When I first expressed my desire to go vegan, it is unsurprising that the response I received was overwhelmingly negative. I was fifteen and still in the grips of a severe eating disorder that had been a part of my life for the past three years. Whilst I was convinced that my desire to go vegan was entirely unrelated: I'd done the research and was horrified by the ethical and environmental repercussions of animal agriculture; in hindsight, at the time, all of my thoughts and wants were dominated by anorexia.
I did not go fully vegan until I had just turned eighteen, and was largely recovered—having maintained a healthy weight for two years and for the most part regulated my eating habits, I was finally able to convince my mum that I was able to do it in a healthy way. This is not to say I couldn't have put my foot down and insisted upon being vegan earlier—I am sure there are some who would criticise me for not having done so. However, my relationship with food and my family was unstable as it was, and so having done this, I believe, would not have resulted in a lasting change.
I am so grateful for the fact that I waited to recover before turning vegan because, in the same way that I waited until I had recovered to resume engaging in physical activity, it meant that when I did, I could do it in a healthy mindset, which I consider essential for sustainable veganism. Instead of using my veganism as a thinly veiled excuse for restriction, I allowed it to heal my relationship with food and with myself, through its emphasis on abundance, its glorification of eating until full, and encouragement to trust my own body.
Prior to going vegan, I was physically recovered, and mentally... maybe about 70% there. I was not restricting my calories, but I sure as hell did not eat what I wanted when I wanted. I did not fixate upon every flaw I perceived in my body, but I did not like what I saw in the mirror. That has changed. Any guilt I used to feel after eating is a thing of the past and although I do not love my body all the time, I am able to accept it. Echoes of anorexic thoughts still rise in times of extreme stress but I am able to rise above them.
Veganism enabled me to complete the healing of my relationship with food and I do believe it can do the same for others if introduced via a healthy mindset. Because I am vegan, I am happier and healthier than I have ever been, and from the bottom of my heart, I hope anyone reading this article reaches the same point (vegan or not).