Whether it’s for “health” reasons or weight loss, I often see people turning to a vegan lifestyle for reasons other than ethical ones (thanks, diet culture). And it makes sense.
I mean, I don’t know about you but I commonly see social media posts by “plant based babes” spruiking the “health” benefits of veganism, using words such as “lean and clean”.
While eating plant based foods can afford health benefits, including improved function of different physiological systems in our body, it should not be mistaken as a quick fix way to achieve unattainable body shapes and sizes or “health”. When I work with vegan clients, my philosophy promotes flexible eating without diet mentality through incorporation of Intuitive Eating principles.
You might be thinking how? Especially when veganism is about removing foods whereas Intuitive Eating principles are about allowing all foods into your life? In this blog I will explain how Intuitive Eating principles can be incorporated in Veganism without the diet mentality.
Focussing on what is available rather than focussing on what isn’t available is important in helping avoid disordered eating patterns.
Veganism doesn’t have to mean restrictions
The Intuitive Eating principle ‘Make Peace With Food‘ is about how to avoid deprivation by not restricting foods. To incorporate this principle into veganism, I work with clients to focus on the wide variety and abundance of plant-based foods that are available on the market.
Together we explore the different types of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, and plant-based alternative foods that are available and how to incorporate them into meals.
We know that restriction and deprivation are associated with eating past the point of comfortable fullness. Focussing on what is available rather than focussing on what isn’t available is important in helping to avoid disordered eating patterns and continue a healthy relationship with food.
Veganism doesn’t have to mean restrictions
Intuitive Eating principles are inherently about giving yourself unconditional permission to allow all foods in your life and getting rid of food rules. Giving yourself permission helps to avoid that feeling of deprivation, which as mentioned earlier, can help to ensure you maintain a healthy relationship with food.
This is where it’s important to differentiate between vegan and plant-based. An ethical vegan lifestyle is based on a set of values that separates animals from food. So, an ethical vegan generally doesn’t view a cow, pig, chicken etc as any different from a dog, cat, horse, etc. This mentality allows for ALL non-animal-based foods to fit within this lifestyle.
This also means you don’t have to give up your favourite fun foods! I love working with my clients to identify the plant-based versions of fun foods they enjoy such as ice cream, chocolate, donuts, burgers, and wine.
I love working with my clients to identify the plant-based versions of fun foods they enjoy such as ice cream, chocolate, donuts, burgers, and wine.
Giving yourself unconditional permission to eat all foods, means you do not need to worry about restricting salt, fat, sugar. If the food is plant-based, there is absolutely no reason to avoid it!
Veganism doesn’t mean perfection
It can be common to feel like you have to get veganism perfect. Sometimes people feel that they have to get Intuitive Eating perfect also! This is not the case. Both of these concepts are about making progress, not perfection.
Having the feeling of perfectionism looming over your head is not helpful and can lead to the “food guilts”. Remember that nothing in this world is perfect, so if you consume something that you were unaware wasn’t vegan, don’t beat yourself up.
Show yourself compassion and kindness and move on.
Understand your motivation for being a vegan
If you find veganism difficult to follow and it causes you to stress, it is important to ask yourself the key question of why did you become a vegan? Was it an ethical reason that aligns with your values? If so, that is going to make your dietary choices much easier.
I saw this question pop up recently from @jennyweinar and have found it to be a great one to get the conversation flowing: “Would you still be vegan if it guaranteed weight gain?”
If the answer is no, then it might be worth exploring what is driving your desire to become vegan.
Following a vegan lifestyle is something deeply personal and can be hard to follow. But with the right support and understanding of your motivation, it can make this lifestyle sustainable.
If you are looking for support with veganism and need some support to make your dietary patterns more sustainable, I would love to connect. You can join Vegan Intuitive Eating – Australia Facebook Group or make an appointment.