First of all, I cook vegan recipes all the time, and I don’t have any milk, cheese or eggs in my refrigerator. I’m basically a vegan but I don’t call myself a vegan, and maybe you should too (if you are struggling to become a vegan!).
Before giving you the reasons, let’s do a flashback to 2009 when I tried my first attempt at becoming a vegan. When I worked as a model back then, I thought I could succeed at being a vegan in Tokyo but it was really tough. I was eating sushi (with fish) all the time, or eating free milk chocolates that were handed out at clubs when I was partying it up. I thought I was eating dark chocolate. I was wrong and basically in denial. Big time. I convinced myself that I was a vegan doing the right thing and I was bragging the label to everyone like I was so cool and different. But I wasn’t, and then there was this Polish model in my agency who was an ex-vegetarian/self-admitted failure who was always after me, constantly reminding me how I wasn’t a real vegan. She was always trying to make me look like a fraud. At the time I thought she was seriously annoying but years later I realized she was kind of right. I tried a second attempt at becoming a vegan two years later and failed again.
Why did I fail over and over again at becoming a vegan? Restrictions. If you restrict yourself too much, at some point you’re going to give in. Like any strict diet, you will eventually crave that favorite burger and cheat. Same thing for a guy in a relationship that’s a habitual cheater. There comes a time when he has to admit to himself that monogamous relationship are not for him…. I believe in balance, like eating healthy and having a cheat day where you can eat that damn burger. Right now I’m eating mostly vegan but once in awhile I’ll eat pizza or a non-vegan meal at a restaurant and I don’t feel guilty, the vegan police isn’t after me, and I still deeply care about animals. I’m not encouraging the suffering of cows and chickens. I’m aware of it but your happiness in the long run is more important than you torturing yourself with guilt over the fact that you want to order that regular latte today instead of the one with almond milk.
Also, another reason is the pressure that comes with the label. Being a vegan comes with high expectations and living up to it. It’s so restrictive that you need to be a hardcore believer and it seems like you can’t make one single mistake or someone will rub it in your face even if they’re not a vegan or a vegetarian. A vegetarian is one step down from a vegan and will wait for the vegan to make a mistake so they can judge the fake vegan harshly to make that person not worthy of that precious label. I don’t want to live my life being afraid of constantly being watched if I’m a real vegan or not. I want to feel free and feel like I can bite in a piece of cheese without being judged and being told: “But you said you’re a vegan!” No thank you, I don’t need the pressure, I will simply label myself a vegetarian and life will be easier. The same thing applies for the “vegan lifestyle”; I own leather boots and I use beauty products that might not be vegan friendly. Fur is a big no-no for me though but I do the best I can to buy vegan-friendly beauty products, clothes, purses, etc… If my heart is set on a leather purse, well… I’m not perfect… But I do take the vegetarianism thing seriously, so you won’t see me eating a steak ‘cause I feel like it. There are some limits.
If being a vegan works for you, that’s great, and I admire your strong dedication and mental toughness but if you’re like me and you can’t handle too many restrictions, you need to tell your brain that if you eat that slice of cheese pizza (my favorite!), you’ll be alright and you’ll still contribute to saving the animals. The most important thing after all is to listen to yourself and what your body needs.