The other day, I wrote this post about the motivations behind my decision to become vegan last year. I found myself getting a bit emotional as I remembered how passionate I am about improving the lives of animals and taking better care of the environment. It really has been a life-changing transition for me and – thanks to vegan food being the bomb and that feeling of doing good being so damn addictive – one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
That being said, adhering to a vegan diet and lifestyle is not always easy. As much as checking ingredients lists is now second nature to me, there is still a lot to bear in mind when it comes to being vegan. Here are some of the things I have to consider/avoid on a general basis:
- Dairy and eggs in baked goods
- Milk powder in absolutely bloody everything
- Red colouring in certain foods
- Gelatine in sweets
- Wool in winter clothing
- Silk/Lanolin/glycerin in cosmetics
- Shady af cosmetics companies who claim to be cruelty-free whilst happily selling in mainland China
- Crushed beetles in mainly-but-not-exclusively red and dark lipsticks and eyeshadows
It can be pretty exhausting keeping track of all this, I assure you, which is why I can’t always be perfect. In fact, I think it’s very important for anyone thinking about going vegan, or for anyone struggling to maintain a vegan diet, to know that it is OK to not be the perfect vegan.
With that in mind, I thought I’d share some of the examples of how imperfect a vegan I am:
| Vegan alcohol
Did you know that many beers, wines and ciders are cleared using fish bladders? Isinglass, gelatine and collagen are other terms for this nastiness that you may come across. Despite knowing, and being disgusted, by this, I very rarely spend too much time worrying about whether or not my alcoholic beverage is vegan-friendly or not. Pubs are bad enough for vegans as it is* without us being able to drink anything whilst in them, so unfortunately I will likely not be able to tell you if what I’m drinking has passed through the guts of a fish or not during the process of it being made. Supermarkets are also a minefield of not knowing what’s in anything. One day, all alcoholic beverages will be clearly labelled as vegan or not, so I won’t have to rely on a hurried Google in the Tesco wine aisle.
*Apart from Sam Smiths pubs – basically all of their beers, ciders and wines are Vegan Society certified and they occasionally have vegan food options, too!
| Multi-purpose oil and other food slip ups
Do you know what sucks? When chips are literally the only thing you can eat at an establishment, but you’ve been told they were fried in the same oil as the fish. That’s just cold, isn’t it? Well…it seems to be rather a common occurrence, especially in pubs, but honestly, I don’t even ask about the oil anymore. I just order my chips and try to soak up the non-vegan alcohol I’m enjoying.
Sometimes, I will simply forget to check for certain ingredients, too. Recently, our office building put on a cereal bar in the counter, with an array of cereals to choose from lined up. I love a bit of free food, so I was quick to load up on a whole bunch of cereals, including Sugar Puffs. Sugar Puffs are so good, aren’t they? That’s why they went in my bowl, mixed in with all the others. And they have that funny Honey Monster guy on box. Honey….Monster? Honey. Balls.
| Fast food necessities
Despite Pret’s efforts, high street breakfast options are somewhere on a scale between pitiful and non-existent for vegans. This doesn’t bode well if you’re in a rush. As much as I try to be prepared in advance by stocking up on quick things to eat in the morning (vegan-friendly snack bars and dried fruit bags are favourites of mine), this is not always possible and, with shame, I drag myself into Caffe Nero and order a *whispers* muffin which definitely contains dairy.
Real talk – anxiety makes it really difficult for me to be able to eat most things on travel days. Quick carby things like muffins are easy for me to consume and fill me up, if only on air and vegan guilt. In truth, it is pretty rare that I have to resort to buying non-vegan breakfast goods but when it does happen, it’s usually because I literally had to eat something, so I won’t dwell on that for too long.
There are many areas of veganism that aren’t black and white. Sure, we can try to stick to “the rules” and cut out the obvious ingredients, but when it comes to living ethically and following a vegan lifestyle, it’s not always as easy as it sounds. We can only do our best, and that’s good enough.
Do you have any vegan confessions to make? Get them off your chest in the comments below!