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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. 

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!

True.  We have a male posting here a few years back that had an ED.  A teen living at home.  Wonder what happened to him?  

Then we had the guy that lost over 200 lbs and went the other extreme into starvation and overexercising..  

I too get bothered sometimes when someone with an ED doesn't see it and seeks validation here.  

Food....interesting.

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