Recently, I have had a few clients who have been insistent upon following a vegan diet during their eating disorder treatment (vegans avoid meat, fish, fowl, dairy, egg products, and honey).
When I hear the word vegan, I get a bit nervous because it doesn’t take much for a vegan diet to morph into disordered eating patterns. More so, when I hear the word vegan and eating disorder in the same sentence, I get especially concerned. Often, I find that those with an eating disorder have eating disordered thoughts wrapped up within their desire to follow this diet for ethical or animal rights reasons. Although I agree that vegan diets can be nutritious if properly planned, I have found that following a vegan diet while trying to recover from an eating disorder can hinder recovery (as certain issues and fears surrounding food are not able to be properly addressed while following this diet). Additionally, I have had some clients come to the realization during treatment that they weren’t vegan for ethical or animal rights reasons at all, but rather only for eating disorder driven motives. My advice: forgo the vegan diet until you are in recovery for a good period of time and your treatment team agrees that you are in a healthy state of mind to pick this diet back up.