Vegan or Orthorexic?

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know of at least one person who has either tried or adopted the vegan lifestyle.

Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or poultry. Vegans, in addition to being vegetarian, do not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal products. -The Vegetarian Resource Group

I think that when people choose to go vegan and their hearts are truly in the right place about it, it reflects in their behavior, decision making and outward countenance for the better.

When I went vegan between the years of 2007 and 2013, it was for the purposes of restricting. I was basically using the lifestyle as a socially acceptable excuse for my anorexia.

So for ME, Veganism did not make me kind.

Rather, it made me bitchier, more defensive and all the more inconsiderate.

That was the case for ME. I am not projecting that on the experiences of others–everyone is different.

So in examining my experience, it was yet another instance of manipulating circumstance to protect my eating disorder–even if it has to evolve in some way, or so it has been the case over the years. I am and have been, working on that.

There has been a lot of bad press lately about orthorexia & veganism, so I want to address that: 

What can happen to some individuals who adopt the Vegan Lifestyle is potentially developing the newly classified eating disorder called Orthorexia.  This is when the person becomes so focused upon healthy eating that they begin to eliminate unhealthy, impure or “bad” foods from their diet to the point that it becomes so restrictive that they become malnourished.  

The irony is that they are “so focused on being healthy” that they literally begin to sacrifice their health for the sake of it.  Before everyone starts shouting at once, please notice I said “Some” individuals and “Potentially” developing.

I want to be clear that Veganism does not cause Orthorexia.  

That would be like saying ‘Dieting causes Anorexia’ or ‘Getting the stomach flu causes Bulimia’, you see what I am saying?

Orthorexia is an eating disorder just like Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder and Exercise Addiction. 

Getting back to the veganism thing. All this business about *this isn’t vegan* and *that isn’t vegan*, etc. is really ridiculous. It’s just not practical.  I mean, maybe over time, a person can become 100 percent vegan in their diet and lifestyle, but I definitely wouldn’t force my naturally carnivorous pet to go vegan.

If I owned a couch, and it happened to be made of leather, I wouldn’t chuck it straight in the bin just because I’d gone vegan.  That’s silly and wasteful.

I don’t think many people can wipe out all their belongings and start from scratch, but they are still allowed to become AND take PRIDE in the fact that they are adopting a vegan lifestyle.

That’s allowed.

***Gets off soapbox***

Now then, to the REAL business at hand.  Food: 

You either love cottage cheese or you hate it.  It’s a dichotomy, which, in my estimation, is quite fitting a topic in this conversational environment.

I love it.  If you can’t stand the taste or texture of it, you can always eat Greek yogurt which has roughly the same amount of protein per serving.

When it comes to dairy, I eat it all: Cottage Cheese, Yogurt, Greek Yogurt, Frozen Yogurt, Cheese, Icecream, Milk, and Eggnog (although I missed out this past Christmas).104_2740Some people eschew consuming dairy due to reasons of lactose intolerance or their own personal preferences,  both of which I respect.  As stated above, I myself did not consume dairy for 6 years.  After having switched from 6 years as a strict vegan to omnivore, it’s interesting to witness the increase in documented cases of Orthorexia.  

I happened to be married when I first adopted a vegan diet–much to my highly carnivorous new husband’s chagrin.  Simply put, he felt as if the rug had been pulled out from him.  His main objections were the fears that grocery shopping for the household would be complicated, we’d no longer be able to split meals and restaurant dining would become the penultimate hassle. 

I, unfortunately, used veganism as a cover/excuse for my anorexia, but I am an anomaly and do sincerely support those who choose the vegan lifestyle! 

Do you ever have so much on your mind that you are holding something important in one hand and trash in the other and throw away the important thing and hold on to the trash for dear life?  Gaaahh, I just did that. 

Thankfully, I rescued it.  And no, it is not the snack I am about to consume, which is a non-vegan,  half-raw, gluten free, sweet and savory treat.  

Cottage Cheese 4% Milk Fat Cottage Cheese with Manually Crushed Raspberries 

Do Not Get Fat-Free Cottage Cheese, Please! (If you Must, You can get the Reduced Fat, 2%, but I don’t recommend it because you are sacrificing a lot of creamy taste for just a few calories and the extra fat should theoretically help you feel fuller longer and really, it’s delicious.

