Moving Veg a Step at a Time

The path to veganism is not about perfection. Improve what you can, one day at a time.

Whatever your reasons for going vegan or switching to a plant-based diet are, good for you. You’ve taken a step toward a better world. 

“Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” 

Gretchen Rubin

“The best is the enemy of the good.” 


These two quotes are a great reminder. When we move to veganism or a plant-based diet, it is not about perfection. It is about improving today compared to yesterday, or this week in comparison to last week, or even this year compared to last year. It is about improving the lives of animals, humans, and the planet we share. 

There will be occasions on this journey where you mistakenly order something that is non-vegan, or you are served something that is non-vegan or has non-vegan ingredients. You haven’t failed if you choose to scrape off the non-vegan item and eat the meal anyway! You’ll learn, you’ll have more information for next time, and you’ll adapt. 

Did you hear about the person who sued Burger King because they didn’t disclose that the Impossible Whopper was cooked on the same grill with the beef Whopper? I understand their concern, but the reality is beef, chicken, pork, and the like are not allergens and your favorite restaurant is not necessarily obligated to tell you your vegetables or your salad were prepared on the same surface or pan as animal-based items. It’s important to keep in mind that the surface your plant-based burger is cooked on does not change the number of animals slaughtered for food. That said, if this is a concern for you, be sure to ask about it before you order. 

Some of us on this vegan or plant-based journey are doing it in a house full of meat-eaters. In the beginning, the temptation to eat foods you aren’t eating anymore or someone in your house eating the vegan leftovers you brought home last night can be real problems. 

Educating yourself about the realities of animal agriculture, getting to know the personalities of animals at a local farm sanctuary (subscribe to CAA’s newsletter for information on tours!), and reviewing your goals for moving plant-based can help keep you on track. 

If you slip and have a piece of non-vegan cheese, or you add egg-based mayo to a sandwich or dish by mistake, get over it and keep moving forward toward your goal, whatever the reason you are on this journey.


What’s the difference between veganism & a plant-based diet? 

Veganism is a 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. 

The Vegan Society

A plant-based diet is a diet consisting mostly or entirely of foods derived from plants, including vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, legumes and fruits, and with few or no animal products. 


What are your goals? Why go vegan or move to a plant-based diet?

If an abundance of incredible plant-based food isn’t reason enough to go vegan, here are a few more. 

  • Health 
  • Environmental justice 
  • Ethical decision to not use animals 
  • Ending racial and income inequality (factory farms aren’t built near million-dollar mansions) 

If you became vegan or plant-based to improve your health, or you want the health benefits but you became vegan for the environment or to save animals, remember you can be vegan or plant-based and still eat unhealthily. Eating healthily still takes work and time, and as I said earlier, good is greater than perfection. 

I love that Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat exist today. While eating an Impossible Whopper or other highly processed vegan foods every day is not going to improve my health, it’s nice to have the option when you wish to indulge or treat yourself on occasion. 

Whatever your reasons for making the switch, never forget that you’ve taken a bold step that benefits animals, the environment, and can improve your own health! Here are three key ideas to keep in mind to make your transition to vegan or plant-based diet successful: 

  1. Eat enough calories 
  2. Eat whole plants 
  3. Find and discover foods you love by trying things you haven’t tried before. Eat a variety of legumes, whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, herbs, and spices. 

Ultimately, going veg is a journey, so be sure to enjoy it! 


This article was originally published in the 2020 issue of Twin Cities Veg Living.

Henry Patterson is a St. Paul, MN, native, one-time resident of California vegan for the last 7½ years, and currently a caretaker to two healthy 5-year old vegan Basenji dogs, Emi and Lokan. His path to veganism was not overnight; it was a journey through pescetarian to vegetarian and finally to vegan. The journey was not perfect. 

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