I am a vegan with an eating disorder.
I am also a vegan with an eating disorder. I was EDed before I became vegan, then I was recovered and vegan and now I am EDed and vegan. For me being vegan is a moral decision not a symptom of a disorder. Unfortunately I’ve encountered disbelief from mental health professionals and had I not been recovered for five years I think they would have continued to insinuate it was a symptom of illness.
I suspect there is a subset of people with an eating disorder who are vegan to further restrict their diet or say they are vegan as an excuse not to eat/to eat less in public. I don’t see how that is any different to people who claim to be allergic/intolerant to foods or who claim to fast for religious/spiritual purposes when the real motivation is an eating disorder. Nobody would dream of saying all people who fast for religious/spiritual purposes are secretly eating disordered so why is it acceptable to make such ridiculous sweeping statements about veganism?
I am completely in favour of supporting people to understand the motivations behind their behaviour and choices and working towards changing the behaviour if it makes them unhappy/is harmful but the motivation for any behaviour is dependent on the individual. It is possible to be physically healthy and vegan but it is hard to be emotionally healthy if every day you do something you believe to be morally/ethically/environmentally wrong. To me recovery from any mental illness includes living according to your values and principles rather than having them pushed aside by an illness. Being vegan is a sign I am living my life according to my personal beliefs and values, not a symptom of an eating disorder. For someone who is motivated to be vegan only to further restrict their diet, recovery may mean a return to eating animal products. That can only be ascertained through treating each person as an individual.
Sorry for the rant! As you may be able to hear, this is a topic that really gets to me.
I do hear you! I am vegan for ethical reasons. I resent anyone who thinks that is part of my ED behaviour. The fact that it helps me restrict more is just coincidence not purpose.
I’m not vegan because I like cheese too much. I also never had a moral reason behind going vegan. I became a vegetarian literally to avoid having to eat food I didn’t prepare because every time I was supposed to eat at someone’s home, at work, etc, there was meat involved. If I was a vegetarian, instant excuse not to eat their food. I tried switching to vegan for the same reason, to narrow down food and increase the foods I could easily excuse myself from eating. However, by that point, I was already bulimic (whereas I had been anorexic when I switched to vegetarian) and I binged on too many foods that are not vegan and I had a much harder time sticking to it. I gave up and went back to just being vegetarian and that’s where I am now.
I’ve tried doing gluten-free at my doctor’s suggestion, but I had the same problem I had with being vegan. However, now I’ve kind of scared myself out of eating starches in general, which automatically makes me gluten-free. It’s amazing what just one week of restricting will do to my paranoia.
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