When veganism feels like dieting

December 8, 2010

Lisa asked what to do when veganism “feels like dieting” and I can certainly understand where she’s coming from. It’s absolutely essential for deeper reasons to exist for your veganism that go beyond health and nutrition, otherwise it feels like dieting because that’s what it is, even if it’s not for weight loss:

The video was getting long so I had to stop rambling, but I want to paraphrase/expand this bit from last week’s newsletter: sometimes it’s OK if things feel like dieting – you could just be taking a break from pushing yourself, and breaks are one of the most important parts of progress (recovery is where the growth actually happens.) For that to work, you need to be pushing yourself the rest of the time, otherwise you’ve got nowhere to go but down, and if “following the rules of veganism” is all you’ve got, then there’s not much room between that and quitting altogether.

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Haley December 9, 2010 at 7:19 am

My husband feels that was at times and is prone to cheating. 🙁

I have my own issues with diets in general, I hate them. I am a big fat accepting, feminist, vegan that does her best to follow HAES, when I went vegan several months ago I lost a whopping 6 pounds. I went vegan because of my rats of all things. I have some that I am the caretaker of, they are awesome and loving and in many places misunderstood and seen as snake food. Reading about a rescue from a place the normally raises them as such made me feel ill one day, I got upset about how such amazing animals can be treated like that and then sad because snakes have to eat something. It all clicked. I realized my own food was treated just as horrendously and that I did not have to be a part of it.

I was actually on the phone with my bosses wife the other day and she had heard I was vegan and was giving me all this diet advice. I told her I was not doing it as a way of losing weight and was instead doing it because I love animals. She laughed at me like I was a crazy person and said she loved them too. She didn’t get it. I like my boss and his wife and would rather not have them pissed at me so I excused myself politely and went back to work.

I guess the best way to me to not feel like it is a diet is to start baking up all those awesome vegan desserts. Seriously, vegan cookies are so full of win. Indulge in some not that healthy but cruelty free stuff, don’t feel like you are depriving yourself on some fad diet eat food you love!

Erin December 9, 2010 at 7:02 pm

Hmm… I guess I’m a lucky one. I did do it for the animals, haven’t lost any weight and never feel deprived.

I had to disagree with the newsletter, because when you talked about being uncomfortable or “doing more,” I thought you meant a more restrictive diet. That is just asking for failure. Diets by definition are for a limited time and lead to failure. End of story. Diets don’t work for this very reason.

I went to lunch with a few coworkers a year ago and it was best summed up in what we ordered. One coworker was a slim dance teacher, and she ordered the salad. The other was an overweight substitute who ordered the beef nachos and said, “I’m starting my diet tomorrow.” I orded a grilled veggie sandwich that was baked. I am also overweight. The slim dance teacher said, “I’m on a life-it, instead of a die-et.” That made sense to me, but I know if I was eating salad that would not be my lifelong eating habits. I was raised to believe that cooking and eating good, wholesome food was our religion (honestly, my grandfather told me that these were our beliefs when I was a child- and that feeding others who were hungry was part of it).

What I’m saying is, satiate yourself with wonderful foods and it doesn’t feel like a diet. I would suggest some of the amazing vegan cookbooks out there for anyone who feels like they are on a diet. I hate when people say, “Oh, you’re on a vegan diet, I’ve heard that really works!” They are right, despite what the scale says, my heart is no longer heavy.

Amanda December 9, 2010 at 8:46 pm

I actually eat a far more varied and exciting diet now than when I ate animal products. I in no way feel like I’m on a diet anymore…I say “anymore” because when I was first diagnosed with IBS, and a high sensitivity to animal proteins back in march, I was living off of veggie stir fry and tofu noodles because I was always sick, and scared to eat anything. I dropped a massive amount of weight, but am now back to normal and eating things I had never previously heard of! (polenta, lotus root, seitan to name a few).
I’d never go back to eating meat even if I could. This no longer feels like work as a “diet” would. I’m not hungry all the time and don’t feel deprived. My suggestion to those who find themselves feeling like this requires way too much work, is to branch out. Go to a veggie friendly restaurant, visit a vegan grocery store and stock up on your favorite items (frozen corn dogs was but one of many favorite foods I found a vegan version of), and experiment in the kitchen!

Jason December 9, 2010 at 10:45 pm

Erin, thanks for pointing out your interpretation of the newsletter – that wasn’t where I was trying to go at all! I’ll try for a clarification video tomorrow, since I’ve already promised a topic for Monday’s newsletter.

Erin December 9, 2010 at 10:52 pm

@Jason, I think I was sensitive because someone in my local veg group posted something recently that really put me off. A vegetarian asked why all the meetups were vegan, even though there are vegetarians and vegans in the group. This woman replied that it’s all a path, and that vegetarians are on the way, but then vegans are a bit further, then those who go Raw, and that she only eats juice and has forgone all “food” for the greatest level of enlightenment.
When you said go further and be uncomfortable, I just pictured this woman living off juice- YIKES! Definitely my own madness!

