Becoming vegan wasn’t a decision I made lightly.
I had been vegetarian (and in moments of ‘weakness’, a pescatorian) for nine years and was satisfied with my predominantly plant-based diet. But I started having some serious questions about eggs and dairy.
After evaluating the pros and cons of becoming vegan – spiritually, logically and rationally – against my own set of personal values I decided that veganism made perfect sense due to my love of animals and deep commitment to sustainable living.
So I decided to take the next step and remove all animal-related food from my diet. The decision to go vegan was made at the beginning of the year. I’ve been vegan for almost five whole months.
But a couple of months into my plant-based diet, I knew I would never be a perfect vegan.
Reason #1 – There’s no such thing as perfection.
The quest for perfection is a foolish one because perfection doesn’t exist. Striving for perfection in an imperfect and often complex world is delusional.
Just as there is no such thing as the perfect human being, or the perfect sustainable lifestyle, or the perfect one-size-fits-all diet, there really is no such thing as the perfect vegan.
I have met many vegans throughout my life and am friends with some hardcore vegans and I can say that not a single one of them (not even the vegan fundamentalists) is perfect.
If your goal as a vegan is to attain perfection, I’m sorry to say but you’ll be extremely disappointed. Best swap that goal for something else.
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Reason #2 – Human error.
When I find myself at a restaurant that is non-vegan I have to rely on the wait staff to provide correct and accurate information about the food on the menu.
If I’m dining at a friend’s or family member’s place, I have to trust that they have properly prepared my vegan meal.
And let’s face it – humans make mistakes.
In the relatively short period of time I’ve been a vegan, I’ve:
- ordered dairy-free coffee only to discover dairy milk in my mug,
- mistakenly drank wine that has been processed with non-vegan clarifying agents such as egg and milk,
- devoured ‘vegan’ french fries only to learn afterwards it was cooked in lard,
- been served egg noodles instead of rice noodles,
- have been ordered pizza with cheese (Ben forgot to ask for no cheese).
These are just a few examples. I could go on.
Now as I see it, there are really only two ways to avoid encountering these human-caused problems:
- don’t eat out and prepare all meals myself at home; or
- eat at vegan-only restaurants.
Neither of these options are practicable because one of my simple pleasures is dining out with friends and family. And in my rural neck of the woods, there are zero vegan restaurants.
So I have to accept that there will be times when I will eat byproducts of animals – not by choice, but as the result of human error.
Reason #3 – I’m not a vegan purist.
Oxford Dictionaries defines the term ‘purist’ as:
A person who insists on absolute adherence to traditional rules or structures, especially in language or style.
In other words, a purist is a person who follows strict rules and ‘letters of the law’ in order to achieve their preconceived idea of perfection.
I am definitely not a vegan purist.
I see shades of grey in my vegan journey where purist vegans only see black and white.
I make mistakes and own up to them unlike purist vegans who claim not to make any.
I don’t like to vegan ‘bash’ whereas some purist vegans will seize any opportunity to ‘correct’ others for their ‘wrong’ food choices.
I am not caught up in the ‘vegan’ label where as purist vegans wear it loudly and proudly.
I believe in compassion, unlike purist vegans who like to judge, debate and dismiss you because you’re not as ‘perfect’ as they are.
Like I said in point #1, there is no such thing as a perfect human much less a perfect vegan.
Plus the end goal shouldn’t be veganism in and of itself. I think that veganism – as with religion – is a tool that should be used to help people become more compassionate and loving. Vegans should show compassion not just towards animals – but towards people and planet too.
If you’re vegan and agree with me, please share this post and let’s bring more human compassion into the vegan community!
I’d like to hear from you if you’re vegan: What are some of the struggles you’ve faced on your vegan journey? Have you ever come across someone who behaved as though they are a ‘perfect vegan’? Please leave a comment below and let’s discuss compassionate living in veganism!