I went vegetarian as soon as I realised it was an option in life to not eat animals. It took me until I was 14 because I was always the kind of kid to just do what I was told. It was never about health or weight for me but because I didn’t like the idea of eating animals. Even though it took me nearly 2 decades to realise the harm of eggs and dairy and go vegan, it was always about the animals. The motto of Edgar’s Mission speaks to me with this – ‘If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others… why wouldn’t we?’
As I continue to work through this Intuitive Eating journey, I realise just how much being vegetarian and then vegan has actually helped me from getting as far into the whole diet world as I could have otherwise. I read so many people’s stories where they talk about going through the whole list, Atkins, low carb, high protein, paleo, gluten-free, vegan, raw etc. For so many, vegan is just another diet. It is true that if you really understand what veganism is, it’s not a diet at all, but it is so often presented that way, even by animal rights activists much of the time, that you can’t blame people for seeing it that way.
The thing is that I did pick up and read about a lot of diets over the years. I even wrote to the Atkins guy after reading his book asking for ways to make it work while not eating animals. I didn’t get a reply. For most of my adult life, the diet of the day required less fruit and at least some meat or it just didn’t work. I couldn’t live with eating animals so I didn’t do it and just figured I’d have to make do.
Don’t get me wrong, I was still conscious of amounts of food and ‘good’ and ‘bad’ foods, etc and still had incorrect ideas about weight and its correlation to health and the importance of keeping it ‘under control’. I still had the ‘diet mentality’ in my thoughts regularly. But I didn’t get as deeply into it all as I would have if there was a strict diet available that lined up with my ethics. I just figured I’d have to sacrifice health and weight because I couldn’t deal with harming animals for my food.
That is until the last few years when the whole ‘plant-based diet’ has been the basis for many of the diets everyone is talking about. Therefore, I went from teetering on the edge of having the diet mentality control my life to diving deep into the hole in the heart of it. I’ve never been interested in going 100% raw which many vegans seem to do at some point. I considered it, but there was no evidence of it being better when you factor in that there are plenty of foods that release more nutrients when cooked. McDougall, on the other hand, got me completely sucked in. There’s a lot of sense to what he says, and I tried to ‘ignore’ the fat shaming and focus on weight as a priority. It didn’t work. It messed with my head.
Thankfully just as I was starting to be sucked right in, that episode of Rise and Resist podcast where Lacy recommended the Intuitive Eating book came into my ears and I haven’t looked back.
Being vegan has brought a lot of wonderful things into my life, including heaps of amazing humans and some wonderful non-humans, like the beautiful calf pictured above (seriously, look into his face and tell me it’s okay to steal his mother’s milk and send him to slaughter!). Protecting me for most of my adult life from the full effects of the diet mentality is another thing to add to the very long list.