Four months ago, I did something I never thought would happen. I took a step back and decided to become a vegetarian rather than a vegan. It was an extremely difficult choice to make because it’s not something that matches with my ethics. It was something I felt I had to do for my own physical and mental health.
When I went into the military my diet was far from good. Sure, I ate vegan, meaning loads of veggies and fruit – but that was basically it. As the young idiot I was I thought I wouldn’t need to take vitamins and that I’d be fine without it. Boy, was I wrong!
After one year living off carrots, potatoes, toast and rice I found myself feeling blue and constantly tired. I’d go to work and straight to bed afterwards. Turned out, from my blood results, I was low in vitamin D and B12. What many vegetarians and vegans know is that vitamin deficiency is a serious problem, especially a lack of B12. I ended up taking a multivitamin, but my B12 was so low I had to get regular shots into my buttchecks, which was a new low I didn’t think I could reach.
After my levels increased I started feeling great again, and everything was good. That was until I found myself in an incredible stressful period in May 2017. For years I’ve struggled with restricting behaviours whenever I feel stressed. Apparently, I feel the need to control at least some aspects of my life when I feel this way, and my focus shifts towards my eating habits and weight. So, I started restricting heavily, blaming me not eating with friends and family on veganism. That summer I ended up losing over 10 kg and some days not eating more than 500 calories.
Finally, after months of misery I, and a few close friends, pushed me to seek help. It was decided that I should try out vegetarianism so not to feed my restriction. With this and other mental exercises I managed to let myself have enough food, gain back the weight (and a bit more, naturally), and I was feeling amazing.
Going back to vegetarianism helped me see how restrictive I was living – not because of veganism itself, but because I was hiding behind it. But my ethics doesn’t agree with vegetarianism, I believe that veganism, for me, is the best way to live when done properly. So, I’m now cutting out the dairy and the eggs and going back to a happy vegan life.
I’m writing this as a reminder that what you eat is incredible important for both your mind and body. I know that, after 4,5 years, there sometimes are hard times being a vegan, but you should always put your mental and physical health first. Once this is at its best you can hopefully properly commit yourself to matching your ethics and your diet.
Please take care of yourselves and make sure to eat in a way that makes the world a better place, but also in a way that makes you the best you can be!