Why am I talking about a bagel? That was the tipping point for a friend who had been faithfully vegetarian for years, and was 3 weeks into being vegan. He just wanted to eat a bagel with cream cheese. Because of the rampant all-or-nothing attitudes about veganism (at least that he experienced), he got off the vegan train completely and is now eating meat. I’m aware that there is vegan cream cheese (actually tofutti is delicious), and hopefully that will make it easier for all of us as these alternatives are more available.
I’ve thought of the vegan label a lot. Could there be another name- like vegan light? Or, could we have levels like gold, silver and bronze? The gold members read all ingredient lists and have no leather shoes. But for those who are not perfect, they are comfortable still embracing the cause and being part of it. Just as a more supporting member role.
So many efforts are focused on getting people to go vegan. And, it is a worthy cause. However, unless the motivation stays strong enough, it is only a temporary effort. 84% of people who go vegetarian lapse back into meat-eating, according to this interesting study. But why does this happen, and how can we retain them?
The numbers are a bit grim. I personally know several lapsed vegetarians and vegans. For awhile I wondered if this could happen to me too. After all, many of them were vegetarian for a decade. Although the recidivism is discouraging, I suppose it is better to have been a vegan or vegetarian for years than never at all.
It is also important that we get the health information out there so that people can stay healthy while being vegan. That can be another big reason people revert to eating meat. I take a B12 and Iron supplement and make very healthy plant-based meals.
I believe I have been able to stay vegan (albeit usually bronze or silver) because our whole family eats this way. Also, I don’t have just one reason for doing this. For a long time, I saw vegan and non-vegan as being two separate groups with a fence in the middle (and maybe some absolutist vegans like this idea). I wrote this post three years ago when veganism was new to me about that divide. But, I am coming to see that we are all together in this race, but some are just closer to the front. Some are cheering from the sidelines, and thinking about jumping in. It looks like it could even be fun.
It doesn’t matter so much whether you are in the very front, or walking part of the time, but be part of the movement. Eat the bagel, and stay in the race.