It has been 2 months since I decided to switch to a vegan diet and to be honest, it’s not the cost or lack of dessert that’s been tough. The hardest part has been the mental battle.
About 2 weeks ago, I was at work when I pulled out my lunch from my bag & the woman across from me looked at it and said, “wow, what a big lunch!”. I remember my face flushing instantly. I started to defend myself, “oh, I haven’t eaten all day (lie) and probably won’t eat afterwards (also a lie)”.
Reflecting on this moment, it makes me sad to think that I felt like I needed to defend myself because of someone else’s judgement. I know that a couple of years ago, this comment would have sent me spiralling but I am starting to realize that I am “allowed” to eat as much of whatever I want, vegan or not.
A big change that has come with changing to a vegan diet has been the amount of food I need to eat to stay full. My portions are bigger and I have to eat more often. Overall, this noticeable shift has caused quite a bit of anxiety. I was worried that it would cause me to return to my disordered eating habits, but thankfully, it hasn’t. Instead, it has proved to me that, for the most part, I am in a healthier place where someone’s passing comments do not have a lasting impact on me.
In general, being vegan has been amazing. I eat way more fruits and veggies, my skin is clearer, I feel less bloated, and more energized overall. My goal was not to lose weight and so far, I haven’t (I consider that a success because not losing weight is cool too!!). I eat about 1.5x the portion size that I would eat previously and have lots of snacks throughout the day. I am a big dessert person and this can be a bit tricker to satisfy as a vegan so I make sure to have treats ready for me at home or plan visits to vegan bakeries (like Almond Butterfly). This helps me avoid feeling like I’m depriving myself and allows me to have a positive relationship with food in this new life style.
This change has definitely challenged my relationship with food a lot. I am learning to accept that the most important part of eating is listening to my body and what it needs, without judgement. Food is a crucial part of self-care and just as much as colouring and bubble baths, I am allowed to eat whatever, whenever and as much as I want.
Yes, I am saying all of this and doing my best to commit myself to it (one of the reasons why I am posting this), but I also want to remind you that the simple act of eating can be incredibly stressful. I do not blame my co-worker for what she said, it was my own insecurities that made it a big deal, but I think it is important to be aware that this daily routine can actually be quite triggering and anxiety inducing for some. As best as you can, please be mindful of what you say and as Ellen Degeneres says, be kind to one another.