I’m not going to tell you veganism ruined my health, because it didn’t. I am also not going to tell you everyone in the world should eat 100% vegan, because they shouldn’t.
I am going to tell you that having “vegan” values and beliefs doesn’t have to mean you are obligated to completely sterilize your diet of all animal source foods.
I am incredibly grateful I was able to find a way to nourish my body with a plant-based approach for over 3 years without sacrificing much. However, in the last few months I have become increasingly flexible with the choices I make because I feel like it’s the right decision for me.
However, some days you just can’t help but feel like someone is going to call the vegan police on you and frankly, I’m done with feeling guilty about what I know is right for me.
Eating less animal source foods is still not a bad idea
It has been 3 years since I made the decision to reduce/eliminate meat, eggs and dairy and some may even remember reading my post from that year titled “My Reasons for Eating Compassionately.“
I am still firm in my stance that the unethical handling of animals in all 3 industries is repulsive, and that in the name of climate change most people should consider including more plant-based meals in their weekly diet.
My turning point
“Being compassionate towards animals is an incredible thing, but in doing so don’t lose compassion for one more important animal: yourself.”unknown
Earlier this year I was recovering from a concussion and and in my search for ways to help my brain heal, a common theme came up over and over and over again: Omega-3 or more specifically, DHA.
I wanted to do everything possible to support my recovery yet, here I was stuck at a crossroads because my “diet” was void of high quality DHA sources.
And, yes, I know there are plant-based DHA supplements, the same way I know B12 is fortified into the meat and dairy alternatives I eat. But at the same time I know that simply allowing a bit more flexibility would cover my nutritional bases and put my mind at ease.
Here comes the vegan police
When my grocery list first went from chicken breast and cottage cheese to beans and nutritional yeast, my intentions were to stay relatively flexible with it. However, it’s interesting how once people start associating you with veganism, you start to put pressure on yourself to uphold a certain image even though that wasn’t the image you had in mind for yourself.
The rational part of your mind knows eating a slice of cheesecake at a party isn’t changing the course of any industry, but this fear starts to develop about what making that decision says about your integrity and you as a person.
In short, I didn’t like what I was seeing as I noticed my thoughts and behaviours slipping into similar patterns from when I was scared of eating more than 150g of carbs a day. Also, the simple reality is that my ideal diet isn’t 100% plant-based but is also a FAR stretch from the omnivore I was prior to going veg.
Death to the dichotomy
Call me what you like, but my diet doesn’t need a name.
This new mindset allows me to enjoy eating out at any restaurant without acting like a self-righteous asshole, celebrate occasions without stress and support my nutrition with food alone.
In all fairness, switching my dietary approach actually played an integral part in healing my relationship food, calories and carbs, so I have no regrets. I also don’t think I could have struck this happy medium now had I not relied solely on plants for as long as I did.
I still predominantly eat beans, tofu, vegetables, quinoa , rice and love going out for vegan food. But, I also keep some salmon in the freezer and mennonite-raised eggs in the fridge, and if that makes other vegans or vegetarians uncomfortable, then so be it.
I suppose I just wrote this to give people permission to be an “–ish.” Be it veganish, paleoish or ketoish, living in the grey doesn’t always (or ever) equate to weak character or poor morals especially when it comes what you are putting in your body.
Food choices should be made on a case-by-case basis and in the end dichotomizing what food you are allowed or not allowed to consume will always do you a disservice.
So, if you find yourself caught in a limbo, remember this: as long as awareness and good intention are present when you make the decision to eat something, the decision will always be the right one for you.
Revolutionary, I know.