Video: Eating Disorders aren’t a choice – my story

I made this video in a response to several recent videos from other vegan YouTubers who are claiming eating disorders are a “choice.” These people are mostly members of the RawTill4 community, which advocates a vegan diet as a cure for pretty much everything under the sun.

YouTubers Julia Boer and Vegan Ava are spreading this dangerous misinformation, but they aren’t the first, and sadly, they probably won’t be the last. (if you must see it, Vegan Ava’s video can be found here: https://youtu.be/eOXPdylYzZs )

As some of you may know, I had a severe anorexia in high school, with my BMI bottoming out around 12. I ‘recovered’ fairly quickly, but as I explain in the video, it took me more than 12 years to fully escape disordered eating patters.

Why I’m speaking about this now

I’ve never shared this information publicly before, because I honestly wasn’t sure if it was helpful.

And because I never went through formal recovery, I wasn’t able to acknowledge my eating disorder history to anyone, in spite of an official diagnosis. It was impossible to hide it from my childhood friends, but I usually just brushed it off by saying I’d been under a lot of stress.

I had a hard time even being honest with myself, which made it easier for me to pretend that my bulimia wasn’t a problem either. Somehow I managed to rationalize two very dangerous and potentially life-threatening conditions through sheer denial…

Sadly, eating disorders are for life, but you can recover

I also want to note that, while I’m in remission, my eating disorder is something I will have to deal with my whole life – just as if it were any other addiction.

Sadly, you can’t just “get over” an eating disorder by returning to normal eating. This is an unfortunate (and dangerous myth).

Re-feeding syndrome, which I mention in the video, is a real condition and can cause heart attacks or worse if people suddenly begin eating normally again (I think mine was mitigated by the fact that when I “recovered” I constantly purged to alleviate the stomach pain and anxiety I experienced from eating).

Eating disorders and the vegan community

One of the reasons I won’t ever be selling a strict diet plan is that I know how harmful they can be. I realize there are people out there who can restrict their calories without developing life-threatening conditions. But I don’t think it’s helpful or necessary.

My experience with anorexia and bulimia made it difficult for me to embrace veganism, because I was afraid of restricting my food choice in any way. I didn’t want to be obsessive, and that was very important to me, because after living with this disorder for more than half my life, I know how easy it is to fall off the wagon.

I am an ethical vegan. I consider health benefits secondary, and I eat what is basically a version of my prior diet (which was healthy, but balanced). I do not aspire to be whole foods plant based (something like the diet advocated by T. Colin Campbell), because any health benefits would be destroyed by the terrible risk of relapsing into my eating disorder.

Learning to love yourself is the best thing you can do

We all need to learn to be kind to our bodies, to appreciate them for the work they do for us every day. That means getting healthy moderate exercise and enjoying the pleasures of a balanced diet.

This is one reason I reject the idea that being vegan should lead to a thin body. A slim body might be the result, but I think making it the goal is dangerous to both body and mind. Obviously, this is based on my personal experience, but having experienced plenty of thin-shaming in my life, I find fat-shaming equally repugnant.

I was inspired to make this video after seeing two truly brave response videos from the Vegan Lass and Tommy’s Discovery Journal
Vegan Lass: “Eating Disorders are not a choice” https://youtu.be/9LJFc3oRDoM
Tommy’s Recovery Journal: “Vegan Ava Response Video on “Eating Disorders Are A Choice?”

Thanks for watching!
Margaret

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