Orthorexia and Veganism: Is there a connection?

Concern with healthy eating can sometimes get out of control. In this blog post and accompanying video, I’ll discuss Orthorexia warning signs, and how to avoid becoming isolated, obsessive and even depressed about your diet.

I would like to clarify that Orthorexia affects followers of any eating pattern. Anyone who follows a diet, whether it be Paleo, atkins, the zone, weight watchers, etc., runs the risk of becoming overly preoccupied with “correct adherence” to that diet.

 What is Orthorexia?

Orthorexia is not currently an official eating disorder diagnosis, but most medical professionals recognize orthorexia as an obsession with healthy eating. It also often overlap with other eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia. This is particularly true in the more advanced stages.

The media connects orthorexia to veganism, which is somewhat understandable. Many (although not all) vegans, care about eating healthily. This is particularly true of people who follow a “plant-based diet,” by which I mean they are mostly, if not entirely following a vegan diet for health reasons. People who don’t eat animals for ethical reasons will have an easier time with some of these issues, because while ethical considerations might stop someone from eating animal products, there’s no ethical reason to avoid fat and carbohydrates, etc.


I realize this post may leave some people feeling that their healthy diet is under attack. Many of you may subscribe to patterns of eating that will likely be flagged if you answer these questions honestly. But I believe these are important questions to ask.

Do you spend much of your day thinking about food?

As a vegan it’s normal to spend a little extra time thinking about where to find good food. But aside from ensuring that what your diet is low in processed foods and rich in nutrients, there’s no reason to spend too much time thinking about what you eat.

Constantly ruminating over food is a hallmark of eating disorders, whether anorexia, bulimia, or EDNOS (eating disorders not otherwise specified).

Do you feel guilty, or punish yourself when you slip up?

An occasional treats is just that. There’s nothing wrong with a sweet now and then, and unless you have a serious health condition that prevents you from being to eat fat sugar and salt, they should have a role in your diet.

Is your diet interfering with social activities?

This question is the hardest for vegans to answer. Obviously, going out as a vegan is a little more challenging for vegans, because animal products are found in almost all foods.

Being nervous about eating with other people, is pretty normal especially when you’re new to veganism. You might be worried about finding something without animal products, or how to ask a waiter for what you want at a restaurant.

I think a good question to ask yourself is, if I went to a vegan restaurant, would I be comfortable ordering something off the menu? Would it cause me anxiety to eat vegan food if I didn’t have control over how they prepared it?

If the answer is no, I think you’re in trouble.

A special note on Raw Veganism

I don’t eat raw, but I know many of you may do so. I don’t endorse a raw diet, but I know it works for people. I think the above questions apply equally to raw food eaters – how much time do you spend thinking about food during the day? If you eat cooked food, do you feel guilty? Could you find something to eat at a restaurant? (Could you order a giant green salad with fruit and be ok with the fact that it’s not organic? Or would eating for non-organic for one meal send you over the edge?).

It’s important to maintain a healthy attitude towards food, especially when health is important to you. And if you feel like you’re losing perspective on your diet, please reach out to someone and talk about it with them or contact your medical professional. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and you need to take care of yourself.

Clifton Roberts and The Humane Party of the United States

I first became aware of the US Humane Party after seeing a video from the Onion Knight on YouTube. The host has asked other vegans to raise awareness about the Humane Party and explain why they would or would not vote for them.

As a Canadian, I won’t be voting in the US election. But I do think this is a very important issue in a critical election, so I’ll be sharing my views on the Humane Party and its candidate, Clifton Roberts.

Firstly, if you’re not familiar with the Humane Party, here are the core pillars of the Party’s platform:

  1. Rights for all animals — not just the human kind,
  2. Full realization of an ecosystem-neutral, sustainably prosperous economy
  3. Running and electing only candidates who have committed to humane values both personally and politically
  4. All of the Humane parties’ candidates and leaders are vegan.

