Today’s post is not a recipe, nor doesn’t contain pictures, so please feel free to skip if you are here for the shiny! Sometimes I feel compelled to discuss the not-so-shiny, but I absolutely understand if that’s a downer and you’d rather indulge in food porn. 🙂
So, I’ve decided to take what is essentially my “why vegan” page out of the vault again. It used to be my uber lengthy “about” page, but I had gotten it into my head that no-one wants to read a wall of text (unless broken up with pretty food pictures?), and that my life was about more than just overcoming obesity and becoming vegan. There have been a number of posts of late, however, on the blogosphere and on places where I mull over my breakfast, such as Reddit’s vegan forum, where people have been complaining that they “tried” veganism and it failed them and their health. Fair enough, each person is different, but it did and does make me fundamentally sad.
I’ve taken this page of out decommission despite my primary reason for being vegan being ethically-based. I lost a ton of weight going vegetarian and then vegan, but the ethical concerns are of greater importance to me than my pants size. Nevertheless, it seems that diet, losing weight, and being healthy are important to people, and that non-vegans look to that rather than the vegan ethical perspective, which is completely legitimate as well, and hence the re-commissioning.
That being said, I have had a growing number of people turn to me to ask for nutritional advice, and about how they can incorporate healthy changes in their diet to combat disease, and generally improve their well-being. This is a massive change from everyone squawking about how I was going to starve to death when I first became a vegetarian, so I really feel blessed that, veganism aside, people actually think I can take care of myself. A lot of people may be thinking, durr, but once you’ve been obese it’s clear that there is a point at which you can actively sabotage yourself and your health.
There are many wonderful resources that deal with stories about people who have recovered from Eating Disorders through a plant-based diet. Like them, a plant-based + vegan lifestyle has not only helped me reconsider my food choices, but has helped me to overcome an ED by thinking about more than myself the whole time and my own image; to rather consider the source of different food and to look at food as a wonderful, positive element of life that nourishes rather than destroys.
When I was a binge eater I would eat in secret all the time; making pit-stops at different junk food shops along the way home, such as a McDonalds, then a newspaper stand for some chocolate, then a supermarket for some other “normal” goods, such as bread and more chocolate. I often had to lie down for a while after binge eating, and the second I felt “better” I would snack myself back to my next meal, which was usually just as unhealthy. My motto was that if no-one saw, it was ok. I still hated my choices and what I was doing, but if it was just me then it wasn’t hurting anyone.
Except it did – it hurt my relationships with others, and potential relationships. Not many people are accepting of obesity, because they think it’s gross, or that the person doesn’t have self-control or sufficient motivation to “do something” about it, and as a result they treat obese people very differently. I find people are so much friendlier now that I can blend into the background than when I was obese, where they often made a point of telling me how disgusting I was, even if I was a complete stranger. Of course, now I’m at the other end of the spectrum, where family and long-term friends go on about how skinny I’ve gotten, even though I am perfectly within my normal range. I may appear skeletal to them, but to someone who’s never met me before, doesn’t know my past, I’m just average. How great is that?
I hate to break it to those people, but telling me I’m too skinny is a trigger – it doesn’t make me glow or preen; it makes me nervous and self-conscious, because any sentence that starts with “you’re too…” just means I’m not out of the line of fire; people still feel they have the right to comment on me as a person and as an object. Often it’s done out of love, concern, even sometimes admiration, but I’d love people to rather say “you’re healthy” instead. Again, this is why I’m psyched when people see past the scary “vegan” aspect (well, scary for some omnis!) and consider that the most simple changes can make a fundamental difference in anyone’s life.
To go from being pre-diabetic, and being told that I was destroying myself and my health to where I am now where a check-up at the doctor is just a question of ticking off the boxes is beyond incredible. I’m not a medical professional in any way, but I love using this blog to showcase and share my meals and creations because a) I’m consistently eating in public, essentially (which is big!), and b) my food isn’t so scary or difficult, so anyone who feels like their diet is getting them down can consider a lifestyle change rather than crash diets which leave them miserable.
A number of people I’ve read about who have transitioned back from plant-based to omni or pescatarian seem to have gone on some pretty weird tangents in their diet, so it doesn’t surprise me to discover they feel dissatisfied. Completely cutting out grains/gluten-free alternatives, legumes, whatever – essentially any branch of the vegan tree – is going to mess with the body. There is no trick to what I did and do to be vegan and/or healthy – I just cut down portions and changed what I ate; if I eat bread it’s wholegrain, rye, or homemade. If I eat pasta it is not refined and is considered a treat. If there’s cheese in the house it’s because I made it, and so I use it sparingly, not as a base for everything else. Chocolate? Yes please, but hold the sugar.
What is clear is that there is a process to anything, whether it’s getting healthy or staying there. I’m not done learning or changing my tastebuds. Lots of people go “Ew” or pull confused faces when they taste vegan food for the first time (and in my sphere of people that’s totally my fault for still being a novice), but it should be clear that on this blog, it’s not about vegan food equalling being restrictive, but rather healthy food that just so happens to be ethically made and considered. That last part is my starting point, but I don’t mind if someone starts at “yum” and ends up thinking about their dish afterwards.
Phew! That being said, my next big project is going to be tackling and veganizing the mysterious Malva Pudding that Man-thing loves so dearly, because I want him to believe that veganism doesn’t mean the end of all things!