You are here

using veganism to hide or facilitate an eating disorder

All right, I think I have written a book here. And maybe no one gives a shit…but here goes…

I feel strongly compelled to bring up and discuss an issue that I would never touch normally...but I'm concerned enough about it to speak up. Now, anyone that has read posts by the Bunny (that’s me) knows that I just come right out and say what is on my mind. So I’ll just say it…

I think there are many girls/women on this forum who are using veganism as a way to justify, facilitate, or hide an existing eating disorder.

What makes me think this? Well for one, I can tell just by looking at the photos…there are a number of you who look like I could easily snap your arm in half between my thumb and forefinger.  Secondly, I’m reading about what you eat in your posts. A fruit for breakfast, a couple of veggies for lunch or dinner, etc. Thirdly, I’m not saying that you do not care about animals, but the truth of it is, if you are eating like this…saving animals is not the first thing on your mind, and neither is your health. Losing weight is your first and foremost goal.

Now everyone is saying, “Well who the hell are you to say anything about what we eat, a**hole?” And maybe you are right. But I do, unfortunately, have experience with eating disorders. I was anorexic/bulimic in my early teens for about four years. I DO know a thing or two about hiding an eating disorder. Making excuses. Not eating a single thing all day. Coming home from school binging on raw cookie dough and ice cream when no one is home, and then locking myself in the bathroom to vomit everything up…promising myself I would never do it again…then starting the whole cycle again the next frickin’ day. And the day after that…and on and on. So I understand eating disorders. And I successfully recovered from my eating disorders by the time I was seventeen.

Deep down, anyone who has an eating disorder knows it. When I started the cycle when I was a kid I had never heard of bulimia…but, I definitely knew there was something not right (physically and mentally) about my habits. I am not a psychiatrist or a doctor, so I am not qualified to give advice. But, I have always maintained that the biggest root cause of an eating disorder is family history (interactions with family members, particularly with parents, etc.). Of course, society does have some influence…the fact that the media portrays skinny women as having the best, most fulfilling lives (it’s a crock, I assure you). The point is, there are many factors involved…I would never presume to pinpoint the exact reason why a girl/woman has an eating disorder. I’d have to get into the family and personal history of the individual, and that I leave up to the professionals.

On the other hand, what I feel I can do, is bring it out in the open that there is an obvious prevalent problem here with girls on vegweb. Some of you are saying, “Yeah, of course, we see that there are many threads on eating disorders…duh, Bunny…everybody knows that.”

But, what nobody is willing to expose or bright to light is the connection between eating disorders and veganism. I think some of you need to reexamine your reasons for being vegan. Is it at all possible that being vegan is just a way for you to hide your UNWILLINGNESS TO EAT? Because veganism (and vegetarianism) offers a reason/excuse to restrict yourself from ALL KINDS OF FOOD. When your friend offers you a cheese sandwich, it’s pretty easy to say, “Well no thanks, I don’t eat dairy.” And when they ask why…it is very convenient to say, “Well I’m a vegan” or better yet “I’m a vegan and I don’t eat animals (or animal products) because I care about them” (or some other convenient vegan answer). So, now, not only have you found a legitimate way to get out of eating, but you are able to provide a positive, compassionate, and (more to the point) reasonably acceptable answer as to why.

Is it possible that maybe some of you don’t even realize you are doing this? Especially those of you who think that you are on the road to recovery through veganism?

I know some of you may just be naturally skinny. My mother was. She was that way all her life. She ate like a bird, and always really wanted to gain weight. But I think there are just way too many of you that are dangerously thin…that some of you are forcing this way of life on yourself.

All I ask is that you ask yourself this question and be honest with yourself….why are you vegan? Is it to lose weight? If so, I hate to say it…you should not be vegan…at least not at this crucial point in your life. Not if your health (or life!) is at stake. Veganism (and vegetarianism) is NOT A DIET. And should definitely not be used as such for someone with an eating disorder. No way! NO WAY! I plead with you to realize this.

I also plead with you to look into why you have an eating disorder. Eating disorders are not just about eating or not eating. You need to find out the reasons why you have an eating disorder. That’s the beginning of the cure. Are you afraid of displeasing your parents? Do you feel it is your only way of receiving attention? Are you dissatisfied/depressed with some other area of your life? I suggest working with a professional to figure this out…though I did not. I had things I really wanted to do in life when I graduated high school and realized that I could never survive out in the real world if I continued the vicious cycle that I was living. I read many books on bulimia/anorexia, figured out the reasons why I was starving/purging myself, and then made the effort TO EAT. Yeah, I overate at first, but then my eating habits balanced out eventually, and I maintained a healthy weight. I also focused on other areas of my life…things that engaged my mind. Going to college and submerging myself in my studies helped a lot. I began to value myself in ways that I never did before.

