It has been two months since I have fully embraced a plant based lifestyle again. Long time readers will know and will have read about my journey and ethical dilemmas with it all. I just want to explain today, why I won’t be labelling myself as a vegan and will remain “plant based”.
First of all, let’s recap those of you who don’t know the journey up to this point. When I began this blog two and a half years ago, I ate everything. Every food group – everything. A few close family members were vegetarian and then four of them went fully vegan. I watched the documentary Earthlings which my step sister sent to me (who had gone vegan), and I cried my eyes out the whole way through it and could not watch it in parts. I decided that day to become vegetarian. Even though the film is aimed at being vegan, I wasn’t ready to make such a big change.
Just short of a year down the line of being vegetarian, I watched a documentary called Cowspiracy, which highlighted to me the huge environmental impact of animal agriculture. Being the big Earth loving, modern day hippie that I am, I thought fuck, that is it, I am going vegan. I can’t be responsible for even more of the demise of our beautiful planet. If we don’t look after and heal our Earth, we won’t have anywhere to live, right?
Six months down the line, I felt horrendous. My IBS was terrible, I was exhausted and I felt awful. In correlation to this though, my stress levels were at an all time high with my anxiety issues and having a crazy busy schedule. My blood test results showed low iron and B12, so in a desperate attempt to heal my gut and fatigue, I decided to eat everything again and even embarked on a whole 30 to try and heal it all. Even though my ethics hadn’t changed and I still loved the Earth, animals and wanted to help the environment, I was really suffering and was a little desperate to try anything to make me feel better.
Eight months down the line, although feeling better from working with a fabulous Naturopath who prescribed me different herbs and supplements, I still had all the issues I had when I was vegan, just less severe. I was sent this documentary, Food Choices, by a friend to watch who wasn’t vegan and we didn’t know what it was about either. The J man and I watched it and it highlighted all the reasons to go plant based that I believed in; environment, health, animal welfare etc. That was it, I decided to give plant based another go, it felt right. I knew in my heart that my physical issues were mostly a result from stress and anxiety and past self sabotaging behaviours, and if eating a plant based diet fulfilled me ethically, emotionally, philosophically and politically, and gave me a happy heart, then it made sense to eat that way. Feeling happy and enjoying the way you eat is actually very beneficial to your health.
So why wouldn’t I call myself a Vegan again? I love what Veganism is about and I love many vegans myself. It all comes down, for me personally, to mental health reasons and not wanting to be fully labelled…
Recently, I recognised that I had become a little black and white about my food choices. This was not a healthy mindset, and balance was needed. Although I absolutely love eating “healthy wholefoods” for the taste, the way it makes me feel and how vibrant it makes me feel, I recognised that sometimes there was a little fear behind the choices instead of fully love. I recognised that I would avoid certain foods e.g. gluten containing foods, not purely out of love for myself, but because I was worried about them not “being healthy enough” and the affect they would have on my body, in terms of health (not weight, just want to make that clear!). I know gluten isn’t an animal product, this just highlighted that there was a “good and bad” food mindset apparent at times. I also recognise you can be highly balanced as a Vegan too. For me, I just don’t want to put myself in a box, as it makes me feel mentally restricted and can cause “good v bad” food labels.
I also highly believe that we are all bio individual and we all need different foods and lifestyles to help us thrive in life, and I believe this can change over times as well. Even though someone could be thriving on a fully plant based diet for several years, one day they might really crave and need some fish for example. I also don’t believe being fully plant based or a vegan is right for every person. I believe some people need to eat animal products to feel their best and be able to thrive in life and live their purposes. This is just my view.
I also believe, that we need to eat intuitively and eat what our body calls for and feels best on. I believe our bodies have an innate wisdom to know what we need to eat to feel our best, and we have to listen to whatever that is, plant or animal.
Given these points, labelling myself as a vegan doesn’t feel right at the moment. I would feel constricted into a box that doesn’t allow food freedom, for me personally. I don’t want to have a label that creates anxiety for me when I go out to eat. I want to be able to gratefully enjoy something someone has gone to the effort to make for me, even if it contains eggs or dairy, for example. I also don’t want to worry if something contains honey and not maple syrup. For me personally, the vegan label just doesn’t feel right at this point in my life.
Eating the majority plant based (like 95-98%) and then having an egg every so often or a little feta, feels like my healthy balance at the moment and I think this is OK. I feel like I can still stand by my ethics, beliefs and love of animals by doing this. Some may disagree, and that is OK too. I think we can still help the planet and environment by eating a majority plant based diet.
Maybe one day I will be fully vegan again, maybe not. I am not going to worry about it or let it take up a dominance of thoughts in my mind. I fully believe that mental and emotional freedom is just as important to your health, as what you do physically. Therefore, it is best for me emotionally and mentally to be “plant based”, as opposed to vegan, at this point in my life.
I hope that makes sense and I hope all y’alllll vegans understand where I am coming from. I think if you can go vegan and you are fully mentally, emotionally and psychically thriving, then that is really awesome.
Ultimately, we all have to do what is best for our own emotional, physical, mental and spiritual health and this feels right for me at this point in time.
No questions, just thoughts.