Humane Party Candidates

Clifton Roberts, and executive from Intel, is the Humane Party’s nominee for president. Roberts is a vegan who staunchly supports animal rights and to bringing awareness to veganism is a political issue.

Breeze Harper, who has a PhD in Social Science and degrees from a number of prestigious universities, including Harvard and Dartmouth. Harper’s work experience is in the area of diversity and inclusion, and she brings a great deal of that knowledge to the campaign.

Roberts is not a single issue candidate – which is part of the problem

The first criticism many will make of the Humane Party is that they are a single issue party. That is definitely not the case. They have clearly laid out a series of policy proposals on a number of important issues.

Unfortunately, some of these are extremely poorly thought out, in my view. The Humane Party believes in banning all GMOs.. Moreover, in an interview Clifton Roberts indicated he would include synthetic insulin in this ban. This attitude is both poorly informed and ableist.

Roberts argues that people with diabetes should eat a plant-based diet and “research vaccines” – whatever that means. Unfortunately, while a plant-based diet helps people with diabetes, it can’t cure type 1 diabetes. Unlike Type 2 diabetes, which is often triggered by poor diet and controllable with proper nutrition, Type 1 Diabetes is an often genetic, chronic condition. It disturbs me that someone like Roberts doesn’t know (or care?) about this. And I am also concerned about the vaccine comment, as vegans don’t need such a public figure lumping vegans together with the anti-vaxxers.

My view on Banning GMOs:

I see the Humane Party’s position on GMOs as based on fear of the unknown,

Practically every food you buy for consumption by humans is genetically modified. Wild seedless watermelons don’t exist. We’ve modified all foods ever since cultivation.

We call this process artificial selection: we modify the biology of the world to suit our needs all the time. I have no problem with this unless it violates other beings’ right to life.

humane party logoPreserving Democracy is Paramount

I’m enough of a utilitarian I believe in choosing the lesser of two evils (though I don’t believe Hillary is “evil”). The humane party isn’t going to win. Jill Stein isn’t going to win. And Hitler rose to power thanks to a third-party.

People can talk about Abraham Lincoln all they want, but the Republican party rose from the ashes of the Whigs (one of largest parties previously), so I don’t think it’s a legitimate argument. We haven’t had an election in my lifetime where the outcome could be so serious.

I’d like to clarify that while I don’t support the Humane Party at this time, I do think they are a good sign of things to come. Hopefully over the next four years, they will work to gain legitimacy through more thoughtful policy decisions and better publicity. Roberts has said he will run again in four years, and I hope that at that time he will have matured as a candidate.

What Should Vegans Do?

It’s a shame that more vegans haven’t taken Bernie Sanders’ advice to heart and become more involved in politics at the local level. Animal rights is not something that can be imposed from the highest office in the country. It needs to be a grassroots effort, and if vegans want to make changes they MUST become involved in local politics.

But getting down to brass tacks, maybe for you having the perfect candidate is essential. I know many people feel voting their conscience is paramount. But after this evening’s debate, in which Donald Trump refused to commit to accepting the will of the American people, my conscience tells me the most important issue in this election is preserving democracy and avoid having a crazy person running the country.

What does my YouTube channel, ModVegan, mean to me?

Thanks to fellow vegan YouTuber MadBlender, I’ve been tagged to talk about “What YouTube Means to Me.” So in this blog post and the accompanying video, I’ll be talking about what my YouTube channel, ModVegan, means to me.

I never thought I would start a YouTube channel! I’ve enjoyed blogging on and off since 2007 (so, for a while), but video seemed very intimidating. It didn’t seem like a natural fit because I’ve never really been interested in acting or drama. I’ve always enjoyed giving lectures though, and when I figured out that I could basically just talk to people about my opinions on YouTube, it changed everything. The rest is history, but this video will make it much clearer!

1. Why did you start a YouTube channel?

I was watching vegan YouTube and I was starting to get really annoyed/enthusiastic about Eisel Mazard’s channel, a bas le ciel. It was quite thought-provoking for me as a new vegan, and he had comments turned off. So it was really clear that the only way I really could respond was to make my own videos.

