You Accidentally Ate Cheese: Are You Still Vegan?

When you think of what it means to be vegan, what springs to mind? The most commonly used definition for a vegan is a person who doesn’t eat any animal products like meat, milk or eggs or use animal products such as leather or wool. Veganism is being adopted by more and more people around the world, with 600,000 vegans in the UK alone! Over the next ten years it’s estimated that one in ten people will have made the change to a vegan lifestyle.

So, you’ve gone vegan

… and it’s been easier than you thought! But this weekend you spent the evening at a friend’s house, and they made you the most delicious dinner. You asked them for the recipe, and they reeled off the list of ingredients – oops, parmesan!

Does that mean you’re not a vegan anymore?

The short answer is – if you still want to be – of course you’re still a vegan! Making the decision to go vegan doesn’t have to be final, and it definitely doesn’t have to be as strict as you think.

Even The Vegan Society has defined the term more loosely: “Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose”.

It’s normal to have moments when veganism feels like too much to handle or like certain aspects simply don’t fit into your routine – maybe you travel a lot for work or have a lot of carnivorous friends. The idea is to do as much as you can to help save the lives of animals and live more sustainably. If you’re doing what you can, when you can, then it sounds like you’re on the best track possible!

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Eating cheese doesn’t make you a bad person

If you’ve had your first non-vegan slip up, you might be feeling disappointed or even a little guilty.

But it’s important to not let the guilt creep in – you’re not a bad person or a failure, you’re human, and we all get it wrong sometimes. What matters most is that the intention of good was there. Take this opportunity to learn what makes you slip up and why. This way you’ll be better equipped for resisting temptation next time.

Don’t give up!

“We don’t need a handful of people doing zero waste perfectly. We need millions of people doing it imperfectly.”

The words of Anne-Marie Bonneau can be applied to veganism too.

You don’t have to be a perfect vegan to make a difference – more people giving it their best go is what will make the biggest difference!

Instead of beating yourself up over it or giving up entirely, remind yourself why you decided to go vegan in the first place. We all have our vices. If there’s something that you think you can’t live without, make small exceptions until you’re ready to switch and keep the rest of your vegan lifestyle going. For example, if you simply cannot live without cheese on your pasta, why not have it once a month? Sustainable habits are easier to form when they don’t feel unnatural or too much like hard work, so figure out what works best for you and begin there.

Most of all, remember that what you eat, buy and use is entirely up to you – you know your body, mind and lifestyle best, so don’t be afraid to put your needs first, and make the changes that come most naturally to you.

If you’re looking for ways to take your vegan lifestyle beyond the food you eat, here’s some tips for incorporating more vegan habits into your daily life.

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