For those of you who find that maybe you fall into the category of “using veganism to hide or perpetuate an eating disorder,” I really urge you to eat something more than what you do. At this point, some of you just need to EAT. It doesn’t even matter what…just get some meat on your bones. Trust me, you are still going to look beautiful with some weight on. I know all sides of the court—being super thin to being chubby to maintaining an average weight (which is what I’ve been for most of my adult life). Please don’t be fooled--happiness has nothing to do with weight. I want to see you guys glowing from the inside out…radiating health…not bones. 

It doesn’t mean you never need to be vegan. I’m just saying that you might want to sort yourself out first…not worry about restrictions so much (cutting out meat, dairy, etc.). Once you get yourself sorted out mentally and physically, eventually you could always go back to being vegan one day, if you truly care about animals. But right now, that probably shouldn’t be your main concern. From a health standpoint, eating ANYTHING is preferable to eating barely anything at all. Please don’t put your life in danger---it’s not worth it.

Okay, (whew!) I’m done. Hopefully I won’t get railed on for mentioning all this. I really mean well. Maybe you guys can start a dialog about this…and expose this issue even more. Being honest with yourself is a beautiful thing and can only be GOOD. 

Quote:

I have been warned by other adults that RAISING a child to be veg is a risky thing to do as it may lead to an ED but I think that is BS.

Hm, in my opinion (my 2 cents, if you will!) I would think that the opposite would be true. Of course, that only applies to people raising healthy veg kids, so let's disregard people feeding their kids vegan potato chips or nothing but bean water. I think if you raise a child veg*n, you're teaching him/her about nutrition and compassion, which is completely unrelated to the self esteem issues, underlying problems, or other issues associated with an eating disorder. Of course they can coexist, but they're certainly not related, unless a parent were to create fixation issues.

I totally agree. As the mother of a 4 1/2 year old vegan girl, I can say she is headed in a lot better of a direction than I was at her age! She knows a lot about healthy eating, and makes really good choices with food. If I feel "fat" once in a while, I don't share that sentiment with her. She thinks everyone (including me) is beautiful, so I encourage her to continue thinking that way!

Also, I understand the reason for this thread, and I also understand why some people have taken offense. It is such a sensitive subject, and I too feel so sad when I see you BEAUTIFUL girls- really, really beautiful girls- beating yourself up over your bodies. I hope you will find the truth within yourselves to heal, because it IS possible.

0 likes

Everybody here does handle EDs with kid gloves... and yet the same posts are made over and over.  Maybe a more direct post will help someone to see that what is going on is not right, and that what they are doing to themselves requires more help than just what a message board can provide.

0 likes

Laurabs—I have avoided many of the eating disorder threads in the past for various personal reasons (some of which are cropping up right here in this thread), so I did a search on “eating disorders” on vegweb, and see that you indeed bring this issue up in the past. But in reading through some of the posts of that thread, people are dancing around the issue.

Everybody here does handle EDs with kid gloves... and yet the same posts are made over and over.  Maybe a more direct post will help someone to see that what is going on is not right, and that what they are doing to themselves requires more help than just what a message board can provide.

you're right.

this is really tough.

...

I heart SB.

me too!

0 likes

Everybody here does handle EDs with kid gloves... and yet the same posts are made over and over.  Maybe a more direct post will help someone to see that what is going on is not right, and that what they are doing to themselves requires more help than just what a message board can provide.

I agree with this. I think SB and I are on the same page with respect to why it is SO important to speak up. When I was struggling with my ED, I was infuriated as I became thinner and thinner, and the response I got was, "oh, at least you can lose weight."

The idea of needing food and not having it never registered with the people who were supposed to know this stuff. My parents couldn't get it together that there was a problem with someone other than themselves. Once it became clear that they were never, ever going to notice that something was wrong until something was too late, I got the hell out of there.

Once I started realizing what was going on with myself and my ED, I realized that more than anything, I wanted someone to notice that I wasn't okay. I didn't want them to try and fix me, or hover over me, or give me attention. I didn't want them to get upset; I just wanted them to give a s***.

What I took from the post and my sentiments are that a lot of us do see that something isn't okay here, and we care about everyone who's struggling. People with EDs aren't evil, they don't have bad habits, they aren't weak or otherwise damaged.

