If you are recovering from an eating disorder, I wouldn’t be surprised if you also toyed with the idea of veganism. A lot of the philosophy lies behind “eating in abundance” and “nourishing your body”, all while focusing on the health properties of food. Some may use concepts such as eating “cruelty free” or “for the greater good of the planet”. While all true, I wasn’t trying to conceal my eating disorder pull to veganism with some ethical reason. Truth is, this was yet another license to eat that spoke to my eating disorder. When veganism is promoted as the highway to health, with humongous and esthetically pleasing meals, containing minimal fat and maximal “clean” ingredients, for someone recovering from anorexia the attraction of such a diet is real.
You know what else is real? Orthorexia. When it came to consuming pulses, avocadoes, potatoes, nuts, seeds, bananas, and dates, I would make it rain. I was eating the “fatty”, not so healthy vegan food too. However, it’s the connotation that a vegan cake carries that gave me peace, as opposed to its non-vegan, milk, butter and other animal fat included alternative. So yeah, I got sucked into veganism for a second, and even that phase helped. When I discovered raw vegan deserts, all things coconut and nutritionally dense treats, the pounds my body needed to recover sure kept pilling up.
The large amount of fiber that would have me leave the table feeling very full and bloated didn’t bother me. We all know those are the last concerns for someone who used to gorge on fruit until physically unable to stand the thought of another strawberry. Anyway, I was very drawn to veganism but I also knew it wasn’t in line with what I expected recovery to be.
Establishing a neutral relationship with food, eating whatever the fuck I was given, being able to eat later if something just looked yucky, but also being able to accept the yucky when absolutely starving was the stage I wanted to reach. God knows that in my “non-anorexic days” I had eaten cheese fondue out of politeness for the host, trying not to focus on the smell, reassuring myself, this too shall pass.
Yes, I poked around the idea of veganism and recovery. Although I don’t dismiss others’ recovery on such a diet (I certainly see where and why it can be helpful), I knew that for me, full recovery meant not caring if a treat was full of healthy ingredients, or saturated animal fats and hydrogenated oil. To my point, I am of the belief that whatever works for someone to get them to eat in a way where the weight goes up is good enough for now. Nutritional rehabilitation is key. Can’t stress this enough.
I knew how flawed my vegan thinking was, and I would still tell my mom not to fight me on this one. Eventually she stopped, and when she did, guess what happened. I got over it. I was happy to crave chicken. We are fighting so many anorexic demons; please don’t add another battle to the war. Instead, show us love and support. I went vegan for a couple of days, acknowledging the pull, but refusing to give in. I told myself: “Two years from now, if I want to be vegan, I can. Right now, not a good idea”.
While two years haven’t yet passed, I can say with full confidence that I will never go vegan. With additional research (relating to health problems) in hand, and with further knowledge about eating disorders, I view the strict dietary restrictions of veganism as the highway to hell (not health).
I mulled over making this bold statement, but fuck it, it’s my opinion and I’ve been working hard to get past silencing my thoughts.