I’m letting go of identifying as a vegan. And this time, it’s for good. I’ve been in the world of veganism for 8 years and it’s been a roller coaster ride. But now, it’s time to get off.
My veganism journey started in 2011. I was curious and excited for this new journey. Luckily, I was living in DC where black vegans reign. I had a lot of dope mentors, friends, and tasty hang out spots to help me along the way that I documented my journey on the internet through blogging, vlogging and social media. Slowly, folks knew me as the Young Black Vegan.
But what if I told you that after 3 years, there were many nights that I ate armfuls of non vegan fast food in the middle of the night? Or how I stuffed all types of meals and snacks that my belly grew twice its size after a rough day? Times that I would secretly purge what I previously stuffed in my mouth 20 minutes before?
Would you call me a phony?
I did, but my former therapist, called it binge eating disorder (BED). According to the National Eating Disorders Association, binge eating disorder is a severe, life-threatening, and treatable eating disorder characterized by recurrent episodes of eating large quantities of food (often very quickly and to the point of discomfort); a feeling of a loss of control during the binge; experiencing shame, distress or guilt afterwards; and not regularly using unhealthy compensatory measures (e.g., purging) to counter the binge eating.
I was diagnosed with the most common eating disorder at 24, but I’ve been suffering with disordered eating since I was 9.
For as long as I remember, I’ve been trying to lose weight and nothing was ever good enough. In the 5th grade, I put myself on 1000 calorie diets. In high school, I had strenuous workout sessions 2 hours a day. I remember sobbing when my mother refused to sign the parent permission slip to attend the new gym in my town.
In college, I had veganism. And to be honest with myself and with you all, my reason to be a vegan was unhealthy. I didn’t become a vegan for the animals, the environment, or spiritual reasons. Deep down, my reason was what it has always been: to control my eating, lose weight, and finally love myself.
I created this video after gaining 30 pounds my freshman year. I wanted to find another way to control my weight and veganism felt like the best way.
And like every diet attempt, I was disappointed. As the years went by, I couldn’t keep up. And I feel like I was faking the funk trying to match the IG famous black vegans with their bodybuilding, cleanses, and long meditations. I was trying to be like them because I felt that was the best way to live. To me, that was perfection. I tried all the cleanses, researched the diets, and spent all the money. With 8 years of veganism, diet culture, and fitspo, all I have to show is 100 more lbs on my body, an aggravated eating disorder, and the overwhelming feeling of failure. So much pressure social media has put on me. So much pressure I had put on myself.
It wasn’t until I tried conch in Guadeloupe that something clicked. As a woman who valued freedom so dearly, the freedom to pursue my dreams, to have meaningful relationships, to express myself, I was constantly infringing my freedom to eat whatever the hell I wanted. Here I was in a beautiful country wanting to explore their cuisine. I wanted to try the local dishes, grab their spices and herbs, learn about their cooking styles. Why should I neglect trying something new because I deemed it bad?
“I know for sure: your journey begins with a choice to get up, step out, and live fully”– Oprah Winfrey
As I started to accept myself, I started to accept my body and a lot of things changed for me. I started to buy the clothes I really wanted, try the things I felt too fat to try, and I even dust off my ol’ Tinder profile. I was finally living and no longer policing my eating habits was just another step in my process.
So, what should you expect from me? Even though I’m still figuring things out, I will continue to create, eat, and share whole plant-based meals.
Because I genuinely love it.
The one thing my veganism journey has taught me is that plants are amazing. Living as a vegan for the past 8 years has developed a new passion I’m currently pursuing: nutrition and culinary arts. I love trying new vegan restaurants, volunteering for vegan organizations, and developing plant-based recipes. And even though I didn’t really understand the ethical standpoint of veganism until way later in my vegan journey, that is something that I still care about. I think that no matter what, I will always prioritize vegan foods and goods first. It’s a value and habit that I care about.
But there are times where I will eat my momma’s oxtails and curry goat when I visit her because she loved me enough to make them for me. There are times where I will try meat dishes when I travel because of pure intrigue that might result in me making them plant-based later. And I will probably get a beef burger every once in a while when I crave them during my period. All these things, I’m not going to apologize for.
Denouncing veganism to me isn’t about going back to where I was. It’s more about giving myself grace. A sweet lesson my dear friend, Tiana, taught me earlier this year. As a plant-based person herself, she reminded me to not put too much pressure on myself and to not let others do the same. Listening to her advice, alleviated the burden of identifying myself as a vegan and the shame when I didn’t uphold to vegan standards.
So, that’s it. There’s my story. Thank you all who’ve been rocking with me for the past 8 years and I really hope you stay. And if not, c’est la vie. And for the ones that do, there’s so much more in store as my life mission has shifted to something I’m really excited and proud about.
As I am accepting who I am and learning to live fully, I am dedicated to help others do the same. Stay tuned.