I don’t think I had heard the term ‘clean eating’ this time two years ago. I had definitely heard of healthy eating though. Like many other food fads, ‘clean eating’ seems to come with many problems.
You can keep your juice cleanses, your 5-2 diets and your raw before 4. However, I do choose to eat vegan. A friend of mine shared an interesting article from The Independent this morning, where Olivia Petter talks about clean eating as a form of disordered eating. It reminded me of my dad’s reaction when I first went vegan, almost 20 years ago. (That’s right kids, I was vegan before it was mainstream.) He said that it was an eating disorder. Is this the case? Is it just another fad?
I’ve been asked why I’m vegan roughly eleventy billion and thirty eight times. Biting animals never seemed natural to me and I don’t recall ever enjoying the taste. Most of my family have trouble digesting dairy so it made sense to give that up too. A book called The Silent Ark by Juliet Gellately changed my perspective forever; it opened my eyes to environmental and human poverty factors which I hadn’t previously considered.
Don’t worry though, I’m not a militant vegan. I won’t insist on lecturing you about your food choices while waggling a hairy armpit in your face, just as long as you don’t try and put ham in my handbag or sneak salami on my sarnie. This is what is right for me. It’s not what’s right for everyone.
In fact, I would be more likely to discourage people from becoming vegan. This is because I believe it to be a lifestyle choice which can make you extremely poorly unless you take the time to research your dietary needs and ensure you’re getting all the right nutrients. Do you know how many miligrams of calcium you’ve had today? How about iron? To be a vegan, you have to be pretty comfortable reading and interpreting food labels. And yes, I do read the label of everything. Why wouldn’t you? Don’t you want to know what you’re putting in your body?
For me, being vegan isn’t about disordered eating and controlling weight. It’s about making a choice which I feel ethically comfortable with while still ensuring I’m as strong and healthy as I can be. After all, strong is the new skinny. Didn’t you get the memo? Admittedly, I can be a little obsessive. Mainly over protein. Man, I love me some protein. But it’s never about calorie restriction or depriving myself.
Whatever food choices you make, the principles of healthy eating are the same: plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, enough of complex carbs to give you energy, some good fats and some protein. Plenty of protein. All the protein. Maybe veganism can be symptomatic of disordered eating for some, but I think that it can also be a healthy, kind and environmentally friendly lifestyle….if done carefully. And as far as clean eating goes, just be sure to wash your fruit and veg. That ought to cover it.