When Going Vegan in ED Recovery Is Helpful—And When It's Not

Is going vegan in eating disorder recovery right for you? Find out how going vegan in ED recovery can help or hurt your healing at HealthyPlace.

Going vegan in eating disorder (ED) recovery can be helpful—or a detriment--depending on the mindset of each individual and the factors of his or her environment. There are many reasons people choose the vegan lifestyle, running the gamut from nutrition to ethics, and veganism as a standalone practice neither heals nor causes an eating disorder. So taking into account all the different variables and nuances at play, whether going vegan in ED recovery will be helpful—or harmful—is contingent on your motives for adopting a vegan diet or lifestyle, and how it manifests in your eating habits.

Why Some People Go Vegan in Eating Disorder Recovery

When learning how to moderate the desire for healthy, nutrient-dense foods with a mindful, non-restrictive or non-ritualistic approach to eating, many ED survivors turn to veganism as the source of balance they were lacking. Consuming plant-based meals with natural, less caloric and fewer heavy ingredients often makes larger portion sizes feel manageable—and even permissible—for those who are not yet accustomed to nourishing themselves properly.

Veganism can also teach people in recovery the discipline of intuitive eating because it rejects the idea of a short-term "diet" and introduces the concept of nutrition as a consistent lifestyle practice. This can encourage a positive relationship with healthy, wholesome foods that come straight from nature like vegetables, fruits, raw nuts, legumes and sprouted grains. When used to restore wellness, self-care and functionality, going vegan is helpful in ED recovery—but there's also a darker side which needs to be addressed.   

When Going Vegan Causes Harm in Eating Disorder Recovery

Veganism becomes dangerous when people abuse the plant-based movement by using it as just an excuse to condone their questionable eating habits. Some vegans attach a moral high-ground to their lifestyle choice which can be problematic for those in ED recovery who are susceptible to critiquing foods through a lens of "good versus bad." While many people's decision to forego animal products is both genuine and ethical, ED survivors will often perpetuate their fear-based "food rituals" under the guise of veganism.     

If you are considering going vegan in ED recovery, it's a smart idea to check your motives first. What is urging you to make the transition? Are you prompted by concern for animals and the environment? Are you looking for a justification to continue eating disorder behaviors? It's not inherently wrong to abstain from meat, eggs or dairy—nor is it wrong to consume these without experiencing guilt afterward. The deciding factor comes down to preference and intent. Whether you choose going vegan or being an omnivore, make sure to prioritize healing, nurture well-being and fuel the body's needs. That is the real indication of what's helpful in ED recovery.

APA Reference
Schurrer, M. (2018, June 6). When Going Vegan in ED Recovery Is Helpful—And When It's Not, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, May 25 from

Author: Mary-Elizabeth Schurrer

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