“Veganism rekindled my desire for life. Last night, I said that I loved myself, and it was genuine.” – Amelia
One of the first things that she ever messaged me was “I certainly am not a vegan triathlete by any means, and my recovery is not over, but if you’re willing to share a work in progress, by all means, share my story! My past means so much to me: it has brought me to this moment, which I am forever grateful for.”
I would like to introduce to you a woman who has battled anorexia nervosa as she succumbed to the peer pressure involved in growing up around other pretty girls. From doing some things that were self-destructive when she was younger, she eventually went vegan and learned that she was worthwhile as a human being. Not only did her health improve, but so did her mindset. Much of the mental health ailments that she had battled dissipated for the most part. She began volunteering at an animal sanctuary and became an animal activist. Her story is being shared to Vegan Fierce in the hopes that other people suffering with their image and/or their weight will learn to love and appreciate themselves through going vegan. Her experience was simply not one where she went vegan for her health, but at a treatment center, she met an inspiring woman who taught her about the rights of animals.
It is with great pleasure that I introduce to you a vegan and animal activist who has learned what it means to have compassion for her well-being as well as the welfare of the animals. Please welcome Amelia! <3
“Of all the ridiculous slights I have heard against veganism, I’d say this is the worst; as they say, it really hits home for me.
In 2010, at age 13, I was diagnosed with anorexia nervosa. Over a two year period, I was hospitalized three times (I attended an outpatient program in addition to these inpatient programs). My life had absolutely no meaning: my only thought was to lose weight. At first, my aim was to fit in, to be “popular.” Why couldn’t I be skinny and beautiful like the rest of the middle school girls? Why was I not invited to parties and asked on dates by boys? Over time, my eating disorder evolved (perhaps I should say, devolved). If being skinny meant death, I still wanted it. I wasn’t truly fearful of food: I wanted an identity. I wanted something to grasp onto as the rough, undulating waves of life’s tsunami washed over me. My self-esteem had always been low. As a child, I bullied others (animals included) in order to make myself feel valuable and powerful. Inside, I raged with wild jealousy. I felt like the universe had dealt me a foul set of cards. The malicious voice within my mind echoed constantly, whispering “you’re fat, you’re ugly, you’re stupid, you’ll never be as good as her, you’re evil, you’re the spawn of the devil, you’re horrible, you deserve to die, you deserve pain!”
Fast-forward to summer 2012. My parents and I agreed that a more aggressive approach to treatment was required; we decided upon a residential treatment center in Arizona. Mirasol became a second home to me over the course of those three months, the other residents becoming my brother and sisters. They ultimately changed my life, and for that I am eternally grateful. You know who you are, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you.
At Mirasol, I met a girl who had once been a vegan, but was required to be vegetarian during her treatment. Wherever you are now, Willow, thank you for opening my eyes. I began to see meat not as food, but as the flesh of an animal. Against the recommendations of my treatment team, I became a vegan in November 2012.
No decision I have ever made in my life had made such a positive, healing impact. Do I still suffer from depression, OCD, and low self esteem? Do I often wish I was thinner, fitter, lighter, prettier, more alluring? All the time. But veganism has HEALED my heart and soul in a way I never thought possible. I lived in constant hope that I would soon die; today I have a desire to live my life so that I can help others. I strive to be the best version of myself, and I accept myself as a being deserving of life, love, and happiness.
Vegan is not synonymous with eating disorder; that is an obscene suggestion that makes my blood boil. Do some individuals abuse veganism in order to lose weight and restrict themselves of nourishment? Of course. Yet, while in the depths of my eating disorder, all I wanted was plain chicken. I was frightened to eat fruit, because of the sugar. Almond butter? I would’ve protested about the amount of fat. Potatoes? Too many calories and carbs for me. Today, I eat like a queen (#eatingmorecarbsthanyourboyfriend anyone?). My life is beautiful. I have amazing friends to whom I owe so much. I had a chance to work at Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary last summer, and will be interning there for several months in 2015 and every year in the future! The love I feel in my heart for others is enough to lift me above my hatred towards myself. My healing journey continues everyday, and each day I get a little stronger. I owe my life to my family, my friends, and the billions of animals whose lives are considered worthless. I know that they deserve freedom, and I will dedicate my life to them.
I searched for my identity for years, and tortured myself for not being perfect. Today, I identify myself as belonging to the earth. Today I see myself as vegan, because I equate that term with ultimate love for all creatures, including my own person.
Veganism is not an eating disorder. Veganism is love.
Thank you all! Have a peaceful day. Give thanks for all life. Eat from the earth. Feed your soul with peace, respect, and compassion.
All my love,
Amelia, Vegan Fierce Contributor Paul, Vegan Fierce Webmaster