So I’ve been vegetarian for years, but last year I went vegan for around 6 months. Why didn’t it last?
On one hand, and most obviously to those around me, it was my eating disorder. For me, bulimia was directly caused by prolonged malnutrition from anorexia. In the most basic terms, excluding any psychological factors, I had starved my body and therefore it wanted me to store food ready for the next famine, so when I did finally give in to my cravings and eat properly, I wanted to eat anything and everything, as quickly as possible.
Therefore, when I embarked on a vegan diet, arguably a restrictive way of eating relative to a traditional western diet, it triggered those same instincts as those early days of recovery. In short, it led to a huge relapse into bulimia.
Controversial though it seems, and perhaps lacking in self-compassion as my therapist might suggest, that is still not a valid excuse. Although of course I needed to take it slow and reel it back in at the time, it doesn’t mean my morals are gone forever. Now more confident and certainly more clued up after nearly a year’s worth of research, i want to take on the challenge again, and review it at the end of December to see how its working alongside, rather than against, my recovery.
One of the biggest things for me was cheese. I never even ate much of the stuff before I made the change to vegan (clearly anorexia is not closely linked with a love of cheese!), but as soon as I made the switch to exclude dairy products, there was nothing I craved more than a big fat block of cheddar, melty mozzarella on pizza, crispy grilled halloumi or fresh feta in a greek salad. I’ve heard countless people, myself included, arguing that “I could go vegan, but I’d miss cheese too much!” This is partly because (as a lot of research suggests) processed cheeses like those mentioned contain chemicals that cause real addiction, and like with cocaine, withdrawal symptoms are real too.
Why is dairy unethical?
1. Humans are the only creatures on earth that drink milk in adulthood, and the only ones to drink the milk of another creature. Not your mum, not your milk. Simple as that.
2. Calves of dairy cows are cruelly ripped away from their mother at birth. Dairy cows are forced to mechanically breastfeed with natural hormone cycles.
4. Many dairy cows and chickens are factory-farmed with very low quality of life and zero time outdoors. They actually develop real mental illnesses and huge behavioural problems.
5. Male chicks are quite literally ground up and killed in their masses as they are of no use to the industry.
And what about health and the environment?
I won’t go into it of course as this is not a food blog nor a science blog, but what I will say is that there is very little evidence that a plant-based diet isn’t the best, easiest and cheapest way to achieve optimum health for the majority of the population, as well as hugely reduced levels of toxic emissions leading to climate change.
For all the Netflix junkies out there, here is a list of some eye-opening documentaries that hammer home this theory. If straight-up horrifying slaughterhouse footage (if you’re more iron-stomached I urge you to watch Earthlings) ain’t your thing, check these out:
Hungry for Change
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (1 & 2)
Forks over Knives
Cowspiracy (my personal favourite)
I’ll leave you with this: “When consuming animals is no longer a necessity, it becomes a choice.”
In today’s world abundant with food choices, with most of us living in a westernised society where is is not necessary for survival to hunt for meat and fish, the only thing keeping us from questioning the status quo is our own choices. Not willpower, not fad diets, not being a hippy, but making informed choices on whether we still want to consume the way we do despite all the evidence that it goes against our morals. And admitting that we, as humans, no longer have the birth right to dismiss all other sentient beings as being on this earth to please our tastebuds.
Ruth @ Urbanity xxx