Added Nutrition Bonus Factoid: 

The fat will also help your system absorb more of the vitamins and minerals from the raspberries than you would with lower fat in the snack!  This is why it’s good to have a little good added fat with salads and stuff, so nix the fat-free dressing.  That shit tastes like garbage anyway.  104_2742

According to The Man, 1 serving for Cottage Cheese is 1/2 cup.  I always eat at least 1 cup, so if I buy a container this size which contains 4 recommended servings, I will eat half the container in one sitting, which I am totally comfortable with. 

I discovered this delicious combination snack of cottage cheese and raspberries when I was putting groceries away and too HaNgRy to wait and make anything, literally, standing at my counter like a savage.  

Positive note: Normally, behavior like this (eating standing up, at a kitchen counter, feeling HaNgRy, out-of-control, etc, normally results in binge/purge behavior.  This did not happen with this snack.  Thus, a positive association was made, and I am able to continue enjoying this snack specifically in a normal, non-disordered way).  


12 grams protein

110 KiloCalories

5 grams of fat

3 grams of saturated fat

430 grams of sodium

160 grams of potassium

Have I been sufficiently patronizing?


You can sub in Greek yogurt, Soy or Coconut Yogurt for the Cottage Cheese also.  They would have a similar thickness, but sweeter taste.  …or silk Tofu, but that is ultimately the same as eating Soy yogurt I think, but with less of the good bacteria, possibly? 

 I know I’m not giving you a “recipe” or revealing breaking news that cottage cheese and raspberries are nutritious foods; both standalone and combined, but I happened to be eating it and it reminded me that: 

1.) I eat this often (and it’s not vegan)

2.) There’s been a lot of talk lately about Veganism & Orthorexia 

3.) I can throw in my opinion about both #1 and #2 

Have you gone vegan or vegetarian?

What was your transition like?

What is your favorite healthy snack of the moment?   If it’s easy to assemble, I’ll usually try it!


13 thoughts on “Vegan or Orthorexic?

  1. “This is when the person becomes so focused upon healthy eating that they begin to eliminate unhealthy, impure or “bad” foods from their diet to the point that it becomes so restrictive that they become malnourished.” … just another label. just another way for “doctors” to make money from those unwilling to take responsibility for nourishing of their bodies. IMO.

  2. Total orthorexic here. I started out cutting “sugar” then “white flour” then “everything white.” Over time it was “processed foods,” then “grains,” and finally “animal foods.” I’m constantly walking the line between full on binge eating and restricting. Actually, I’m usually doing burpees on it. Doctors are as prejudiced against overweight people as the rest of the world. Mine is just thrilled about my weight and low blood pressure. Doesn’t even ask what I eat or how much. Only cares about the numbers. But that’s not his fault. He’s busy. My friend who is an in patient therapist says he’s never met a vegan who didn’t have an eating disorder. Honestly, neither have I, but my experience is hardly a random cross section of people.

    • Fascinating response, Ima. At least you are self-aware enough to realize it. The inpatient therapist would probably see a lot of that, huh?

      Most GPs are totally blind to recognizing eating disorders until they’ve reached the point of negatively affecting vitals. Yes, they are busy and they’ve had their psych rounds maybe forever ago, so it’s not on their mind. I am sure your BP is stellar. Mine has always been, too, disorder or no.

  3. Kristen,
    I read your blog a few times a week, and am always so impressed by your ability to reflect on your own life experiences in an intelligent, dispassionate, and interesting manner. You also write so well.
    I know you’ve written about how it’s tough for you to find a job for various reasons, but I was wondering — and I apologise for suggesting this, because you must have thought about it — but have you ever considered volunteering at a mental illness charity? I don’t know much about charities in the US, but in the UK mental health charities are often looking to work with people exactly like you (for instance: I think you’d do a phenomenal job.

    Anyway, keep up the excellent work!!!

    • Hi Vera,

      Thanks for your dedicated readership, and for the very nice compliments. I think I need to move to the UK! It sounds like mental illness stigmas are overlooked *over the pond*. I will look into it here, but I live in a slow to progress town with few resources such as those. Anyway, thanks for the suggestion, and thanks for reading!

    • Hi Amanda,
      Thank you for the sweet note. Yes, I’m okay–I’ll be picking back up where I left off in a few days. 🙂

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