Veganism is on the horizon of exploding with popularity. It seems like hopping on the vegan bandwagon is the chic’ thing to do with celebrities like Beyonce and Jay Z doing a 22 day vegan kick start last year, J-Lo recently confessing her love for the lifestyle and even Jessica Simpson going on a 2 week vegan cleanse prior to her wedding. I’m all for any publicity in the media to promote a vegan lifestyle but I think many people are confused about what being a vegan means.
So the question is, what exactly is a vegan?
That’s it. Plain and simple.
- raw plant foods only
- alkaline foods only
- starches only
- living off of sea vegetables
- a diet primarily made up of fruit and vegetable juices
and so on! This list may seem ridiculous, but there are vegans that fit in each of those groups who believe their diet is the “right vegan diet” and there are so many people touting their “brand of veganism” that newbies, the general public and even long term vegans can become confused out of their minds! Obviously if you followed all of the diet combinations above, there would be literally nothing left for you to consume. So which of the above is the right vegan diet?
I’m telling you that unless you have a specific food allergy (celiac, etc.), are significantly overweight (or morbidly obese), or have a life threatening illness or disease, the answer is:
NONE OF THE ABOVE
If you are following several of the items on the list above, you may be on a DEPRIVATION DIET. I don’t believe that those diets are sustainable in the long term.
For me and my body, my vegan diet is one made up of moderation and commonsense. My diet includes an abundance of raw and cooked plant foods with lots of colors. I eat plant foods in their whole forms as much as possible and I enjoy some more processed vegan treats on special occasions. I eat tofu, lots of beans and lentils, whole grains, potatoes and whole wheat bread. I love food and I don’t enjoy deprivation. I use salt on my food, because I like the way it tastes and it doesn’t have any negative effect on my blood pressure. When I use sugars, I try to use less of it then a recipe calls for. I also choose less refined versions because I believe they are better for my body. I use oil on occasion, but I use it judiciously. Sometimes, when I’ve indulged in too much good food, I’ll go on a short juice bender or limit my intake of heavier foods for a period of time. I exercise because I like the way it makes my body and mind feel. I’m okay with all of these choices. They are within my belief system and they make me feel at peace.
I’m here to tell you that
CHOOSING NOT TO EAT ANIMALS AND THEIR SECRETIONS DOES NOT CAUSE EATING DISORDERS.
People who severely restrict their intake of multiple food groups within the boundaries of a vegan diet likely have a mental illness that is causing an eating disorder. People who blame their eating disorders on veganism have likely been using veganism as a scapegoat to fuel their restrictive eating disorder.
NON SUSTAINABLE PLANT-BASED DIETS FUELED BY AN EATING DISORDER CAN CAUSE PEOPLE TO BECOME EX-VEGANS
At some point people following deprivation diets will make the person eating in this manner feel severely deprived and that person may start to question their veganism. Instead perhaps they should be questioning their deprivation diet. Animal foods are not necessarily the answer.
The problem is, veganism isn’t just some restrictive fad diet. It’s a lifestyle and a belief system. So, if you’re a vegan, I’m asking you to evaluate that belief system and be honest with yourself about your motivations and your goals. Are you in it for the animals or are you in it because you have self-destructive tendencies?
In my diet transition, I originally went plant-based for health reasons. It wasn’t until about 6 months into my journey that I really made the connection that the decision to stop eating animals and their secretions wasn’t only better for my health, but also that I didn’t want to eat them anymore because I love all creatures and I don’t want to contribute to their suffering when I can live a healthy and strong diet by consuming plants.
That’s when I became a vegan. Being a vegan makes me feel a lot of joy! I love my diet. I eat a more varied, colorful and beautiful diet than I ever did before eschewing animal foods.
I realized that eating a vegan diet has a profound environmental impact for good. It teaches my children compassion and love. Something hopefully that they’ll carry on and teach their children.
Finally, most of the people I know are not vegan. I respect their food choices and I hope they respect mine. This post isn’t intended as a bashing session. (and comments to that end will be moderated or deleted). I understand that many who have moved away from a vegan diet have done so due to health complications. Not having a support network of vegan friends and or the advice of a doctor that understands a plant-based diet can make it difficult to continue a cruelty-free lifestyle. I respect their decisions and wish them well on their journey to health and inner peace.
What I’m hoping to do here is to reach out to those who are struggling with vegan food because of restrictive eating habits. Come back and enjoy food again. Get some help from from a professional if you need it. Here is a link to help you find a vegan doctor in your area. Eat all the plants, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds in all their colors and varieties. Make friends with other vegans that eat a wide variety of plant foods! Either online or in a local vegan group. Search out a medical doctor that respects your food decisions. Reconsider your deprivation diet before you consider eating animals again.