After almost 14 months of being vegan, I ate salmon. I didn’t even like it. And afterward, I felt like a failure. I wondered how someone so devoted to animals and to veganism as a way of life could have stumbled.
I wanted to be stronger than that–and I wanted to show others that it is really possible to be vegan.
I reached out to friends and it helped a little, but I still felt bad.
I went online to look for support and I came across this blog:
Here are some excerpts:
“Pledging to be vegan doesn’t mean that you’re pledging to be perfect; it means you’re pledging to try. Intentions matter. Whenever I write about the choice to be vegan, I return to the Vegan Society’s definition of veganism, which has always rung true to me. Veganism is:
A way of living which excludes all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, the animal kingdom, and includes a reverence for life. It applies to the practice of living on the products of the plant kingdom to the exclusion of flesh, fish, fowl, eggs, honey, animal milk and its derivatives, and encourages the use of alternatives for all commodities derived wholly or in part from animals.
Another iteration of this pledge is this:
[Vegan lifestyles are] ways of living that seek to exclude, as far as is possible and practical, all forms of exploitation of animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.
What I like about these definitions are their clarity and their inherent gentleness. The Vegan Society makes clear that veganism is a pledge not only to eat non-animal foods, but also to avoid commodities like leather, which are often a by-product and support the continuation of factory farming. At the same time, the language used here—“encourages,” “possible and practical”—indicates something important, which is that even the most passionate proponents of veganism are merely asking people to do their very best. Effort and intention is the point: results matter too, but in my opinion, they take second place to the ongoing intention of make vegan choices, day in and day out. Sooner or later, most vegans accidentally consume non-vegan food, or they encounter some sort of temptation, whether food or commodity. Whether or not these temptations get the better of us is less important than how we react to the experience: does one non-vegan choice beget more, undermining the lifestyle altogether, or do we simply recognize that we struggled, forgive ourselves, and remain committed to making vegan choices as we go forward?”
I realized after reading that even though I had not been perfect, I could still be vegan if I decided to commit to it again.
Which I did.
For anybody else out there who may be feeling badly for not being a perfect vegan, read Gena’s blog. It will help you see that nobody is perfect and your blunder may just make you even more committed to the lifestyle as it did for Gena and as it did for me!