WARNING: this article references eating disorders
Recovery from eating disorders is incredibly hard, and it is a one size fits one scenario. Each person finds their own way. But, it is important to check in with professionals since health should be the number one priority.
Redditor throwaway777love encountered this very issue with her daughter. So she turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for moral judgment.
“AITA for not letting my anorexic 14 year old in recovery go vegetarian?”
The Original Poster (OP) explained:
“My daughter developed anorexia when she was 12. She has been begging me to let her go vegetarian since when she was 10, but I said no since she was too young and she should ask again when she turns 13.”
“She asked when she turned 13. I told her no.”
“She is quite underweight due to her anorexia and I do not want her losing anymore due to 0 protein. She has told me that she is in no way going vegetarian to lose weight (she is in partial recovery) and she is doing it purely for animal cruelty reasons.”
“I am still firm on my ground that she should not go vegetarian as she is currently very weak and frail due to malnutrition. My family are big meat eaters, and even if she recovers I doubt I could support her decision to go vegetarian.”
“My daughter is very upset at me and keeps telling me she’s not trying to lose more weight but I just do not want to risk it.”
“She almost throws a fit every time I serve meat at dinner. I am not sure if she genuinely feels bad or just wants to lose weight. Her doctor instructs me to not let her skip ANY meals so I tell her she has to eat at least half of the meat.”
“I have not consulted her doctor yet, but I have heard that in ED recovery clinics the patients are allowed to eat vegetarian/vegan.”
“Please keep in mind she is not fully recovered. She still has a BMI of 15.2, (used to be 13.8) She is still physically unwell and I cannot trust her to make wise decisions on her diet.”
“The ‘0’ protein remark was a hyperbole. Apologies for not being more clear on that.”
Redditors gave their opinions on the situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors agreed there were no a**holes here.
“You need to talk to professionals about this – not us bozos on Reddit.” ~ Ann-von-Beaverhausen
“Also my anorexic ex used being vegetarian to not eat.” ~ OverPot
“I feel like it can go either way, to be honest. Plenty of anorexics use veganism/being a vegetarian as an excuse in order to hide their illness, but there’s also a lot who use it to help with their recovery.”
“Feeling secure that your diet is ‘healthier’ and won’t cause you to gain as much weight can help you feel more secure in eating, which is marginally better than starving yourself, so long as you’re doing it right and making sure to get the nutrients you need.”
“Edit to add emphasis to ‘so long as you’re doing it right and making sure to get the nutrients you need.’ It’s important to note that claiming you’re vegan/vegetarian to hide your disorder is NOT the same as actually being vegan/vegetarian.” ~ uva11
Some people say vegetarianism helped their recovery.
“Yeah I was gonna say that as someone who had anorexia for a few years, going vegetarian actually helped me recover. I weighed the most I ever did as a vegetarian, and I think something about leading that lifestyle helped me gain some of the control I wanted through my ed.”
“I totally see how it could be detrimental to some, but honestly I could totally see starting to make some switches as long as the daughter adheres to weight and nutrition goals.” ~ dirrtyhippy
“Same for me! I struggled with eating disorders from 14-21. I went vegetarian at 21 and I truly think it saved me. This varies so much from person to person, but a vegetarian diet, I think, gave me a sense of control without leaning into unhealthy habits. Sending you continued love and strength!” ~ janeaustenpowers
“You as well, eating disorders can be so hard and the road to recovery so long so I’m very proud of you hopefully this family unit can get some professional insight and go about helping this young girl in a way that gives her back her autonomy.” ~ dirrtyhippy
“I don’t think it’s necessary her disapproval of vegetarians/vegans, I think she’s just a really scared concerned mom who isn’t educated enough on the proteins her daughter would be able to obtain through a vegetarian/vegan diet, since her & her family are big meat eaters.”
“I think her ‘forcing’ her daughter to eat meat or what everyone else is eating at dinner is just stemming from pure fear. I do agree that she should consult a professional & look into vegetarian/vegan forums.” ~ Brunettesarebettr
“May have even contributed to the ED in the first place when she was 10. A vegetarian lifestyle can be very good, healthy and fulfilling.” ~ Altruistic_Stuff_385
“I was leaning that way myself especially when OP started talking about how they were big meat eaters and she can’t see her being ok with it even if she recovers. Might have started out as avoidance of the meat dishes cooked or a defiance issue that ended up spiraling out of control.”
“My kid has an anorexic BMI number. Not anorexia but combo of extreme low weight genes on both sides and ADHD medication. We’re just trying to get them to a BMI of 15 and the Drs. Instructions are high fat, eggs and whatever food they’ll eat as frequently as we can get it in.”
“Using egg, dairy, tofu, beans and nuts you can get a lot of protein. I’m sure Dr. can recommend a dietician to devise a vegetarian diet that would work. OP’s meat or else diet seems counter productive.” ~ Tired_Mama3018
If you or anyone you know is struggling with an eating disorder you can find help by calling (800) 931-2237.