People with EDs are struggling. All we can do is say we're here, we care, and keep working at recovery.

0 likes

Everybody here does handle EDs with kid gloves... and yet the same posts are made over and over.  Maybe a more direct post will help someone to see that what is going on is not right, and that what they are doing to themselves requires more help than just what a message board can provide.

  My parents couldn't get it together that there was a problem with someone other than themselves. Once it became clear that they were never, ever going to notice that something was wrong until something was too late, I got the hell out of there.

Once I started realizing what was going on with myself and my ED, I realized that more than anything, I wanted someone to notice that I wasn't okay. I didn't want them to try and fix me, or hover over me, or give me attention. I didn't want them to get upset; I just wanted them to give a s***.

What I took from the post and my sentiments are that a lot of us do see that something isn't okay here, and we care about everyone who's struggling. People with EDs aren't evil, they don't have bad habits, they aren't weak or otherwise damaged.

People with EDs are struggling. All we can do is say we're here, we care, and keep working at recovery.

i totally agree. i feel like sometimes the posters are simply looking for support and recognition. i feel like *wearing* your thinness is a cry for someone to notice, to care. unfortunately, while the board may be a safe place, i don't think it will do much if you don't have the changes going on in your real life, w/ the real people around you.

for months last year, i spent time on veggieboards and its specific ED threads, just lurking. it was my way of prepping myself for my hospitalization. i know that if i didnt have that board, i wouldnt  be here today. no one in my life really knew how bad it was, and i realized that no one was going to call me out on it....but i needed that anonymous support, if nothing else.
i have found it safe here, if not so much to explain myself, but just as a like minded community...people are so open, about everything...that i have found it easier to be open, and to face my own ED. and i hope that anyone that is struggling right now, can look at everyone here and see those who have recovered or are currently recovering as inspiration. i know i have.

however, even just this week, i wanted to show some info that was sent to me about diabetes and EDs, and i felt like i didnt want to burden anyone. im not looking for sympathy, but i just want to explain what ive been going thru, w/o being whiney....
i was about to make a post, then i saw this, and decided not to.

maybe this isnt the "correct" forum, but i dont feel like we should be relegating what issue is okay to discuss here or not.

(i know this thread has gone elsewhere than what SB originally posted... i get what she was getting at)

0 likes

Ahhh.  let me clarify, Yabbit.  I work in the fashion industry...  We have events where we spend thousands on food that no one eats.  I normally bring my own food, prepared by me, everyday.  I just think i have trust issues with anything that is prepared by, well, not me.
SB/ All:  I think this is a tough subject & we take it personal, because it is.  It may feel like an attack, but no names were mentioned.  Some may respond as in personally attacked because it's something you may feel guilt about (which is why i mentioned my own demons).
I think this is a great place to meet like-minded people & support each other in any way we need, no matter what our reason for being here is. 
I truly believe this wasn't intended to blow up as it did...  For what it's worth?  I totally reflected for a hot minute...  It's good to take a look at yourself & the world you live sometimes.

Thanks M

Oops Luda...didn't realise. I thought when you mentioned working, catering and chefs that you were in the kitchen, not out front in the event. Sorry.

0 likes

Hi all....
I just got a voice mail from SB...who I have to say sounded very very teary, distressed and upset about not being able to reply to this thread she started....that her internet connection is out due to some high winds last night and that.....well....
DUH!......just saw that she posted.....guess her internet is now working.....not gonna delete this....I guess she spoke and said what she had to say.....oops!

I'm sorry Dave! When I FINALLY got a connection I was so worried that I would lose it again, I rushed fast and furiously to write what I did and post it here! I'm sorry I didn't get a chance to let you know beforehand! Thanks for attempting to let everyone know my situation in any case.  :) I'm still having connectivity troubles here and there.

I heart all of you too! Ashley and Laura--no problem! The more I thought about it, the more I could understand why someone might take immediate offense...I think when I post something...people see the name ShaolinBunny and it tends to be synonymous with confrontation because of my history of posts. And maybe I should learn to convey my compassion more in my writing. I'm learning. :)

0 likes

your heart was in the right place, my dear! we love you for that. thank you for showing your concern and trying to get straight with things after the fact.

