I have a special post for you today. Meatout requested me to write a post on veganism for the Meatout 2011 event, which is today! I would like to take this opportunity to share a story on veganism that is not often heard.
I have all told you before about my struggle with anorexia. I have also shared some bits & pieces on how I recovered. But I don’t think I have ever mentioned how turning vegan has also helped me tremendously with my recovery….
I often hear how vegetarianism or veganism can be precursors to eating disorders. Actually, it’s the other way around, vegetarianism and veganism are sometimes (or often? who knows) used to cover up an existing eating disorder. Having a ‘legit’ excuse to turn down certain food can seem like such a simple solution.
It makes me really sad, sometimes even angry, that such a noble pursuit can be used for something so self-centered and destructive as an eating disorder. Plus, it doesn’t really help give the veg lifestyle an image boost. I’d like to show that vegetarianism and veganism can also do the very opposite.
Even though I didn’t see it at the time, I was still in the midst of recovering from an eating disorder when I decided to go vegan. I was doing really well physically, but in my mind it was still quite some chaos. Going vegetarian wasn’t that big of a step since I wasn’t a big meat eater and I only ate two different sorts of meat anyway, chicken and lean beef. I only ate fish atop a salad or on my bread, not a big fish fan. But going vegan seemed almost impossible. I basically lived off of fat free quark, fat free yogurt and low fat cheese. I decided to do it anyway.
I soon discovered veganism doesn’t really play in to the high protein low fat fad. I’ve never run into a fat free soy yogurt before. All the veggie burgers I know have twice the amount of calories of chicken and lean beef. From low fat cheese I switched to avocado on bread. The extra extra light ‘butter’ I used had to be replaced for a version with a lot more fat. Going vegan pushed me out of my comfort zone just like that. For me it also instantly built a sense of connection with veganism. If I was giving up all my light products for the animals then I better get something in return…
..And I did. It gave me a sense of worth and a newfound respect for life. It wasn’t before long I began to notice my usual thoughts accompanying food and eating deminished. Anxiety, shame, anger, calorie counting. New thoughts and feelings began to surface. Happiness, pride, joy. With every meal and every food choice I made, I was giving back to the Earth. I was voting with my money, and my knife and fork, for a better world. I was no longer contributing to something so horrendous and unetchical as industrial farming. You have no idea (well, some of you do ) how strong these feelings are and how greatl their impact is on your life. I am not kidding when I say veganism has made me a better person.
Veganism opened many doors for me. I became not only more interested in animal well-being, but also the well-being of all other creatures on this planet. And, the planet itself. Finding out going vegan is the single best thing you can do for a better environment instilled an ever greater sense of joy in me. Going vegan made me a better cook and got me hooked on baking. Veganism also changed my perspective in life. I used to shop all the time, I still have obscene amounts of clothes that I never wear. Now I’d rather spend time reading, exercising, cooking, etc. Shopping, to me at least, was something I needed to make me feel better about myself, and to give me a sense of worth to the outside world. I have become much more introspective; I need to feel good for me, and not look good for others.
All things fell into place.
So what I’d like to portray with this story is that there’s many more sides to veganism than ‘giving up’ meat and dairy. Veganism is never about giving something up, it’s about making conscious decicions to exclude unnecessary harm out of your life, and by doing so getting so much back in return.