Eating vegan means you think about what you eat… a lot.
For one thing, we live in a culture that is not very vegan (if you’re in the US). This means that someone who eats a plant-based diet is endlessly vetting menus, shelves and cabinets for their vegan-ness.
Or, of course, she is thinking up some inventive way to use avocado (bake with it!) or construct the perfect smoothie bowl (use chia seeds!).
The truth is, people are overly focused on food whether they have a specific dietary restriction or not. It’s not just about sustenance and our obvious need to eat, it’s about more than that.
Lifestyle ideals and self actualization are so tied to diet (and exercise, consumerism, spirituality, etc.) that we are all obsessed with whether or not we are doing it right, vegan or not vegan. And we are sure to beat ourselves up if we are doing it wrong, whatever that means. In that case, clearly, we are failures at life.
There was a wonderful article a few months back that captures the author’s aim to reject this moral judgment of diet while still feeling the pull to eat healthfully. The author focuses on feeling discouraged about her weight but many, regardless of body type, feel they have let themselves down if they aren’t, for example, drinking green juices, going for runs, meditating… It’d be comical if it wasn’t so potentially destructive.
Perhaps one of the greatest epidemics these days is judgment – of self and others. Other resulting behaviors are: defensiveness, smugness and insecurity in general.
It’s very understandable that we all head this route – we’re idiots. This has been well documented.
But, to be fair, we’re also overwhelmed with glossy, mostly unattainable images and false ideas about ideals. The standards are too high, the information is too abundant, and the food industry and supply chain is too terrible.
What’s a person to do?
That is what many do – freak out at others and themselves. But maybe it is helpful to acknowledge that we are in this challenging situation and then to question how we can all handle it with more calm.
Can we all hold our health as a priority while steering clear of judgment and obsession?
Can we eat what we want without giving others the side eye or hanging our heads in shame?
Can we speak what we think might be helpful diet advice without expecting others to immediately pick up our habits?
Can we hear the food habits of others without assuming they expect us to conform to theirs?
The answer to all of these questions is: probably not always but maybe sometimes and hopefully more often than not.
And, let us all remember, that while the dinner posted to Instagram tonight might be a bowl full of veggies, everyone knows that sometimes it’s a bag full of french fries.
WANT HELP GETTING STARTED?
Download a vegan grocery list for beginners.