I happened to catch part of an episode of Dr. Oz’s afternoon show the other day. Ever since I learned that he and his wife are vegans, my opinion of this uber-popular television personality went up a few points.
His guest that day was tennis player Venus Williams, a beautiful woman who grew up just a few miles from where I’ve lived most of my life. I’ve never been much of a tennis fan, but I stopped to listen to what she had to say anyway.
Dr. Oz asked her if it was true she is a vegan. She said that would depend on whether they have cameras in the green room. She may have had a piece of cheese from the cheese platter, she admitted, but if no cameras were in the room, she was a vegan. In fact, she said “I’m a cheegan.” Now I’m not sure if that’s cheegan for “eats cheese” or “cheagan,” for a cheating vegan. Either way, she outed herself as not being a perfect creature.
I take comfort in the fact that I am not the only vegan that backslides every once in a while. I went vegetarian as soon as they removed the straightjacket I was in after watching some of Peta’s footage of slaughterhouses in 1987, but becoming a vegan was a longer process. I had many false starts, and pizza was a deal-breaker. When I foolishly admitted this to people on the Internet whom I did not know and with whom I would never break bread, I was symbolically crucified for being a hypocrite, a phony and a heretic. Geez, I shoulda just lied, how’d they ever know?
Then came the judgments and the labels. I was harassed for not being a “real” animal-rights activist. Being an American human, naturally I pushed back. The harder they came at me, the more I dug in my heels. But in time, the harassment waned and the haters moved on to some other poor schmuck and I was able to continue my journey to becoming a vegan in peace. Soon after, I made the complete transition.
There is always temptation, it’s all around us. I’ve been “helpfully counseled” that Coca-Cola and Guinness have animal products in them. Luckily, my favorite beer, Corona, is vegan-friendly, but I guess I’m cheating when I indulge in a pint of Guinness once a year to celebrate my Irish heritage. Truth is, I don’t like it. I guess I could disguise it with green food coloring, but really, who wants to drink green beer? Maybe I can switch to Jameson’s instead and still be traditionally festive. Hey, I’m nothing if not flexible.
I once told my therapist that I felt incredibly guilty when I ate something that may contain milk and eggs, such as birthday cake. She said “You don’t have to be a great vegan, you only have to be a good vegan.”
Since Tofurkey came out with a vegan pizza, I’m happy to report that pizza is no longer a deal breaker.
Sorry about the Coke.
*Image courtesy of Flickr creative commons.