in our room and normally we would have gone bar hopping and eating local food as part of the "experience." I cried my eyes out about no longer being fun. After a few hours my husband finally dragged me out to a beach to watch harbor seals and explained that I need to find a new way to define fun. Then, I got your email. I showed it to him and wished I'd received it yesterday. But, better late than never! Thanks for this.

Her email reminded me of comments I often hear regarding my travels… about how I’m “missing out” because I’m vegan and not eating the local foods…

and I can’t help but think… do we really want to base a “culture” or people based on FOOD? Not their language, music, history, artwork, architecture, museums, festivals, social practices (such as the French bissoux--kissing on the cheek)??

All that other cultural goodness I soak up when I’m there??

I have never once felt like I got anything less out of my travels. If anything, NOT worrying and obsessing about food and eating made me ENJOY my travels more AND gave me a lot more time to go out, explore and actually DO things.

PLUS (as I talked about in Vegan in Europe and also Happy Herbivore Abroad) some of the truly regional or authentic dishes are naturally plant-based because peasants were too poor to afford rich ingredients!

I also love love love LOVE roaming the farmer’s markets and trying all the different local fruits and vegetables.

This picture of the “American” section at my friend’s grocery store in London also came to mind…

and this “American” section at a grocery store in Paris.

As an American, I definitely do not want THAT to be representative or me or my country or my culture!

Here are some other comments members made:

"My hubby and I always bought into the same mindset of hitting the restaurants and bars. I didn't think I'd ever have fun without alcohol, but I do!"

"We just finished a 3-day drive and ate pre-prepared stuff the whole way. It was cheaper, healthier and way more convenient. We could stop at rest stops and have a picnic and let the dog stretch her legs without having to make extra fast food stops."

"I STRESSED over my vacation this summer. We had this amazing trip planned but all I could focus on was how I wasn't going to eat something and how I was going to have to watch my husband eat it. I didn't even know what "something" was. Turns out I wasn't even tempted. There was a moment when I contemplated taking a bite of my husband's fish when my niece loudly reminded me "THAT'S MEAT!" haha."