The (Plant-Based) Struggle is Real

Hi, hello, I’m Jamieson. I’ve identified as plant-based for over 8 years now and, for a lot of my friends, I was patient zero for their own veganism. It could have been because I made the transition before it was hashtaggably #cool, or because I never pushed veganism on anyone, allowing my friends the space to ask questions without judgment. Regardless, within my circle, I was the vegan who launched a thousand vegans (or 12).

And then, after 8 years, I ate one egg.

I had been spending a lot of my time focusing on sustainability and what veganism truly meant to me. Did it mean being Instagram perfect? Did it mean supporting small, local farms? Did it mean standing on my head while eating kale and screening Forks Over Knives? Unpacking a lot of layers here. Anyways, what I’m trying to say is, I looked outside the basic rules and decided to evolve my thinking to include supporting small farms who I wanted to invest my money in. And this brings me to the egg.

The reaction I received the first time I added a non-vegan dish to my Instagram story was polarizing. It was met with a lot of hurt and anger, even from humans I had never met. DM’s came flooding in, asking what was going on? I didn’t expect so much backlash. The feminist in me wanted to respond with “It’s my body, I don’t have to answer for what I put in it.” However, I was also met with crushing amounts of shame for eating one egg. Regardless of where it came from.

I decided to keep my digital life fully vegan and privately have an egg every now and again if I so choose. I did remove “Vegan” from my IG bio, as I thought it would be wrong to advertise myself under this word while I was living Flegan (flexible vegan). Even doing this had a handful of folk reaching out wondering why I had nixed the word. I kind of felt naked… as though this choice was not my own to make but mine to share, whether I wanted to or not.

My vegan friends close to me advocated for me just doing me. They told me there might be someone out there who lives plant-based 95% of the time, and that they’d feel empowered to hear from another human who lived an ethical life which included mindful exceptions now and again. But the PTSD from my DM disaster kept me in the dark. I was a slave to presenting myself as fully plant-based. It was a very strange and inauthentic place to be.

I wondered, does making a choice outside the scope of these invisible “rules” mean I am excommunicated from the vegan community? Is there going to be a trial? Am I being too dramatic? Is everyone else being too dramatic? It was only one egg from a wonderful small farm on Vancouver Island. But it meant so much in terms of my identity.

To spare you heaps of time reading, please close your eyes and picture a movie style montage of me unpacking a lot of feelings and doing hours of research. Throw in a bottle of wine here or there and you’re caught up to where I am now.

I’ve decided to live my life honestly as I am in this moment. I eat plant-based nearly every day. If I am at a restaurant, I invest my money in their plantiful options. When I speak to others, I promote the benefits of living plant-based. At home, you’ll find a fridge filled with veggies, tempeh, oat milk, fermented everything, and, on occasion, eggs from local and ethical farms.

I want to continually explore my own way of living. Right now, I am embarking on reducing my waste. I am moving away from fast-fashion. And, over it all, I am Jamieson, a girl who eats plants, challenges her own beliefs and who isn’t “perfect”. Whatever “perfect” means, anyways.

There can be a lot of shame around what we eat. If we remove the judgment and allow people to be… well, people… I feel like we open up way more opportunity. So instead of pushing shame on others, let’s be a beacon of education for those who can’t make the move over to 100% vegan right now. Invite them into the circle rather than DM’ing them with disappointment.

Because I don’t know if “the answer” is for our world to go 100% vegan. I honestly don’t know what “the answer” is, but I do know to live in fear of what others think of us won’t bring anyone closer to it. Fear often motivates, but it doesn’t sustain.

So let’s shake off the error of perfection and support the multiple layers of plant-based living. Let’s stand for getting more people to eat more plants, even if that’s not all they eat. Let’s make sustainable choices in spite of what label we wear. Let’s educate those around us and invite them in, rather than turning all who we deem unworthy away. Because it’s going to take a whole lot of people, different types people, to change the world. We’ve got to be in this together, whether it be with an ethical egg or an avocado, in order to move the mountains needed to protect our planet.

Follow Jamieson on her journey at @jamiesoneileen

Bio: Jamieson is Earth’s Own social media & content champion. From managing our channels to writing our website copy, she’s a fast typing, quick-witted, digital ninja. She’s also a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, which comes in pretty darn handy at a plant-based brand. Really, is there anything Jamieson can’t do? Yes, actually, lots of things. Like play piano or successfully build Ikea furniture. But let’s just focus on the things she can do. Like write this bio about herself.

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