Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Connecting with vegan fallibility

Cheese is my weakness. What's yours?
We vegans love to think we have all the answers, don't we? Problem is, we are fallible, just like everyone else in the world. In the past couple weeks, it has come to my attention that I am not a perfect vegan. Nor is anyone. Now, in my case, I slipped up and ate some cheese. I've since gone back to my former, healthier, vegan ways. However, as usual, my experience with failure got me thinking. Is it even possible to be completely vegan?

Slip ups, notwithstanding

How can we be assured as vegans that every single thing we participate in or consume is vegan? Well, in today's world, that's completely impossible. While we may try our best to live a cruelty life, as widespread as the meat and dairy industry's practices, products and influences reach, we can never be completely sure that our lives are 100% cruelty free.

So what do we do?

Well, we do our best. We stay away from meat products, dairy products and seafood. We don't buy leather goods. We make a concerted effort to be less wasteful so as not to become a drain on other resources. We address the major and minor concerns we are aware of. We accept that there may be things we are doing that are inadvertently cruel, due to the fact that we're not aware of every little product or pastime that encourages or promotes cruelty.

And about those slip-ups

We have to accept that going vegan is a journey. In my case, I thought that after two years, I was done with dairy. As it turns out, I'm just a human being. Surprise! Once again, just like everyone else, I am capable of straying from my path, despite my somewhat relentless vegan advocacy. You can liken it to a Christian who has “sinned” or a drug addict who has caved to the temptation of imbibing. The fact that they have erred doesn't mean they are any less Christian or any less committed to kicking the habit. It just means they have made a mistake.

How about you?

If you've been feeling that you're not a vegan because you've made such an error or had to compromise on your diet or lifestyle due to circumstances beyond your control, don't be so rough on yourself. It's OK to not be perfect. Certainly, you may feel badly that you have let down your fellow animals by slipping up. I know I do. Still, it doesn't mean you are a horrible person. It doesn't mean you are a failure or that you are misrepresenting yourself. It just means you have to keep trying until you get it right.

Be proud of the things you do right.

In my case, it's been a very, very, very long time since I even thought about eating meat. I'm very proud of that. I'm 55 and I believe the last time I ate meat, it was a few pieces of pepperoni on a pizza when I was around 20 years old. So, it's been about 35 years since I've directly consumed another living being. That's pretty darn good, right? The point is, rather than concentrating on your weaknesses as a vegan or your slip ups, try to stay focused on the good you ARE doing daily in your vegan journey, no matter how far along you are. And continue do all the good you can! It's contagious!

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