I don’t know who needs to hear this, but it’s not possible to be perfect and not worth striving for. I mean this for every aspect of life but it definitely applies to veganism. There is no vegan police judging every decision you make. If you unknowingly consume an animal product in a restaurant (think hidden chicken broth) you aren’t going to be stripped of your Vegan title. This perfection myth can only hinder your progress. What's unfortunate is that many people who are trying to adopt a plant-based lifestyle feel like if they aren't a perfect vegan, they are doing it "wrong" and shouldn't bother trying.
Sometimes the fear of failure prevents people from trying. What if I cave and eat a slice of pizza? What if I can’t help but try a dairy filled dessert? It’s ok if you slip up. What’s important is that you get right back to your vegan eating and not to go back to your old eating just because you made a mistake.
I once read something that really helped me visualize the ridiculousness of giving up just because you made a mistake. Picture you’re driving and get a flat tire. The solution is to change the tire and get right back to driving. You wouldn’t puncture the 3 other tires just because you have 1 flat tire. This can apply to anything. If you’re trying to stay away from sugar but eat a cookie at a friend's house, don’t spend the rest of the day gorging on sugar. If you’re trying to limit your shopping but buy a pair of shoes you fell in love with, don’t spend the rest of the day on a shopping spree. You haven’t “ruined” anything. It’s just a simple slip up. Fix it and move on.
Why Do People Go Vegan?
There are three main reasons that people go vegan: for their health, the animals, and the planet. Any steps you make towards being vegan and away from being a meat eater will be progress. For example, if you just start with Meatless Monday as many people do, that will have an effect. While the biggest impact will be going fully plant based, anything you can do in that direction will be good for health reasons, animal welfare and the planet. Taking small steps towards your goal is often easier than becoming 100 percent vegan all at once and will make a big difference in the end. I started by adapting to a vegetarian diet before making the jump to plant based. There is no right or wrong way to do it. Remembering why you are going vegan will help you on your way.
How often in life have you tried something for the first time and been an expert in it? Probably not too often. Vegans often put too much pressure on themselves to be perfect at this way of eating from the moment they start. These perfectionistic tendencies can make the transition stressful. Finding support can be really helpful if you are struggling. If you don't know any vegans, look online. New vegan groups on social media can give encouragement as well as tips to guide you in the right direction. If you find you can't stick to it, you didn't "fail". You just haven't found the right way for you yet. I tried to go vegan several times before it finally stuck. The best thing to do is figure out why it didn't work out and make a plan for the when you want to try again.
There is no need to be a perfect vegan. Please keep this in mind if you eat something non-vegan. You’re not a failure and you don’t need to quit. The main thing is to just get right back to it and spend the rest of the day following the vegan diet. Don’t beat yourself up - there’s no such thing as perfection! This journey is yours and there is no right or wrong way to do it. It's a way of life and it needs to work for you. Be kind to yourself and good luck.
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