Vegetarianism and Veganism During Recovery
This is a topic that I get asked about frequently from clients in recovery from EDs. Vegetarianism and veganism inevitably comes with cutting out certain food groups depending on how strict one decides to be while practicing. Typically vegetarianism means that meat, poultry, and fish are off the table, while veganism excludes all animal products including meat, poultry, fish, dairy, eggs, and honey. So, is this okay during recovery?
If you’re deciding on whether or not to practice vegetarianism or veganism during recovery, it’s imperative to truly focus on why you’re making this decision and if it is right for you. It’s incredibly understanding and admirable to want to practice for animal rights. However, practicing vegetarianism or veganism makes it incredibly easy to restrict foods and feel “in control.” Even if you don’t think that this could happen and have innocent motives, it is possible that the eating disorder can take over since we know that EDs are so deceptive. Not being allowed to have dairy or eggs can become an excuse to skip out on typically challenging foods, such as cake and cookies. Or, continuously having to check nutrition labels for forbidden ingredients can become triggering for even the strongest individual.
If you’re on the fence about this decision, it may be beneficial to consider “why now?” Ask yourself if this is the best decision for you in this moment. Perhaps you need to focus on yourself right now, and worry about animal rights at a later time. And you know what? This is perfectly fine because you are 100% allowed to focus solely on yourself and your recovery. You are worth it.
It’s also helpful to get out of that all-or-nothing mentality. If you’re interested in animal rights, you can still have a voice and make an impact. You can make an influence in the animal rights community by volunteering at local shelters, supporting an animal charity, purchasing more cruelty-free products, or maybe even fostering or adopting a pup! You can even try to have more meatless meals and increase variety of meatless products. Take it as an opportunity to try something new.
When you’re making this decision, remember how significant your recovery is and whether or not this is the right moment. Remember that eating disorders are deceiving. Remember that you are important and worthy of recovery.