The most recent issue of VegNews is their annual food issue. For those of you not familiar with the world of veganism, VegNews is a large publication that is devoted to veganism, vegan food and vegan hot topics. Normally, I totally dread the food issue because it’s pretty much 100% vegan food porn. Tons of pictures of vegan desserts, snacks and entrees of all persuasions with one ad after another for food, food, food. The vegan blogosphere is pretty heavy on the vegan food porn blogs, with some noteable exceptions like Natala Constantine at Vegan Hope. Although I completely understand this, I can’t participate in the entire vegan food worship scene without triggering my addiction and inviting the Wicked Stepmother over for some vegan candied apples. Although she would just love to slip some poisoned ones in there just to teach me a lesson…
In the midst of various pictures of cupcakes, there was a great and unexpected article by Victoria Moran about food addiction. Victoria Moran is the author of many different books, and one of my favorites is called The Love Powered Diet (and it’s not a diet book). I like it so much that I am going to devote a whole separate entry to it! She is a recovering food addict and compulsive eater, and she also happens to be a dedicated vegan. Before I stumbled across Victoria Moran’s work, I really didn’t know of any other people trying to incorporate 12 step recovery into a vegan lifestyle. I don’t like to say diet because I don’t do diets and because veganism is my lifestyle: it impacts not only what I eat, but what I wear, what cosmetics and body care products I use, what companies I support, what entertainment I choose to view and so much more. Today I choose a compassionate life, and I try not to abuse other people or animals—and that also includes myself.
I was so happy to see an article about food addiction in a major vegan publication. So many times, vegan and vegetarian diets are associated with eating disorders, as many who restrict or binge & purge use vegan diets as a way to easily shrink their acceptable food choices and further control our food. However, I will also say that I reached my highest adult weight as a vegan. There’s so much ridiculously good vegan junk food and dessert out there these days. Vegan food ain’t what it used to be.
In the 90’s when I first tried to become vegan, it was a struggle to find a veggie burger. At the time, there was pretty much Gardenburger and that was it. I ate a lot of salad, hummus, lentils, Gardenburgers, Vitasoy Vanilla Delite soy milk, Tofutti, french fries, falafel and avocado. I wasn’t eating very much fresh fruit, unless you count the apple I would use as a bong to smoke weed out of at work! I also wasn’t eating a lot of whole grains and I definitely wasn’t eating kale, collard greens and broccoli. I constantly felt starved and deprived. I was drinking a LOT at the time, so dinner was pretty much beer (at least a 12 pack) and lots of bong hits. After a few months of this, I lost quite a bit of weight (which shocks me in retrospect). I struggled intensely with food cravings, especially for cheese. Eventually I would relapse, usually while drunk, and it was always on cheese or cheese containing junk food. I felt ashamed and I felt like a failure. Other vegan friends would berate me for having no willpower. I had people tell me that I didn’t care about the animals and I was just as much of a murderer as other omnivores. Finally, I just gave up and went back to being a cheese eating, occasional omelet eating vegetarian, which went on for years. Eventually, I became so desperate to try to control my eating and my weight that I went back to eating meat for a few years. In the back of my head, it never felt right.
I didn’t fully give up the ideal of veganism, though. Periodically I would try, and eventually I would relapse on some sort of dairy product. As more and more vegan products became available on the market, I was able to replace certain beloved dairy foods with a vegan equivalent. A trip to California in 2009 rekindled the fire. A friend dragged me to Cafe Gratitude, and although I wanted to hate the food, I loved it. I had this delicious, amazing rice bowl and I remember thinking, “why did I ever stop eating this way?”. When I came back to Vegas, I decided to try to be vegan again.
And I started to gain weight like crazy. Every little sick eating disordered part of me screamed at me to go back to eating meat because being vegan was the reason I was fat. I was determined to find another way and be able to eat vegan and attain a healthy weight while working on my recovery. It took a few years of stumbling and confusion, but I found my way. I had to make several painful realizations. I could be vegan and be healthy, but I couldn’t do it while living on vegan junk food. I couldn’t leave my meals to chance and just wander through life without a plan, either. And I couldn’t stay away from old, dairy-filled binge foods or new vegan junk food without help. I was still engaging in crazy diet behavior and eating disorder/compulsive exercise behavior. So I came back to OA, asked for help and started working with a sponsor again. A lot of that was thanks to Victoria Moran’s books. So if you are struggling, please check her out. Even if a vegan lifestyle is not for you, her wise words can help anyone who wants to get into recovery from an eating disorder. I kind of think of her as my E.D. Fairy Godmother—the anti-Wicked Stepmother!