“What if I can’t go vegan?”

Veganism is generally very accessible, affordable and healthy, and the wide range of plant based options make it an option for the vast majority of people. However, there does exist some significant barriers to eating and living 100% plant based, ranging from those in recovery form eating disorders, to lack of food availability and extreme food sensitivity.

It is important to acknowledge however, that veganism is not about perfection, it is about doing the most you can to reduce the harm you cause., given your situation. The definition of veganism is  a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. This definition contains an acknowledgement of the fact that it is not always possible or practicable to avoid all animal products all of the time, it asks only that we do our absolute best at all times, and anyone can do that. No vegan is perfect, and there are things which are just not possible to completely avoid, such as animal tested medication, but no good vegan will ever criticise you for falling short if it is essential and no reasonable vegan alternative exists.

In terms of food, I find that most of the time when someone says they cannot go vegan, they usually can. It is not that they are lying, it is often just that people are not aware of the wide variety of plant based options, or alternatives for food they are allergic to or intolerant of. Sometimes it is also the case that they have been advised by a doctor that they cannot go vegan, but keep in mind that doctors are generally very poorly informed on nutrition as do not receive much training on it, and don’t tend be any better informed about veganism than the general population is. A qualified nutritionist with a knowledge of plant based nutrition will be better placed to advise, but even then, find out specifically what it is you need, and you will almost definitely be able to find a viable plant based source for it. There is no know physical health issue that absolutely necessities the consumption of animal products, and there is no vitamin, mineral or nutrient which cannot be obtained on a vegan diet.

In cases where a 100% plant based diet is not achievable, people often assume that it is an “all or nothing” kind of lifestyle, and that if you can’t do it all you shouldn’t do any of it. The best thing to do in this situation however, is to try to eat as plant based as you are able to and follow vegan principles as much as your condition or situation allows. This means eating vegan whenever it is in your power to do so, whether that is ordering out, or just replacing meats and animal products with good plant based foods whenever possible. There is no health reason why someone would not be able to stop using animal fabrics, for example, or to boycott animal tested cosmetics and cleaning products. By doing these things, you would be doing everything you can to avoid cruelty to and exploitation of animals as far as is practicable for you, which is what veganism is all about. I would suggest having a look at my guide to going veganand just seeing which of these things you can do and which you don’t feel able to attempt yet, and using one of the incremental methods to take it slowly.

We are in a situation where animal agriculture is destroying our planet, is driving species extinction, is using an unconscionable amount of resources, is exploiting humans and killing trillions of animals per year. In that context, we all need to do everything we can to oppose it, even if what we can do isn’t a complete boycott. Veganism is not about moral puritanism, no good vegan will ever judge you if you are doing all you physically can. Besides, regardless money you can take away from animal agriculture industries is a good thing, and if everyone couldn’t eat completely plant based did this it would have real impact. Just do what you can, no one can ask more than that. If you need any help and support doing this, whether it’s general advice or personalised meal plans, then feel free to send me an ask or a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

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