I’m a pescotarian (vegetarian that eats seafood), and finding this Time article by John Cloud entitled “Study: Is Vegetarianism a Teen Eating Disorder?” was a little bit infuriating.
First, the numbers may have been statistically different for teens who haven’t tried vegetarianism and those who have to develop or have had an easting disorder, but they’re still small. There could be a correlation, sure. I am of the mind to doubt that being a vegetarian causes one to have mental deficiency between what their body looks like and what they think it looks like. Maybe it’s an easier excuse that someone who does have an eating disorder can use, but vegetarians still eat.
I understand that some say they do it for one reason while not fully participating in that fact (I was doing it for mostly sustainability and treatment issues – I don’t have a big issue with death in general), but recently found out that fishing is a major sustainability problem; but those sorts of cognitive dissodence is everywhere in everybody and not an anomoly to be used to explain that teenage vegetarians tend to have eating disorders (by the numbers they don’t really – it’s still a minority).
I want to also bring up the gender issue. From my experience there are more female vegetarians than male. Chuck it to the societal masculinity of meat (I still don’t understand that – anyone who wants to enlighten me, please do) or the female desire to nurture and care more (woah, watch me stereotype!). Females also account for 90% of eating disorders (while also taking rougly 50% of the population).
This article just painted vegetarians in such a negative light I couldn’t take it seriously, to be honest. (“It could also be that vegetarians are hungrier in general and somewhat more prone to bouts of binge eating.” What kind of sense does that make as long as you’re eating enough, regardless of whether it’s animal meat or not?)
I choose not to eat meat because I don’t find it particularly necessary at this point in our evolution (throwing out the “survival of the fittest” idea; yes other animals eat each other because they have to, but humans have defied other animalistic tendencies), nor very sustainable or humane. I don’t find myself moralistically superior to meat-eaters, I just made this decision.
I have gotten as much, if not more, ridicule for being a vegetarian than most of my meat-eating friends get suggestions to become vegetarians. It’s not just vegetarians that want to instill their own morals on people.