To anyone in the vegan community, please read the article before commenting. It won’t make everyone happy, but it will provide context.
Four years ago, I was in a really bad spot. My mental health was in the toilet, I was struggling to find meaning in life, and I was generally flailing. I had started running, both because I needed to get my health in check, and also because I wanted something that was just for me. It would give me time to think and spend some time coming to terms with myself.
I had learned about trail and ultrarunning from the Rich Roll Podcast (a podcast I still recommend to this day), and one of the other main topics on the show at that point was veganism. I knew literally nothing about being a vegan, but the benefits sounded pretty amazing. More energy, lower inflammation, positive impacts on the environment and the well-being of animals, in addition to my overall health? Sign me up.
But, like anything in life, there’s always a way to take something too far.
The radical vegan community has, from my experiences, been one of toxic one-upmanship, where they constantly deride the people around them. Either someone isn’t vegan, so fuck them, or they are, but they don’t do enough. Whether its that they aren’t vocal enough, still wear leather they bought 5 years ago, or eat vegan 99% of the time, but might have a vegetarian meal once a month. There’s always someone out there to make them mad and fuel their anger.
And the rest of us have to answer for it. No one is approaching the radical vegan and making bacon jokes or talking about how they could “never” give up cheese. Those people are “crazy” and they don’t actually want confrontation. So they find their less radical friends and make them feel like an outcast for trying to do better for themselves.
And honestly, I worry about those that take pleasure in saying those things to people over a lifestyle choice. Are you so broken in your own morality and bothered by what everyone else is doing that you feel the need to make fun of them? I have no problem with someone not eating how I eat, it’s the social superiority complex I have a problem with. Sometimes, adulthood is very much like high school.
So, I’m giving up. Both sides have worn me down to a point of no return.
I’m not giving up eating a plant-based diet. I even tried. I tried to have a piece of fish a few months ago and couldn’t even start to eat it.
But I won’t ever say the “v” word again. With my move coming up in a couple months, I’ll most likely end up in a place where literally no one knows who I am. Perfect. I know I’ll have to dance around some conversations, but I think an acceptable social answer to what my diet consists of is “I eat what I want.” I’m not lying, I just don’t want to eat meat, dairy, or eggs.
But you know what the best part of this decision is? I’m guilt-free. I don’t have to feel bad when my cravings for cheese come up at a party with no vegan options and I eat a single chip with melted cheese on it. Or when it’s someone’s birthday and I have a piece of cake. It’s happened. Many times. And every time, the inevitable question comes. “I thought you were vegan?” Sigh.
Everyone is on their own journey. I’ve said this since I made the switch 4 years ago. And sometimes, I fall off the wagon. I have some cheese or something with dairy in it. You know what’s unproductive and not helping anything? Giving up because I slipped up.
So many people start a diet, slip for one meal, or even one snack, and then just quit because they couldn’t do it. You’re on your journey. Keep going. It sucks falling off the wagon and having to train yourself to have more discipline. But if you keep getting back up and fighting, eventually, you’ll make it.
Don’t let anyone shame you for having those moments and figuring out your path. Because they have their own demons they’re trying to fight off as well.
So no, I’m not a vegan. I am my own person. I make the best decision I can at the time with the information I have. And if that isn’t good enough for you, then I hope you find peace in every single decision you make. I know I’m trying to.