2. How has your channel content evolved?

At the beginning I tried to do what I saw other people doing – videos about vegan makeup and foods, etc. Then I realized that just wasn’t me. I’m a diehard nerd, and it was a lot easier to just be myself. If I was going to keep this up long-term, I had to make content that I enjoyed, not just content for others. What is it that they say? “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.” It’s very true!

3. What do you hope to gain from your channel?

I’d like to help grow the vegan community online, and give a voice to what I call “modern vegans” which I feel are underrepresented.

4. What has been the biggest challenge of having a channel?

Nasty comments are not fun, obviously. But I think the biggest challenge is crafting your argument in a way that it is clear to your audience. I really want my content to come across clearly.

5. What has been the greatest reward of having a channel?

Definitely all of the amazing people who I have met! It’s amazing all the great comments I get. And I’ve even had the chance to meet a viewer from halfway around the world in real life! It’s been an amazing experience to meet new people and share with each other.

6. Where do you see your channel in one year?

I hope it will have grown and that it will be helping people find answers to their questions about veganism. I’d also like to start making better videos!  And of course continue to provide new and interesting stories from  vegan news and politics.

Thank you once again everyone for all of your support and encouragement!

I tag:

Carbs are Happiness: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVxJ7YjeQ0LPIGH6TAGwToA/feature

Vegan Sista


Controvertible Snitch


Vegan Youth


Is Ethical Veganism a Religion or Creed?

Should veganism be considered a religion or creed? Being recognized as a religion has many benefits, such as tax exemption.  But there are also drawbacks. Many vegans already belong to other religions, or are otherwise uncomfortable with calling veganism a religion.

Thanks to the efforts of Canadian Animal Rights Lawyer Camille Labchuk, veganism can be considered a creed in some circumstances by the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC).

How the OHRC decides if a belief is a religion or creed

The OHRC uses the following questions to determine the conditions under which veganism can be seen as a creed.

To be seen as a creed, a belief must be:

  • sincerely, freely and deeply held
  • integrally linked to a person’s identity, self-definition and fulfilment
  • a particular and comprehensive, overarching system of belief that governs one’s conduct and practices
  • addresses ultimate questions of human existence, including ideas about life, purpose, death, and the existence or non-existence of a Creator and/or a higher or different order of existence
  • has some connection to an organization or community that professes a shared system of belief

Ethical veganism satisfies many of these criteria, although few vegans would probably argue that veganism answers ultimate questions about human existence.

The Benefits

If veganism is seen as a religion or creed, it will provide certain benefits. Tax emption for vegan organizations would be one. In the US, churches receive tax exempt status without applying to the IRS for said status. Non-profits need to fill out volumes of paperwork and are under constant scrutiny. Churches, on the other hand, rarely lose non-profit status.

In terms of lobbying governments, in the US non-profits need to keep the public informed about their spending and follow other rules that don’t apply to Churches. For example, non-religious non-profits need to file a form 990, which discloses financial information to the IRS and shows potential conflicts of interest and compensation details. Churches don’t have to do this, which blows my mind. Basically, 100% of the money a church takes in can go to the minister, with zero accountability. A Church doesn’t even need to disclose how much money it spends to promote political causes. You can read more about this surprising fact here.

The Drawbacks

Of course, many, if not most vegans are also members of other religions and would have a hard time calling veganism a religion.

Moreover, those of us who are not religious have spent a lot of time assuring people that veganism just makes sense, it’s not some sort of cult. Calling veganism a religion would undermine this argument.

It might also make it more difficult to receive permission to go into schools and discuss plant-based diets. If veganism is a religion, then telling people about the health benefits might be considered proselytizing.

For these reasons, I think it’s better to work through the existing system. More vegan and plant based groups should focus on applying for non-profit status. I do think it makes sense to protect veganism as a creed, as it is a deeply held belief. But I think it’s even more important to work on making veganism the norm.