Is it possible to eat intuitively as a vegan?
For a long time, I thought vegan intuitive eating was an oxymoron. But now, I’m living proof that the opposite is true. I’m a plant-based eater and an intuitive eater, and my relationship with food has never been better.
As someone who comes from a history of disordered eating, I was attracted to the vegan message because it seemed like a very abundant way to live. Most of the vegan people I saw online ate huge portions of fruits and vegetables and still managed to say slim. Who wouldn’t be attracted to that?
But as I transitioned to eating plant-based and I became more engrossed in the online vegan community, I was influenced by vegans who promoted more restrictions on top of the elimination of animal products from my diet.
Unfortunately, there are many vegan personalities online that promote highly restrictive vegan diets. People who follow their advice are likely to eventually stop being vegan, or worse, develop serious problems in their relationships with food.
You can be vegan AND enjoy food, be satisfied by what you eat, and have a healthy relationship with your body. Veganism and intuitive eating are not mutually exclusive.
Looking for body peace?
I’m sharing my best tips for healing your body image.
How To Practice Vegan Intuitive Eating
Here are my top tips for successfully merging these lifestyles.
Determine Your Motivation
Why do you want to be vegan in the first place?
Is it to help the environment? To be healthier? To protect animals?
Or is it because you’re afraid of non-vegan food? Or because you’re hoping a plant-based diet will help you lose weight?
Here’s the truth: the vegan diet is inherently restrictive. This means that going vegan requires eliminating certain foods from your diet.
If you’re familiar with the principles of intuitive eating, you know it’s all about freedom from restrictive food rules and giving yourself full permission to eat whatever you want. This might make you think you couldn’t possibly eat intuitively as a vegan. But it entirely depends on what your motivation is for not eating certain foods.
The truth is, most vegans don’t really think of animal products as food.
If your sole reason for going vegan is to lose weight or to change the appearance of your body, it’ll be difficult to eat intuitively because you’ll be in a mindset that’s fixated on restriction. If instead, you have a deeper core motivation for going plant-based, you’re far more likely to focus on the benefits of your lifestyle, and you probably won’t feel restricted at all. You’ll also be much more likely to stay vegan long-term.
When you first transition to a vegan diet, there’s a period of adjustment that takes place, and it’s likely that you’ll experience cravings for non-vegan food. A motivation based on something bigger than yourself will help get you through this transitory phase.
Because going vegan does involve some restriction, it’s inadvisable to go vegan when you have an eating disorder or when you’re struggling in your relationship with food. Regardless of your motivation, it’s important to take the steps to heal before diving into the vegan lifestyle because you could end up doing more damage to your health in the long run.
The value of a human person is greater than the value of an animal. You should never sacrifice or jeopardize your own physical or mental health for the sake of veganism.
Ideally, you’ll become an intuitive eater before you go vegan. That way, you’ll be able to experience the true abundance that all those vegan influencers talk about. But if you’re already vegan and you’re interested in vegan intuitive eating, now is as good a time as any to revisit the foundations of your lifestyle.
Forget About All Extra Restrictions
Vegan intuitive eating is about freedom.
There are all sorts of different vegan diets floating around on the internet. Some vegans promote low-fat or even no-fat diets. Some vegans say you should only eat whole foods and nothing processed. Other vegans say you shouldn’t even cook your food, and some say you should never eat oil, salt, or processed sugar.
If you pile all of these rules on top of a vegan diet, I can pretty much guarantee you’ll be entirely unhappy and unsatisfied. Not to mention, these rules aren’t based on any real nutritional science.
The best way to maintain your freedom around food is to forget about the unnecessary diet rules and restrictions. Instead, focus on listening to your body and providing what it needs.
Focus On Eating Foods That Satisfy
When you’re getting hungry, how do you decide what to eat?
If you’re a chronic dieter like I used to be, you probably reach for the option that seems like it’s the healthiest or has the fewest amount of calories.
For a vegan lifestyle to be sustainable, you have to eat enough calories. You’re unlikely to stay vegan if you feel miserable while you’re doing it. That’s why it’s so important to focus on eating foods that taste good and are satisfying.
Otherwise, veganism becomes the equivalent of any other diet. And just like any other diet, you’ll be likely to “fall off the bandwagon” when you reach the limit of your self-control, beat yourself up for “failing,” and continue restricting, beginning the cycle all over again.
I encourage you to use veganism as a way to take better care of your body rather than to punish it. There are so many benefits to the vegan lifestyle, and you’ll be sure to continue receiving them for years to come if you practice vegan intuitive eating.
Being a vegan intuitive eater is more than just possible – it’s the best way to stay vegan long-term. By paying attention to your motivations, ditching unnecessary restrictions, and learning to listen to your body, you’ll be setting yourself up for a healthy relationship with food, your body, and the planet as a whole.