Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A "little slip"?

I've occasionally heard vegans and vegetarians talk about having "a little slip," or sometimes a major one, if they jump off the vegan or vegetarian bandwagon temporarily and indulge in the land of dairy or even carnivorous delights before going back to usual plant-based culinary pursuits.

Usually, this pronouncement of having a "slip" is done with a fair amount of guilt. It's as though being a vegan or vegetarian is a full-time religion that one simply must pursue to perfection, no matter what deprivations must occur to be successful. And if one fails, self-flagellation must occur. Right?

Well, not so fast, I think. Now, I'm all for having a conscience, and I'm certainly aware that eating a healthy diet is necessary. I'm also all for being vegan or vegetarian if that's what your body needs and it's important to you. And yes, I do think that even those people who decide they must continue to eat meat can probably cut back pretty substantially and therefore save both our animal friends and the environment a lot of grief, even if they can't give it up altogether.

But what is it with the guilt, already? Do we have to define an occasional dabble in dairy or even meat as failure if we decide to pursue a veggie lifestyle? I don't think so; I've said before that I don't think we know everything about the human body or what it needs, so maybe an occasional craving like that is just a means to make sure we get something we need. Or maybe it's just that you have a sudden craving for meat or dairy after X years of not having it.

So, why not indulge -- without the guilt? Chances are it's something that's going to happen only occasionally anyway, unless you decide one day that a completely veggie lifestyle isn't for you anymore. People have been known to change on that, too.

Regardless, though, it really is true that most veggies (full or part-time) are conscientious about food choices, as well as the impact they have on the environment and on the animal population. That really does put us ahead of the crowd, to my thinking. And that careful sense of responsibility we carry with us should be enough to assuage the guilt for an occasional "slip," if it happens.

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