This is not a confession. Confessions imply secrecy and shame.
This is not a brag. There are no feelings of pride. But also no regrets.
I recently went on holiday to the Lake District with my vegan boyfriend, our very good friend (also vegan), and his girlfriend, who is vegetarian but is slowly cutting out animal products.
None of us ate vegan during this week.
Specifically, we ate dairy, eggs and tuna. When we got back, I told my parents that we had at least stayed vegetarian. But NOPE, not even that. In a mental blip, I had forgotten that tuna was in fact at animal, and not just an ingredient out of a can, so I guess we were ‘pescetarian’. It just goes to show how deeply entrenched the act of ‘looking the other way’ is in our society, when it comes to eating animals.
So have we decided to stop being vegan?
No. Our fundamental views on animal suffering, the environment, and personal health hadn’t changed. In fact (ignoring that week), we all aspire to live as healthily and compassionately as possible.
So how could we just ignore all of the suffering, facts and statistics and eat non-vegan for a whole week?!
Do you want the rather sad truth?
It was fun. It was tasty. It was a little bit rebellious; we were taking a holiday from our conscience.
On the 8 hour journey from Brighton to Yorkshire, eyes closed in ecstasy as we bit into gooey, Crispy Creme donuts, mouths watered as we chose toppings at Subway to go on our tuna melt subs, and lips were licked after downing SOYA frappacinos and hot chocolates (yes, ironically we still had soya over milk), pumped with extra chocolate sauce. All compassion for animals, not forgotten, but pushed to the back of our distracted-by-deliciousness minds. Unfortunately, because we are brought up to deny and ignore farm animal suffering (due to the lack of education about the topic in our society), it’s all too easy to slip back into that mind-state.
We had “fucked it’, as our friend so bluntly put it. Well and truly.
So the next day when our friend’s parents took us to Betty’s, one of the best Tea Houses in the North, did we stay vegan? I don’t even think there was a single vegan option on the menu.
A shared Eggs Florentine and cream tea later, I was starting to feel the effects – a ‘dairy high’ was quickly followed by extreme tiredness and a heavy, foggy feeling in my head. I felt what I can only describe as car-sickness – even though I wasn’t in a car.
We drove up to the lakes a couple of days later and stayed with about 14 others – all friends of my friend’s parents. Three days of prosecco, communal meals (a lot of them were cooking and eating meat, but we chose veggie options), more cream teas and a cheeseboard ensued – don’t worry, we also went on walks and enjoyed the incredible scenery!
By this point, I was feeling terrible.
I had tummy aches, acid reflux, temperamental bowels and terrible gas. We were all tired, bloated and uncomfortable.
So why did we eat this way? I guess because we knew it was as temporary as the holiday, and that allowed us to put it into perspective – one week out of the many that we ARE vegan, didn’t seem too bad. And to be honest, we just wanted to.
The main thing I took away from this non-vegan week, was a massive re-realisation that this is all just a choice, and as long as we make ‘good’ choices most of the time, we aren’t horrible people. After 6 months of COMPLETE ‘conscious’ veganism (I can’t say ‘complete veganism’ because I had accidentally eaten some animal products), I had started to think a little less of my friends who occasionally ate something non-vegan, and even vegetarian friends – I thought they were perhaps a bit weak for not being able to resist. But now that I have also ‘fucked it’, I cannot be one to judge.
Secondly, it reminded me that MY BODY DOES NOT LIKE DAIRY anymore. Whether I am lactose intolerant or not, I can now definitely confirm that eating dairy greatly affects my digestion, so I will definitely be choosing NOT to eat it from now on.
I am also enjoying that amazing feeling of making a personal change, and a small difference to the world by choosing to be vegan, all over again (although I think if anyone does this more than once, they have some serious thinking about their morals to do).
So there we go, after six months of eating strictly vegan, this experience has reaffirmed that I want to continue to choose to be vegan.
Do you have a similar story? I’d love to hear it in the comments section below 🙂