Vegan Q&A: Cheat Days

I’m planning to do these Vegan Q&A posts on Mondays, answering questions from my followers as well as questions I hear regularly from family and friends. You can post your questions in the comments below, or PM me at the Orthodox and Vegan Facebook page!

Today I’m addressing a question I’ve been asked several times: “Do you ever have a cheat day?” By this, people are asking if I occasionally make the conscious decision to eat foods that aren’t vegan (meat, eggs, dairy).

Short answer: No.

I think people usually assume I’m vegan strictly for dietary reasons (which might explain why they’re shocked to see me eating, for example, a bag of Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos…). On a diet, it’s normal to treat yourself with a cheat day once in a while; however, I’m not on a diet. I care about my health, but that’s a totally separate issue. Let’s look at the actual definition of veganism, coined by The Vegan Society in 1979:

Vegan Q&A: Cheat Days | Orthodox and Vegan

“A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”

For vegans, a cheat day isn’t simply taking a break from a diet – cheat days mean taking a break from an ethical stance. One friend likened it to being asked if she and her spouse ever have a cheat day 😀 (NO!!) More than anything else, a cheat day would make me feel like I’m cheating the animals.
I also have to admit I no longer see animal products as food. I’m like the kid from The Sixth Sense, but I see dead animals. It may not be so simple for others, but my brain automatically classifies animal products as inedible, so there’s no temptation.

What do you think about cheat days? Comment below!

6 thoughts on “Vegan Q&A: Cheat Days

  1. A very interesting article, thanks for posting! I’d also say “no”, for much the same reasons – I certainly don’t feel any desire to have “days off” from being vegan.

    The closest thing I have to “cheat days” is that there are certainly days when I’ll go for the thing that I’m pretty sure looks vegan on the menu at a cafe/restaurant, without checking to be 100% sure, because I’m not feeling in the mood for having a long conversation about it (or, when I’m travelling in countries where I’m bad at the language, because I don’t think I’ll be able to explain “vegan”). But that’s not a *conscious* decision not to be vegan – that’s just me being lazy / shy (but probably just lazy…)

    • There have definitely been times when I simply forgot to ask or figured something was probably safe, then as I’m eating it I think, “Oh crap…” Because you never know unless it’s actually marked vegan. There have been at least two occasions when my stomach let me know I had a slip up 🙁

  2. Due to different circumstances [healthwise and other] I’ve veered off the vegan path a few times. But a plant based diet is what works best for me and now I’m making plans to get my pets on board.

  3. Absolutely! The marriage analogy is brilliant. We can all make mistakes like eating something and then finding out that the recipe has changed – I’ve done that enough times but I don’t set out to ‘cheat’ like sneaking in a bit of cheese or fish when no one is looking. Ultimately veganism is an individual witness to the possibility of a better world and sticking with this vision, however imperfectly, is the key thing. As you say we betray the animals if we set out to cheat or if we leave veganism behind. I’m happy to use the term veganism, rather than plant-based eating, as it incorporates the ethic of compassion and affirms the value of animal lives. I’ve been vegan for 41 years now (and eat crisps, chocolate, drink alcohol etc.) but I’m just starting out on my Orthodox journey so v. happy to have found this site.

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