vegan diet

Can you be a part-time vegan?

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Becoming a vegan is a huge step for most people and the transition often isn’t straightforwards. Whilst there are some people who wake up one morning, think “I’m going to be vegan” and then never touch a cheese sandwich again, for most people, it’s not that easy.

Do you love the idea of becoming a vegan, but worry that it’s too big of a leap to take? What if you want to become ‘mostly vegan’? Is there such a thing as a part-time vegan? This post discusses whether or not it’s okay to say that you’re a ‘part-time vegan’.

Can you be a part-time vegan?

Yes! It’s entirely possible to follow a vegan diet part of the time. You could be a part-time vegan on certain days of the week, at certain times of the day, or just when it’s most convenient to do so.

You could follow a vegan diet 99% of the time, or just 10% of the time. Any time you choose to avoid harming an animal, you’re doing a good thing.

Militant vegans would say no

Some vegans would argue that it’s not possible to be a part-time vegan. They would say that being a part-time vegan is akin to being against domestic violence and only beating your wife at the weekend.

Militant and abolitionist vegans would say that veganism is a way of life, not a trendy diet that you can pick up and put down when you want to.

However, there are problems with this purist all or nothing approach in that it can put people off even trying to become vegan in the first place.

vegan protest rally

The problem with pushy vegans

There are some vegans, you might have met one or two, who believe that any type of animal consumption by anybody is completely unacceptable. They have the end goal of a 100% vegan world and may try to convert others to become vegan buy using guilt as a tool.

These people are what give vegans a bad name. They’re the ones who’ll shame you for ordering the cheesecake, rather than praising you for ordering the vegan starter and main.

By spreading the message that veganism is ‘all or nothing’, super-strict pushy vegans make people more likely to abandon the philosophy altogether, rather than to gradually reduce the animal products that they consume.

Veganism is a spectrum

What you need to understand is, even lifelong vegans don’t always agree with whether some things are vegan or not.

Take sugar, for example. In the UK, sugar is vegan. But in the US, sugar is sometimes made using animal bones. Unfortunately, Americans have no way of knowing whether the sugar they’re buying contains animal remains or not. Whilst some vegans will avoid sugar altogether, this is incredibly difficult, so others make the decision to eat it. And guess what, both people are still vegan!

vegan sugar candy

You do you

The key point to this is that you should do whatever you feel comfortable with. Want to go the whole hog? Fine. Want to be vegan except for honey and wool? Fine. Want to eat vegan only on Mondays? Fine! You can be whatever you want to be, it’s your life.

The issue with semantics

Labels suck. I find it’s best to stay away from them wherever possible.

If I ate some milk chocolate last week, do I have to now say I’m a part-time vegan rather than a vegan? Do I have to explain how I’m vegan for the most part, but if someone has a rather delicious-looking box of chocolates in the office then I might occasionally indulge? Do I have to go into the fact that if my vegetarian kid doesn’t finish their cheese sandwich then I might eat the end of it rather than throw it away?

Those who eat a vegan diet most of the time can often feel that they have to explain their choices and stick a label on themselves. You don’t.

Vegan v plant-based v flexitarian v reducetarian

There are various words that people may use to describe their diet:

  • Vegan: a person who does not eat or use animal products
  • Plant-based: a person whose diet consists mostly or entirely of food derived from plants
  • Flexitarian: a person who has a primarily vegetarian diet but occasionally eats meat or fish
  • Reducetarian: a person who actively reduces the amount of meat and/or dairy products they consume

You may find that one of these matches you perfectly. Or perhaps you have tendencies from two or more categories. Perhaps your dietary preferences switch between these over time. This can make it very difficult to label your diet, and another reason why you probably shouldn’t try to.

vegan label

How to be a part-time vegan

There are many different ways follow a vegan diet part of the time. These include:

  • Meat-free Mondays – Following a vegan diet only on Mondays
  • Vegan on weekdays – Relaxing your vegan diet at the weekends
  • No meat after 2pm – Eating a vegan breakfast and lunch
  • Be vegan only at home – Relaxing your vegan diet when you eat out
  • Vegan except for trace ingredients – Eating vegan except for foods that contain small amounts of eggs or milk
  • Be vegan only when vegan food is available – Eating vegan when you can be eating vegetarian when you can’t

The benefits of a part-time vegan diet

The benefits of a part-time vegan diet are very much the same benefits as going completely vegan, just at a lower level. If you eat vegan 90% of the time, you’ll see 90% of these benefits:

  • Save animal lives – by keeping them out of the food chain
  • Alleviate world hunger – by feeding grain to people instead of cattle
  • Help our planet – by reducing toxic emissions caused by animal agriculture
  • Stop the extinction of species – by reducing the loss of rainforest and other areas
  • Health benefits – such as weight loss, lower cholesterol an increased energy
  • Save money – as fresh fruit and vegetables are cheaper than animal products

A part-time vegan diet will also be easier to stick to than a full-time vegan diet. If you can be a part-time vegan forever or a full-time vegan for only a few weeks, then it’s a no-brainer which will have the greatest benefits for your health, the animals and our planet.

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4 thoughts on “Can you be a part-time vegan?”

  1. I love your post. I’ve been a vegetarian for over 12 years. Right now my diet is almost vegan, I only eat small amounts of milk and eggs, for example a doughnut, if there isn’t a vegan one available. On top of that, I bought and still buy wool and honey (don’t eat much of it, but I always have a jar or two at home). I never bought leather in the last 20 years of my life and that includes the car (fabric seats, there is a bit of leather on the steering wheel). But, because of pushy vegans, I don’t say that I’m vegan, unless I need to explain to a cashier why I’m not getting a leather case for sunglasses or similar strange situations like this one.
    A more relaxed approach would help everyone make better choices, more compassionate ones. I’m especially annoyed when a pushy vegan has no issues with palm oil from non-sustainable sources though, as if something is vegan is 100% cruelty-free too.

    Reply
    • 100% agree with you. Small amounts of milk and eggs make no difference in the grand scheme of things and people should be applauded for making a difference like you are.

      Reply
  2. This is great! I’m semi-vegan. I’m vegan when I can be. But if I’m at Everest Base Camp and the dahl contains butter, I’m not going to make a fuss. I call it practical vegan. It works for me and that’s all that matters.

    Reply

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