Jason December 9, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Oh, that’s a whole other rant (i.e. video) for another day – when did the “dietary continuum” get invented, and can I get a time machine to, well, first kill Hitler, because that’s what you do with time machines, I’m told, but then have a chat with whoever decided that raw was the natural next step after veganism?

Erin December 9, 2010 at 11:06 pm

I don’t know… I mean, I get that people who end up Raw usually end up there along the lines of vegan first (there’s a woman I met recently who is trying to take her family from SAD to RAW with little to no nutritional knowledge- she needs a continuum).

I think my poor husband knows about this continuum idea too. My friend who is raw lent me a cool cookbook of raw recipes because I was interested in trying some, my poor husband said, “That’s not the next step, right? Because I want to eat cooked tofu. I’m happy with tofu, but I want it cooked.”

Twisted Cinderella December 10, 2010 at 6:47 am

The way I look at it for me is that I am vegan because I feel better that way and for now, I am also on a diet. The diet will end at some point, the vegan lifestyle will not (although like your video more things are starting to come into play and I am switching all my household products to vegan ones) .

Lauren December 10, 2010 at 11:18 am

@haley RIGHT ON!

I actually gained weight the first 6 months I was vegan. I discovered I could make amazing cookies and fudge. It felt like an accomplishment to make VEGAN cookie and fudge, so I made them much more than when I wasn’t vegan.

Mmmh. I love eating! I love deserts. Hard to feel like you’re on a diet if you have fudge around.

I think this also goes with- keep trying new things until you’ve tried them all.

I actually just made fudge for my class:

melt a bunch of chocolate (dark pound plus bar from trader joes (or 17.6 ounces)
with a dash of canola oil, (stirring constantly)
dash of vanilla
once smooth mix in toffuti (1 container)
once that is melted add mix ins

I normally do oreo like cookies, dried fruit (golden berry blend from trader joes) and walnuts. though it would be good with almonds and dandies marshmallows.

if you make this it doesn’t feel like dieting anymore. though I can’t say its healthy.

on the other side of the spectrum, I’ve had health issues this past year and a half that have caused me to lose a lot of weight, for which I am congratulated. I don’t mind being this size now, but I’d trade the weightloss for my year and half any day. It is also frustrating because people who don’t know about my illness assume: oh look, vegans are weak. you’d be week too if you only ate every other day.

but recently its getting better and I’m making lots of yummy food and eating it!

SillyString December 10, 2010 at 3:36 pm

My problem is that I live in a certain city in California that has the highest per-capita ratio of fast food restaurants in the US. We’re also on the “Highest Crime”, “Most Meth Labs” and “Worst Places to Live” list. No, moving is not an option.

There’s a salad-bar place I like out by the mall, but I don’t think there’s one vegetarian restaurant in town. We’ve got a Trader Joe’s but not a Whole Foods (or anything similar) so getting a wide variety of ingredients means firing up the petroleum monster for an expensive trip to another city. We grow a lot of stuff around here on the farms. So at certain times of year, we’ve got a good variety of produce when the fruit stands are operating.

Y’know another big problem with going veg is the cost. Fresh produce is really expensive. I’d start a garden if I had room. It’s not like it’s rare around where I live cuz we grow an incredible variety of produce in our County, just gets shipped out to other places! The cruel irony…

So I think I could go vegetarian if I had more cash and several hours a week to go shopping/stealing from the fields. Lame excuse, I know. Any good tips?

Jason December 10, 2010 at 3:43 pm

SS: you want tips? You got ’em:


Going vegan doesn’t mean replacing every piece of crap in your diet with the most expensive fresh produce you can find. You can eat expensively on just about any meal plan, but veganism can be much cheaper than what the typical North American eats, in my experience. Check this post for some thoughts on that:


Also, vegetarian restaurants are cool, but not essential. Restaurants with vegetarian options work just fine, and it’s pretty hard to find one that puts meat in 100% of the dishes.

Now, what’s your next excuse? 🙂

Mary December 14, 2010 at 10:45 am

Also, vegetarian restaurants are cool, but not essential. Restaurants with vegetarian options work just fine, and it’s pretty hard to find one that puts meat in 100% of the dishes.

And you can always ask to have it removed from most dishes that it’s on.

Mary December 14, 2010 at 10:46 am

Sorry, I meant to put quotes around Jason’s words on my last comment. The first paragraph is his.

brandy January 16, 2011 at 1:16 am

nice site!
i went vegan, spent less on groceries, but ate much better, became a better cook. did not lose one pound. since i am chubby, i love to see how shocked people are that i am vegan. i joke that vegans CAN deep fry everything if they choose. of course, only with people who know I am joking 😉 i think is is all a matter of what we see as food, and what we are willing to do as far as food prep goes, that determines what we eat. i love food. love cooking. i doubt i will convert anyone based on what i cook for them, true. i still enjoy having people over, vegan or not, and enjoying a meal where i don’t have to feel bad that there is a dead creature on my friends plate. cooking at home allows me that. eating out..harder.. but not impossible.

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