When we republished “Why I’m Not Vegan Anymore” from TheWholeTara.com, it got our community talking—and we listened. Here is her response.
This piece originally appeared on TheWholeTara.com.
The past week has taken a slight toll on me. I really didn’t expect to receive the kind of response that I did after I wrote Why I’m Not Vegan Anymore, both positive and negative. Many readers took it as an incomplete description of veganism and of their community—and while I can understand why, I think some of my points may have been misunderstood and perhaps taken out of context.
Let me begin by reminding readers that I was 16 years old when I made the decision to become vegan. Most 16-year-old girls can’t even decide what they’re going to have for lunch, let alone what they’re going to eat (or not eat) for the rest of their lives. I had recently graduated high school early and began working towards my degree in nutrition, as well as on my health coaching certification. I watched films like Forks Over Knives and Supersize Me and began to show interest in living a vegan lifestyle. It wasn’t just about social media influences, although it’d be naive to ignore its role in my decision. As a young teenage girl, I looked towards Instagram for inspiration and made decisions driven by social and societal influences. Granted my becoming vegan may have been partially driven by social media influences, but I don’t believe I’m a bad person for listening to my body and allowing it to guide me to where it wants to be in this present moment.
Although my path to and from veganism has been rocky, it has always been backed by facts and was never meant to be a public matter. I hold a BS in Dietetics and Nutrition and have several other holistic certifications. I routinely volunteer and share my love for animals at my local shelter and only choose to eat animal products that are free-range and/or humanely-sourced. I completely understand veganism and the reasons why someone becomes vegan, which go way further than following pretty girls on Instagram. I’m interested in approaching food and diet from a whole perspective—and for me, veganism didn’t work. That’s not to say I’m anti-vegan, by any means.
Similarly, just because I am not completely vegan or plant-based anymore doesn’t mean that I eat five hamburgers a day or that I’ve started drinking whole milk. I still stick to a primarily plant-based diet and only drink non-dairy alternatives like almond, coconut, and cashew milk. I may include an organic free-range egg as part of my breakfast or a piece of wild salmon at dinner to restore my B-vitamins, give me energy, and provide me with the iron I wouldn’t easily be able to extract from plants.
In regards to disordered eating, I will admit myself that veganism is very often the scapegoat for an eating disorder, as it can make it socially acceptable to eat limited types of foods in public. Being vegan didn’t necessarily mean this for me. Between all of the kale, tofu, beans, and almonds I was eating my body still couldn’t find it in me to be satisfied. So what does one do? Overeat. All the time. It only later occurred to me that the reason I felt so prone to binging and overeating had to do with me not getting enough protein for my body. Yes, you can get enough protein as a vegan, and yes, I tried. With the amount of physical activity I put my body through, I needed more.
Being vegan isn’t the enemy. I’m against animal cruelty and do my best to maintain the most humane relationship with animals as possible. The recipes on my website and Instagram still are, and always will be, primarily plant-based. Even if not entirely vegan.
Tara is a recipe developer, nutritionist, and writer at TheWholeTara.com.