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Everyone who calls themselves vegan and everyone who aspires to be vegan has vegan-policehad a fear of the vegan police.

You know, the people who are going to call us out, maybe in front of everyone, for not being a perfect vegan all the time (as if there were such a thing).

We’re scared those vegan cops will catch us doing or eating something that isn’t purely vegan 100% of the time, and that they’ll read us our rights and toss us in jail.

I want to go out on a limb here and tell you all the reasons the vegan police could arrest me.

But here’s the thing: the vegan police haven’t arrested me. And they’re not going to arrest you.

Stick with me through my “confessions” to see why you don’t have to be perfect to be vegan.

  • I have leather shoes from before I went vegan. And sometimes I wear them. It just wasn’t practical financially for me to throw away all my old shoes and replace them with vegan ones (as much as I’d like to go on a vegan shoe shopping spree!). Any time I need new shoes, I buy vegan ones. Do the vegan police show up at my door for this? No!
  • Sometimes I’ll have a slice of non-vegan birthday cake. If I’m at a birthday celebration, and the cake is not vegan, I will occasionally eat a small slice. Not every time (I really don’t like the way dairy and eggs taste anymore), but sometimes – particularly if it will rain on the birthday girl or boy’s parade if I don’t, and more importantly, because the cake has already been bought, which was what I was trying to prevent in the first place. My not eating it at this point makes no difference in terms of my goal of reducing animal suffering. If my eating a slice of cake were to cause them to need to buy MORE cake, I would not. So in terms of my goal, it doesn’t hurt anything to eat a small slice (even though it’s definitely not healthy for me). And the birthday parties have never been stormed by the vegan police.
  • I go to Taco Bell about once a month. I get vegan food there (Taco Bell’s food is easy to veganize), but it’s hardly something a “perfect” vegan would do. Fast food isn’t healthy or the most ethical of businesses by any means. But it’s only every once in a while and the food I get is in line with my reduce-animal-suffering-as-much-as-I-can goal, so I’m ok with it. No vegan handcuffs.
Yep, that's a Taco Bell Crunch Wrap Supreme, minus beef, add beans, no cheese, no sour cream.

Yep, that’s a Taco Bell Crunch Wrap Supreme, minus beef, add beans, no cheese, no sour cream.

  • I’ve eaten something that’s not vegan by accident on more than one occasion. There have been times when menu items have been mislabeled, or I simply misread ingredients. Did I chastise myself mercilessly? No. There’s no point. I just got right back on the vegan wagon…and no paddy wagon showed up!

If I’ve done all these things and the vegan police haven’t arrested me, they’re not coming after you.

Truly, our fear of the vegan police is our fear of being called a hypocrite.

We don’t want to have inconsistencies in our ideals and what we do, and we certainly don’t want people to see those inconsistencies if and when they do happen.

Yet I’ve just put myself out there.

I’m risking being called a hypocrite (maybe in the comments right below this post!).

I’m risking arrest from the vegan police by admitting these “crimes” to the world – but I think it’s worth it to show you that being vegan isn’t about striving for perfection; it’s about striving for your ideals.

To me, the most important thing is that we have these ideals – of animal rights, of health, and of taking care of our planet – and that WE’RE DOING SOMETHING ABOUT THEM, even at the risk of not being perfect.

Even at the risk of being called a hypocrite.

To paraphrase Winston Churchill: You have critics? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something in your life. (Click here for the original quote.)

It’s just not possible to be perfect. But I’m not going to let that stop me from doing the best I can.

Remind yourself that you are brave just for striving for your ideals. It’s better to try and not be perfect than not to try at all.

To clarify, I’m not saying we should eat a giant steak every night for dinner and say “I’m vegan but not perfect” – I’m saying to try our best and be ok with the inevitable imperfections.

So go ahead, if you feel so inclined. Try!

To Handcuff-Free Hands and a Better World!