What to do if you accidentally eat non vegan products as a vegan

Hi everyone

If you have read any of my blog post before you will know I am vegan and have been for aprox 4 years. Before that I was vegetarian for about a year and starting going down the path of buying cruelty free products about 6 months before that. It all happened quite quickly for me.

One thing that has been on my mind recently is accidentally eating non vegan foods. It has happened to me a number of times over the last few years and I am sure I am not alone. I am not talking about accidentally tucking into a beef burger or mistaking chicken for vegan chicken but those more subtle ways that animal products get into foods (milk being the biggest culprit), absent minded eating something and half way through being told or rearlising it has dairy in. Its a horrible feeling, it makes me feel like a fraud, a failure and a bit stupid to be honest.

There are a couple of ways I have fallen into the trap, one not being thorougher enough with my checking when eating out and two accidentally buying something on the assumption it is vegan. My most recent ‘accident’ was eating half a bag of nut mix that my boyfriend had brought. He is the best at supporting me to be vegan even though he personally is a meat eater and he never buys anything that we will share like snacks, crisps, nuts that are not vegan but for some reason on this occasion neither of us looked at the package. They were some supposedly healthy nuts and mix and so I think I got lulled into a false sense of security.

So here I am tucking in while watching a film and about half way through stopped to look at the calorie content – now do not get me wrong I NEVER count calories I don’t really understand what I am counting and I just don’t think its the healthiest practice. However I have been caught out with nuts before as they might be healthy in small doses but contain about 90 million calories per handful. There was no need for me to be eating half a bag anyway – lets be honest! So as I read down the pack there is was in bold MILK.

I was so upset about it, not to mention I already felt sick from the shear quantity of nuts. I felt like such a fool and spent the rest of the day stressed at my carelessness and also a little worried I would get ill as diary never agreed with me in the first place never mind now I have not drank it for 4 years. I also felt really embarrassed even though it was only my boyfriend that knew about it and even though 90% of my friends and family are meat eaters with the odd veggie.

So this got me thinking what should we do if we have an accident with non vegan foods. The conclusion I came to after a few days of worry was nothing, we should do nothing if we accidentally eat vegan foods. We should not beat ourselves up or feel guilt. At the end of the day by choosing a vegan lifestyle you have made a huge effort to live compassionately and accidents happen. These individual mistakes don’t make us any less vegan. That is not to say that we individually cannot make a difference:

Peta advises One person who goes vegan can save approximately 219,000 gallons of water a year. It takes 1,000 gallons of water to produce just one gallon of milk, and beef has an overall water footprint of roughly 4 million gallons per ton.

That’s massive!

Our choices about what we do with our lives including what we buy and put in our mouths will shape the future of the world but beating myself up and feeling guilty will not help anyone. So here are two tips to make you feel better if you have had an accidental meat experience.

1. Be practical – we live in a world designed for meat eaters, things are changing rapidly and that is fantastic but most brands still use meat and diary products as the norm. Diary is used in the vast majority of crisps, snacks and non vegan products even at times when you should have no reason for diary to be present.

2. Look for a good alternative option – use this not as a chance to beat yourself up but to discovery some new and tasty vegan products to replace the accidental meat snack you just ate. There are so many vegan and also non traditional vegan brands pushing our some great vegan products.

I wanted to write this today as I see so many stories about people accidentally eating, buying or being served meat and diary when vegan and feeling guilty and that I thought this might help.

I would love to hear your accidentally not vegan stories and also your thought on this.

Thanks for reading

AKL