The Vegan Dilemma: Throw it away or eat conciously

The past few days, I’ve harbored an internal struggle in my veganism. Nothing too life changing, but something I want to address. The simple fact that I want to address it actually makes me question the validity.


Lately I have asked myself, which is worse, consuming something with trace amounts of animal product or throwing it away.


I would never willingly consume (when I say consume, I mean buy) an animal product or something that contains it if it can be avoided. Voting with your dollar is really the best activism when resources are limited. Recently I’ve embarked on a 3 month grocery challenge whereby I do not buy groceries and eat only food from my job that would have gotten thrown away. I am not sure of some of the ingredients of some of the marinated veggies or rice/pasta dishes, but as long as it is not obviously cream-based, I include it in my challenge.


In addition to throwing away food, we also throw pastries away if they are too “old”. I have always only eaten the vegan ones and not given it a second thought. However, being the holidays and the store being closed, pastries and food go bad faster. My boss threw away about 6 pastries the other morning and two cakes. TWO WHOLE CAKES! I had never noticed the pastry waste before, and began to wonder if that would be something to include in my challenge.


Inside my mind, a battle raged like: “you don’t know the ingredients” and “eating too many pastries isn’t good for you anyway” or “what about respecting the animals?” and of course “you are just craving sugar and want an excuse to eat them.”

I would like to debunk these myths right now:

1.) I may not know the ingredients, but I don’t know the ingredients in many things I eat and still include them to reduce waste.

2.) I eat a healthy diet normally and a pastry here and there is fine (and delicious!)

3.) I believe I live consciously with respect to the animals. There is no way I can eliminate all animal suffering.

4.) Of course I like sugar! It’s not an excuse, I’ll admit it, I like pastries every once and a while!

After thinking this over and talking with my co-worker (who with her girlfriend is trying to live vegetarian and sustainably) I have decided that if the pastries are going to be thrown away and the main ingredient isn’t a cream or milk base, if I want them, I will take one. I will continue my vegan buying policy and never use animal products when I cook for myself or others. Throwing away something a creature has suffered to give you is cruel in itself. The sacrifice they have made should not be looked over by the food being thrown away.

pumpkin cheesecake

I continue to live consciously and as ethically as I can.

What do you make of my decision?

If you were say paleo and you saw something perfectly good getting thrown away (say a baked potato etc), would you eat it?



  1. I know this comment is a couple of days late, but this is a great topic for discussion and I wanted to share my thoughts. Personally, I don’t consider myself to be 100% vegan because while I typically consume plant-based foods at home, never eat meat, and prefer not to eat eggs or dairy products, I will make an exception when I am eating out at restaurants and would rather not make a fuss about getting something that is COMPLETELY vegan. That being said, I rarely eat out anyway, so I suppose I am something like a “95% vegan.” Also, I will sometimes eat products made with honey, so that clearly makes me non-vegan 😉 As a result, I definitely support your decision, and I think in this case, it is less wasteful to simply eat the pastries even if they may contain trace amounts of animal products. Throwing out two entire cakes does seem like a waste, though I know this is a common occurrence in most restaurants. I think it’s important not to get TOO hung up on labels and obsessing over every single ingredient in food as long as you generally strive to eat wholesome and nourishing food. I love eating cookies, cake, pies, etc…every once in a while as well, and can’t see myself completely giving up sugar anytime soon. I do try to use either raw sugar, maple syrup, molasses, or other more “natural” sweeteners when I bake, though I know that nutritionally speaking, they are all fairly similar to one another. Well, molasses is probably the healthiest, I suppose, since it has small amounts of iron and calcium. I’ll stop gabbing away now and say that if I was in your situation, I probably would have done the same thing!

    • Thank you for the great comment! I’m glad there are people who do not see things as black and white, but as shades of gray. We all do out part and make the best of our situation. Sometimes the best way to support the movement is to not be the stereotypical vegan who complains about everything. I think more people can relate to me that way.

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