I made my way from one farmers market stand to another, grazing on samples along the way. And then I spot it…the almond butter stand with a multitude of jars waiting to be sampled. I tried the first four before I see that the last jar is clearly marked “VEGAN”. My mind begins to race…"does that mean that the rest of these AREN’T VEGAN?!" “Nope, we put honey in all of them except the specialty vegan one”. And like that…I was no longer vegan.
Just kidding, I’m still super duper vegan. But this experience did happen to me a few weeks ago and it is definitely not the first time I have accidently ate something that wasn’t vegan. When I first became vegan there were many foods that I simply assumed were vegan. I didn’t think about checking the pudding box for gelatin or making sure that the bread I bought didn’t contain milk and eggs. Over time I figured this all out and the occurrence of eating something that isn’t vegan is few and far between.
Living in Portland I can pretty much guarantee that a restaurant is going to have a clearly marked 'vegan option'. Yet I’m not always in Portland and sometimes people don’t know what is and isn’t vegan. The first time I ate something that wasn’t vegan I felt so ashamed. It was after about three months of being vegan and I felt like I had failed. In my mind I was no longer a vegan, I felt like I had messed up and therefore had to throw away my vegan card. Then I had an epiphany….I’M HUMAN. And because I am human that also means that I’m not perfect. Sometimes I make mistakes and eat something with eggs in it…AND THAT’S OKAY!
I am proud to be vegan and understand that it doesn’t make me any less vegan if I accidentally eat a piece of bread that has milk in it. I’m sure there are some people out there who would argue differently but I don’t let them dictate my happiness. Now instead of completely freaking out, I am able to laugh it off and move on. Dwelling over my mishap doesn’t change the past, no matter how hard I may try. Sometimes I may drink a little too much or eat a lot of vegan ice cream and that’s okay. Rather than beating myself up about it and dwelling on it for the rest of the day, I do something wild…I forgive myself. We often have this false idea that we need to be perfect. We always have to stick to our diet, say the right things, have the right job, and never do anything that may embarrass us.
This past year has been quite a roller-coaster for me. I graduated college, traveled alone abroad, experienced the harsh life of unemployment, lived at home, moved back to Portland, quit my job, started this blog, and I’m still figuring everything out. And while this year hasn’t gone as I may have planned, I know that I have grown a lot on a personal level. For a long time I have been unknowingly trying to obtain being ‘perfect’. I wanted perfect grades and to get the perfect job and be the perfect vegan. But this past year has taught me the power of forgiving myself. Realizing that what makes me ME are my imperfections. Being able to forgive myself when things don’t go as planned has allowed me to become the most authentic version of myself. I no longer strive to impress others but rather do what makes me happiest. Sure I could have gotten a different degree and be working a job that I hate, but that wouldn’t be living the life that I wanted.
Some days are definitely easier than others and there are times when I find it really difficult to not dwell in the past. Whether it’s accidentally eating something that’s not vegan or over analyzing why I didn’t get a certain job; forgiveness and acceptance help me move on. Instead of dwelling in the past, I’m learning from it. And while I may not have everything figured out, this past year has showed me who I truly am and that doesn’t change if I mistakenly ingest some eggs.