Veganism’s Proliferation of Eating Disorders

By Avalon Kelly

*TW: Discussion of ED*

“5 healthy vegan snacks.” Swipe. “How veganism changed my body.” Swipe. “Why animal products are bad for you.” Swipe, swipe, swipe.  In our media-obsessed world, diet culture has become increasingly popular on sites such as TikTok and Instagram. Recently, veganism has become a dietary trend praised by influencers and celebrities. Although veganism is a positive choice for some, it can proliferate obsessive eating behaviors in others, as it excuses dietary restrictions and puts more attention on food and eating.

First, it is important to note that there has been no statistical causation found between veganism and eating disorders. Many factors influence eating disorders, and, according to vegan eating disorders therapist Jenny Weinar, “to say veganism in and of itself causes them would be a gross oversimplification.”

Because a vegan diet enables more easy restriction when it comes to eating, it can often excuse disordered eating patterns. Eating less or skipping meals because “there’s nothing on the menu” can be easily excused by veganism. “Be curious and honest with yourself when exploring your motivations for veganism,” advises Weiner. If an individual’s dieting is motivated by body image or weight loss, then veganism is likely a detrimental eating habit for them.

Furthermore, by placing a greater emphasis on food and eating, veganism can trigger eating disorders in those already predisposed to them. Vegans must diligently pay attention to the ingredients in snacks and meals in order to avoid animal products; however, this diligence can quickly turn into obsession. Checking the caloric label on every snack, every drink, every grocery item can trigger unhealthy messages we have been fed by diet culture throughout our entire lives: “Too many calories,” “fats are bad,” “only natural sugar.” This obsessive thinking in relation to food is often a warning sign for eating disorders.

Modern media culture has presented veganism as an appealing diet trend.  This fad has sparked a proliferation of obsessive attention to eating and disordered eating patterns.