:-*

0 likes

As in any generalization, there's  going to be SOME people who will use veganism as a means to reinforce the thought process of their eating disorder.  However, I think the overwhelming majority of people who are eating a vegan or vegetarian diet do so because of the health benefits and because they love animals.  No matter what kind of diet a person is eating, if the disorder is strong enough, they will undoubtedly restrict or increase calories accordingly.  My sister battled anorexia for over a year, had lost a significant amount of weight, and was getting precariously close to being hospitalized.  When she became a vegetarian, she gained back nearly 20 pounds and never looked back.  I've known quite a few people over the years who were vegetarians and I honestly have never known one to be overweight, although there will be exceptions in that too.  And yes, I would hear the usual, "doesn't she or he look sickly? God, they are so thin!"  Let's face it, when you eat a vegetarian or vegan diet, it's probably going to be low in fat, high in fiber, and relatively low in calories.  If you already have a fast metabolism, you're probably going to lose some weight before your body stabilizes.  So, my point is this- a lot of the people on this website may appear very thin but I would think most are in good health, have a low percentage of body fat and are proud of themselves for not eating meat.  An eating disorder isn't about WHAT kind of foods are involved. It's about WHY are they consuming or depriving themselves of those foods.

0 likes

I can most definitely see where one would take offense to being called on their veganism as hiding disordered eating habits. I was, and to an extent still am, one of them. At that point in time I was purging close to 14 times a day, and just about to become inpatient at the psych ward in my local hospital. I was afraid and alone and looking for a way to gain even the slightest bit of control on my life- then I found out about veganism, read a lot on the topic, and chose to adopt it in hopes of solving my bingeing problem. The doctors were furious, but for the first time in years I felt comfortable eating. Gradually I grew comfortable eating heavier foods, but I was not being reasonable with my intake and ended up extremely ill, dizzy and anemic. Due to the demands of the physicians I gave up my veganism but clung to vegetarianism like a lifeline.
But just about a month ago I was talking about veganism with some of the students in one of the lectures that I was attending and realized that "the doctor forced me to stop being a vegan" was not cutting it as an excuse to give up on something so ethically relevant to me.
I still have a fair deal of bad days, but I have to say that this is my own fault with my approach to veganism. This time things are different, and I am trying adamantly to keep my choice and ethical one- not one that is a dietary restriction.
I didn't believe that pausing on the vegan train would ever help me get better, but to those of you out there also suffering from EDs, know that it is not forever.
I hope that this helps even a little bit.

0 likes

when i first thought i went vegan ( just eating no meat or dairy) i did it to lose weight as a "diet" so i know where your coming from... people would always say, "so u do it for the animals?" and i would say, "no because it's healthier"...i was anorexic at the time... i now follow a vegan diet for the animals and it's the real deal (no animal bi products at all)... i have had an eating disorder forever and at this point it is not the reason i am vegan... i b/p... when i was heavier yes to lose weighti was vegan... but now i am skinny and that is not why i do it... i think it is really stupid to label most vegans as having an eating disorder... it is a healthier way to live... period ...end of story and i am disgusted u feel the need to slam vegans and write a book about something like that... i am really offended because yes i have an eating disorder but it is not the reason i am vegan!

0 likes

wow the more i read (on page 2) this is really mean :( talking to others who have suffered has already helped me immensely... i am saddened people who haven't dealt with this have so much negative things to say about people who are already living in a hellish world... i am saddened i wish others would be more supportive instead of slamming all of us

0 likes

I realize this threat was dead and gone, but i felt the need to reply and at the time, did not notice the date. I am leaving my comment up though

----------
A lot of ideas on what to post came to mind, so I dunno maybe this won't make any sense. I figured I would just share my story on why I choose to be vegan, why I did it. And any other thoughts that just seem to bug me. I dunno...

I thought about becoming vegetarian for a long time, veganism was something i thought i wasn't strong enough for. And I will admit, I did it because I thought vegetarians were beautiful.Vegetarians in general (most of them) look healthy to me. It was also connected to a religious belief. I also was becoming too aware of how my food got to my plate. How the animals were murdered, how they were treated. For a very long time i tried to tell myself it was okay, but I couldn't do it anymore. The more I ate meat, the more disgusted I felt, sluggish and not at all healthy. I will be honest, I wanted to become veg to lose weight. But it was by no means a "diet" It was my choice to change my lifestyle. But again, I did want to lose weight from it.
I will also admit, I suffer from a what appears to be a more common eating disorder these days: not knowing when to stop. To put it simplely I lack the knowledge of when to stop, my stomach does not give me a full feeling, my brain doesn't give me a trigger. I have to be very aware of how much I eat, limiting or excluding quick fixes in my house. Maybe I'm pathetic, I dunno, but I'm always learning how to help myself. I have a calorie calculating program, but I use it for more then one reason, on one hand, I want to make sure I'm eating enough food on my vegan path, making sure I get enough of the vitamins and minerals I should be. I also use it to make sure I'm not eating too much. I am 5ft7inch 258lbs, I can eat 2300 calories a day and maintain weight, I can eat 1200 calories and be healthy and somewhat rapidly lose weight, or I can eat 1500 and lose weight but not as fast. I usually eat somewhere between 1200-1500. I always make sure to get 1200 calories, anything below that is not healthy for my body type (most people in general). With that being said I don't torture myself always counting the calories, anymore. It was an unhealthy obsession. I realize that.

