There are many days when I feel totally at peace with the fact that my diet is incredibly specific and that I tend to be limited in social settings when it comes to what I can eat. On these days I sit back, enjoy the company of my friends or family members, and reflect on how I am doing what is best for me, my body, and my conscience. Being vegan is not something that I think about often, but limiting the amount of gluten/wheat that I eat is still new enough that I find myself thinking about this peculiar place I’ve found myself. Like I said, most days I’m at peace with that and I feel grateful that I’m in a position where I can choose what I eat and I’m thankful for the knowledge I’ve cultivated that has led me to making choices that make my body feel good.
But some days it doesn’t feel so rosy. Some days I sit around tables full of food that I don’t eat and I miss the camaraderie of it all. Some days it’s frustrating to feel like I’m on a little island by myself, eating big bowls of rice and veggies and drinking every last drop of my green hued beverages. These are all choices I’ve made that have brought me to where I am now, so sometimes it feels like I don’t have a right to feel disgruntled from time to time. And thus begins a cycle of guilt and feeling sorry for myself…
If I’ve learned anything in the last five years since going vegan, it’s that sometimes I have to do what’s best for my body and sometimes I have to do what’s best for my soul. These are often linked, and result in me eating the same nutritious food, but from time to time what’s best for my soul is a gooey grilled cheese with processed vegan cheese. Now I’m not going to all of a sudden go out and get a pepperoni pizza, because I am very firmly an ethical vegan and see no value for meat and eggs and dairy in my life anymore, but some days, especially if I’m surrounded by my loved ones, my heart really just wants to feel included. That may lead to me enjoying a very glutinous bagel with tofu cream cheese or a vegan doughnut from my favorite doughnut place. And that’s okay. There’s a chance that I may not feel that great after eating it, but it’s all a balancing act. This last weekend I had an amazing vegan pizza on regular crust with two of my close friends and it was SO worth it. I was incredibly happy while eating it and enjoyed my leftovers thoroughly! Did it follow my usual “food rules?” Nope! Did it make me feel connected to other people and put a big smile on my face? You bet!
You may be reading this and saying to yourself “okay, I eat a typical diet, how does this relate to me?” This can apply to any choices you make in your life that leave you feeling conflicted. You have the right to do what is best for you but you also have an obligation to show yourself some compassion and understanding when your choices aren’t the “right” choices. What’s best for you in one moment may not be best for you in another. Follow your instincts, stick to your values, but don’t forget your heart along the way. Happiness can come from many sources – don’t lost sight of that.