Last week I talked about buying unethically made clothing after a year and a half and now I’m telling you I’m a bad vegan. I’m exposed! Actually, I just want to share my experiences because I know these lifestyles, particularly veganism, can be very intimidating. There is definitely pressure to be perfect and it can really wear you down. Today, I’m sharing my “bad vegan” moments and tips to handle such mistakes.
When I think about slip-ups, the first thing that comes to mind is either caving or accidentally consuming non-vegan food. I’m sure it’s something most plant-based people have encountered. As for me, I had enjoyed some delicious stew and bread that I eat regularly, but this time my stomach was very upset. Then I realized I didn’t check the ingredients of the bread and upon inspection, I was horrified to find it contained milk. Cue tears, guilt, disgust, serious bloating, tummy pains and a break out the next day.
Realizing you’ve accidentally ingested animal products is zero fun, but it’s done. There is no point in beating yourself up over it. From that experience, I learned to always make sure I read the label and if I mess up, it’s not the end of the world. Guess what? If you mess up, it’s not the end of the world either.
One thing that drives me absolutely crazy is vegan = perfect healthy human stereotype. There’s this notion that because you’re vegan, you must also be super fit, live a environmentally friendly life, only eat the most nutritious food, have perfect skin, constantly have tons of energy and be cured of any illness, mental or physical.
Sure, some of those things may be true for you, but holding ourselves to that standard of what a vegan should be is just setting ourselves up for failure. Admittedly, I have felt like I’m a bad example because I don’t tick all those boxes or really any of them, but no one truly fits that mold. Yet we still criticize ourselves and others for not being good enough and meeting those expectations. What we should say is, “Hey, you’re trying and that’s fucking awesome.”
No matter what you did to feel like a bad vegan, it can leave you feeling discouraged or maybe like giving up on it. If it was anything else, would you feel the same way? For my students out there, if you missed a question on a test, you wouldn’t stop taking the class. Or if you miss a workout, you don’t write off exercise entirely. Late to work? That’s it, might as well quit… You’re bound to make mistakes. We all are. It’s okay and I’m not suggesting we should use the notion that mistakes are inevitable as a crutch to not push ourselves to be better, but we shouldn’t be so hypercritical. Bad vegans aren’t bad, they’re just humans.
Tell me about your bad vegan self below. Let’s encourage ourselves and others and quit feeling guilty about not being perfect vegans or perfect people.