Making Mistakes

Accidentally consuming something non-vegan doesn’t mean that you are any less dedicated to the cause. Mistakes happen. As exciting as it is to see so many new vegan products emerge on the market, it does create a new challenge, and sometimes that one item slips by. 

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The Plant-Based or Non-Dairy item contains an animal ingredient...

And you’ve already eaten it.

Unclearly labeled products are a challenge for vegans trying to navigate which products are animal-friendly and which contribute to exploitation. For example, if you see non-dairy ice cream, many people would assume it is likely to be vegan friendly. Unfortunately, turning to the back of the label, some brands have eggs in the ingredients. The target population is likely lactose-intolerant consumers, but it could be misleading to vegans. That frozen pizza labeled “Plant-based Pepperoni Pizza”? The pepperoni is plant-based, but the cheese is not. This product is targeting those who are vegetarian or perhaps do not eat particular meats; again, confusing for the vegan community.

The term “plant-based” has become more and more mainstream and is not synonymous with vegan; although, the food CAN overlap. Similar to “dairy-free/non-dairy,” these items may be vegan, but cannot be assumed to be vegan.

As excited as I am to see so many new vegan products emerge on the market and make veganism more accessible, it creates a new challenge. Every now and then something that appears vegan is not; and sometimes that one item slips by.

How does one deal with this situation?

First of all, you know your intentions. You know that you didn’t intentionally purchase or consume a non-vegan product, and you know your core values. Tripping up doesn’t mean that you are any less dedicated to the cause. Mistakes happen. This is a moment to practice a concept known as radical acceptance.

Radical acceptance is the idea that you: 

  • Acknowledge reality 
  • Notice any negative thoughts about yourself or the situation
  • Come to accept what cannot be changed and allow yourself to acknowledge whatever emotions you feel
  • Make the choice to be conscious of those emotions and work toward greater awareness moving forward. 

I have made mistakes like these, and I’ve had the negative thoughts. Maybe I wasn’t cut out for this. How could I be so careless? What I learned is that the harsh criticism didn’t change what happened or encourage me to be more diligent. It actually moved me farther from the idea that veganism could be a pillar of my life. It made it feel like more of a challenge or stressor rather than an opportunity for personal growth and alignment with my morals. When I was able to radically accept the situation, I was able to appreciate and realize my dedication to the movement.

Mistakes don’t mean that veganism isn’t possible, and they’re not a sign that veganism wasn’t meant for you.

Mistakes are exactly that: mistakes. What matters is how we react to them. And as with all mistakes, the best reaction to a vegan slip-up is to acknowledge what happened, learn the lesson, and keep on moving forward.

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