Adopting a plant-based lifestyle, especially in a meat-centric society, is very commendable. This is also a shift which can be difficult in the beginning. You might slip up and have something non-vegan either by accident, by not knowing the ingredients of the food you’re consuming, or in a moment of weakness. It happens! You are not the first, nor the last vegan to have a slip up. Take it from some veteran vegans: when this happens, forgive yourself and move on from the mistake. Your effort, and the benefits for the animals, your health and the planet over time, matters more than perfection.
Friends and family love to tempt new vegans; ‘just one bite’ is a phrase that we've heard way too often. Eating out at restaurants which may not know the difference between vegan and vegetarian can also lead to the accidental consumption of animal products. However, instead of beating yourself up about eating outside of the vegan dietary requirements, we suggest using these moments to pause and reflect on your journey and why you adopted a plant-based diet in the first place. It may be wise to come up with new strategies to help you along the way. In today’s article, the Vegan Africa Fund hopes to shed some light on a few choices you can make to successfully lead a vegan lifestyle - with less future slip-ups.
Show yourself the same compassion you have shown to animals by making this lifestyle change. Making a mistake only means that you’re human. If you realize you've broken the vegan diet, remember there’s always a next time. You can make more informed and better decisions during your next meal and get back on track. Don’t make your journey a never-ending punishment of carrying the guilt of your mistake. Learn to forgive yourself and use your slip-up as motivation to stay committed in the future.
Talk About It
If you have any vegan friends or acquaintances, talk to them about your slip-up and ask them if they’ve ever had any. Chances are some of them have -I know I did at first! Whether they dealt with it the same way as you doesn’t matter. What matters is you’re not alone. Hearing similar stories can help you feel less guilty about it and can help you learn new strategies from your friends on how they dealt with their slip-ups.
Your Effort Counts
Most of us have lived non-vegan for a chunk of our lives: we ate animal products before we realized why we could choose a brighter path. You may feel guilty about your slip-up, but remember your efforts are still better than a whole life of eating meat - I'm sure the animals whose lives you've saved would agree. You went out of your way to make a conscious and compassionate choice to change our dietary habits and that counts - so don't ever discount it! You are still limiting your support of the harmful meat, dairy and egg industries. Regardless of your non-vegan moments, you are still making progress in the compassionate evolution, living a lifestyle that you value, and making a difference.
Go Back To The Drawing Board
Remember your reason for embarking on this journey. Whatever reason you had is a great place to center yourself. One slip-up doesn’t change the fact that going vegan is hugely impactful. Go back to whatever made you decide to go vegan in the first place, and remind yourself of the great choice you made to change your lifestyle. Don’t get discouraged or assume that it has something to do with your capability of staying vegan. Don’t give up and keep trying. It may be helpful to try out new recipes to find what works for you to satisfy your cravings. Everyone is different! You may have started this journey with everyone around you advocating for oat milk, but that doesn’t work for you. Recognize this and experiment with different plant-based alternatives until you find what works for you.
That’s it for our tips on how to deal with a slip-up. Remember that you are not alone and that you made a brave and compassionate decision. We are proud of you, no matter where you are on this journey. We’re sure you’re going to do a great job going forward, and would love for you to share your journey and story with us! If you are an ex-vegan who’s trying to get back to the lifestyle, here is a great resource for you to check out (The Ex-Vegan’s Guide To Going Vegan Again). Be sure to let us know any strategies you’ve used after a slip-up and what stood out for you in this article. We love you and keep choosing compassion.