With all that being said, thats just my story.  Heres my opinion: seeing people talking about their eds does not upset me, I have even posted my own story on one board incase it helps anyone. If they're bragging about their eating disorders I can understand the anger. From what I've seen most of "these people" who post about their problems want nothing more then to know they're not alone. They need support, and compassion. I understand why this post was started, and I commend the person for doing it. I realize their intentions were good. I don't think everyones intentions were pure. However my opinion is this: just like a smoker, no matter how many times you tell them its wrong, its bad, or they shouldn't do it. They won't help themselves until they want to. Period. Admitting you have a problem is the first step in anything, and if I can help anyone give themselves courage to go seek the professional help they need, then damnit I will do it.

Say you go to a dinner, the guy next to you is a eating a disgustingly fat dripping hamburger. No matter how much you are sickened,disgusted, or want to say something. You know you can't (well maybe you do but thats another story). Why should lashing out at people because of their problems be any different. If you don't like it, just ignore it. As hard as it is.

Thats as much as I'm going to say. Those might just be my opinions. I am a compassionate person, even when I used to eat meat. I feel compassion for all living things, animals and humans alike. I feel like others need to learn the same.

0 likes

wow the more i read (on page 2) this is really mean :( talking to others who have suffered has already helped me immensely... i am saddened people who haven't dealt with this have so much negative things to say about people who are already living in a hellish world... i am saddened i wish others would be more supportive instead of slamming all of us

The person who started this thread in 2007 and most of the repliers don't even post here anymore.

0 likes

oh good because i thought a lot of this was really mean... we all have our problems and i have found the ED thread helpful for my recovery... many girls suffer from this and it is unfortunate i think being kind and supportive get's a lot more done than what this person did

0 likes

One of the difficulties with so many new boards is that necrothreads are everywhere, so you think an old VWer has returned until you look at the date; or threads and posts prior to the Great Meltdown of 2007 (a time of great negativity) resurface and may put new users off.

0 likes

I found that pretty confrontational too, although I understand the frustration people can experience who either live with an ED or know someone who does. I have VERY little experience with this issue, but do know and care about people who live with EDs. It's intimidating trying to figure out how I can be supportive (or at least, how I can avoid anything triggering or anything else that contributes to negative thoughts or feelings). I guess it's different with everyone and once you're able to talk about it, each person will let you know what they prefer (or need, don't want etc). I think the most important thing for me is recognizing that people ARE NOT their eating disorders; the ED is its own thing separate from who the person is. Although I have never struggled with an eating disorder myself, I feel that keeping this in mind is the most helpful and healthiest way to deal when I know someone I care about is going through stuff.

/end ramble

0 likes

I also wanted to add that EDs are certainly not limited to women. The boys (and everyone else) out there who have them need as much support as the girls do!

0 likes

Yeah, yg.  When I opened the thread yesterday, la's thread was on top.  It was bittersweet.  I miss her.

The point of multiple boards is to allow people to discuss something in one place and it staying there.  Dragging food fight threads to other boards defeats the purpose of a specific place to put the contentious threads without infecting the rest of the forum.  The reason we ended up with multiple boards in the first place was so people could steer clear of the News & Debate / Food Fight threads while they navigated the rest of the board.

Oprah has said a few things that I really like.  One is people do what works for them until it doesn't work anymore and then they do something else.  For eating disorders, 50% of people recover, 40% of people don't, and 10% of people die.  Each person with a disorder/addiction/etc. will perpetuate their dysfunction until it doesn't work for them anymore.

0 likes

I do remember all to well that quote, about how people keep with a habit until it stops working for them. While I see how this thread is highly confrontational, it is also very important for us, both ED plagued, and those who have not experienced an ED to bring it to the front. A year or so ago I would have been livid to read this. But now I am a little more calm. I just hope that everyone can know that this is not an attack. This is a form of consciousness raising, so that we can protect and save those around us where we might not have previously looked.
+huggles+

0 likes

Pages

Log in or register to post comments