I’ll let you in on a little secret: all of the vegans out there saving the world are merely vegan-ish. Gasp! They’re still super hardcore for being advocates for kindness and empathy, but animal products can still show up in the weirdest of places (glue, tennis rackets, cement), occasionally making it pretty impractical for vegans to avoid them entirely.

But not being able to do something perfectly is not cause to ditch the effort altogether. If there’s something you can do to make a difference, you should do it! Here’s how being vegan-ish can still have a sizable impact.

The Animals, the Earth, and You

If you cut out a significant amount of animal products from your diet and lifestyle, you will be reducing animal suffering, reducing your carbon footprint, and likely improving your own health. As you open up and reflect on your choices with regards to animals, you might see other issues of social justice in a new light. Allow yourself to consider how your choices affect others, and don’t be surprised if a wondrous sense of determination and empowerment soon follows.

The Food Environment

Even the small choices you make don’t go unnoticed by the food industry. They’ll adjust if you buy fewer animal products and more of everything else. Imagine how happy all the vegans will be as their grocery stores start carrying more varieties of Tofurky and amp up their produce quality and selection. By voting with your fork, you’ll make it easier for others to follow suit.

Your Influence on Others

In taking action based on your values of compassion toward animals, the planet, and your own body, you’ll be setting an example for others. With you paving the way ahead of them, other people may see that it really isn’t that challenging, scary, or weird to be vegan. The person or people that inspire you to change may not inspire the same people that you have the potential to inspire. As the web of eating vegan reaches outward, people will realize that there is no typical vegan and that the people who practice compassionate action are as varied as the animals that they empathize with.

You Might Just Go All the Way

If you try out a vegan lifestyle without first taking a vow of veganism from now until eternity, you could become so smitten with how easy, rewarding, and delicious it is that you continue to test the waters indefinitely. Lucky for you, a few great individuals and organizations have bestowed upon us some excellent introductions to veganism.

Vegan guru Colleen Patrick-Goudreau’s multi-media 30-Day Vegan Challenge can give you the low-down on some compelling reasons for being vegan, how to do it, and how to enjoy it! The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine has created the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart, a program that includes a healthy meal plan as well as educational materials and an online forum. And last but not least, we have Mark Bittman’s “Eat Vegan Before 6:00.” This book is opening up the concept of eating vegan to an entirely new audience.

To answer the question at hand, doing something beats doing nothing — hands down! Make the changes you feel you’re capable of and see where it takes you. You could end up saving the world (-ish!).

Image source: Avocado and Black Bean Tortas