Can You Be Vegan And An Intuitive Eater?

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You’ve found the page for my conversation with Angela about Intuitive Eating for vegans!

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A bit about Angela:

Angela Wortley is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. She has a virtual private practice and sees clients all over the U.S. She specializes in eating disorders, chronic dieting, and vegan nutrition. Angela has been an ethical vegan for 17 years and is passionate about helping vegans have a healthy and supportive relationship with food. 

Picture of Angela Wortley, RDN

Resources Mentioned In this Episode


Angela: You can be a wonderful, compassionate advocate for animals in any size body you know, um, no matter what. And it, it just doesn’t have any, you know, the way that you look has no standing on your inherent worth as a human being.

Christine: Welcome to the Plant Powered You Podcast. The podcast devoted to clearing up confusion about nutrition for vegan. I’m Christine, your host and vegan bestieand Oh yeah. I also happen to be a dietitian. Whether you’re curious, transitioning to veganism or very well seasoned, these episodes are made for you.

As a disclaimer, this podcast is just providing education and a bit of entertainment. If you have any questions about your health or diet, talk to your own healthcare provider. Please see our full disclaimers on our website. The link is posted in the show notes.

Hello, Angela, welcome to the podcast!

Angela: Thank you so much! I’m excited to be here.

Christine: So Angela is not only a registered dietitian, but she’s also happens to be vegan and a certified intuitive eating counselor who owns a virtual private practice in the US.

Thought about you when I saw some interest in hearing more about intuitive eating for vegans. So just to start out, could you just share a little bit about more about what you do and how you became vegan?

Angela :Sure. Yeah. So I have been in private practice for about five years now, and before that, um, I worked for a hospital system and I saw people through all different kinds of things. And I’ll just say briefly, I got into intuitive eating, doing outpatient counseling at the hospital, and all these weight loss consults were coming in.

And it ended up being a lot more like emotional than I was really prepared for or trained for in school.

Christine: Oh, I can relate to that.

Angela: Yeah. And so I started looking up other resources like for emotional eating and chronic dieting and things like that. And I found intuitive eating. I was vegan before that, so just short story about that.

I’ve just, always felt really connected to animals and I always had, you know, cats and dogs growing up and, um, just really loved them a lot. And one day after a particularly kind of disturbing eating experience when I was about 13 years old, it was just kind of undeniable that like, hey, I’m eating animals here.

It was kind of like a gross out situation, but also that connection with, you know, I don’t, I don’t wanna eat animals anymore, so. Kinda much to my mom’s dismay, I decided to go vegetarian and then it took me, unfortunately, quite a few more years after that to, you know, learn about the dairy and egg industries and other, you know, animal industries and how they harm animals.

And eventually I got around to going completely vegan in my twenties. Um, and I’ve then began for about 17 years now.

Christine: Wow, that’s so interesting. Yet I didn’t go completely vegetarian. Um, after I had an interesting experience, that actually kind of got me going in the direction. It was, I think it was mad cow’s disease that I got really scared about and it was like, I am not eating any meat again.

But the story is quite long and it’s over on my blog. So anyways, we’ll go back to the topic at hand, which is intuitive eating. And so I mentioned that you’re a certified intuitive eating counselor. So what exactly is that for those who don’t know?

Angela: Sure. So becoming a certified intuitive being counselor is actually a process and it is put on by the authors of Intuitive Eating.

So there are three different parts to it. You have to read the book and take a quiz in the first part. You have to do an online, kind of like web course. And then at the end you have to do three, supervision sessions with either Evelyn or Elise and I did group supervision with Evelyn. And then you take a test and you’re certified and you’re ready to go out and, um, counsel people using intuitive eating principales.

Christine: Neat. Were you like starstruck when you met Evelyn? Cause I think that’s like a lot of people’s dream in that space!

Angela: Yeah, I was kinda nervous, but she’s so down to earth and it wasall, it was virtual and actually we didn’t even see her, like she didn’t have the cameras on during voice kind of coming through.

It was really cool just to be honest, spend, you know, time with her and hear her take on questions.

Christine: Oh that is incredible. Also, for those who don’t know, what is Intuitive Eating? I know that’s a big question, but, I guess try to explain as best as can.

Angela: Sure, so I’ll do kind of like my, in a nutshell, answer about it.

So it’s an evidence based anti diet framework. A lot of people don’t know that it’s evidence based. They kind of have the misconception, Intuitive Eating means, like just eat what you want whenever you want it, right? But actually research went into this. Um, and so it’s an anti diet framework for healing your relationship with food movement, and your body.

Um, it was created by two registered dietitians that I mentioned before, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. They wrote the first edition of the book in the 1990s and they’re now on the fourth edition, which just came out a couple of years ago. So it’s kind of evolved quite a bit. Um, and since then there have been over 200 studies published on Intuitive Eating.

So there’s been a lot of research. There are 10 principles. Do you want me to read through them?

Christine: Yeah, go for it.

Angela: So reject the diet mentality. Honor your hunger. Make peace with food. Challenge the food police. Discover the satisfaction factor. Feel your fullness, cope with your emotions with kindness.

Respect your body, movement-feel the difference, and honor your health with gentle nutrition. So those are the ways that kind of, you know, guide you through the process of Intuitive Eating.

Christine: I have read that book as well. I think it was the third edition that I read. And I really liked it a lot and I know not everybody who’s listening to this has probably read the book, but if you just listen to the principles, you might get sort of an idea what they might be about.

So we’re just gonna take them kind of at face value how they were read. And I just kind of thought about what kind of questions somebody might have about them, essentially.

So number one, the principle you said was reject the diet mentality, and specifically for vegans I’m wondering if you’ve noticed any, unique diet mentality that exists in the vegan space, and is that problematic?

Angela: Yeah, absolutely. So really I think that, the plant-based diet and vegan worlds get kind of muddled together somewhat. So I guess, you know, when I think about veganism, it’s kind of more of an ethical stance against using animals, as far as possible for each person. Um, and then plant-based dieting is more, you know, like focused on health or weight loss.

And so, the two have some things in common. Um, but they do it for more, you know, health reasons I guess. And so that kind of, I don’t know, there’s been a lot of books written and plant-based doctors and influencers and things like that, that kind of, talk about veganism, I guess, in a diety way, in a restrictive way.

Where I think, you know, they’re, they’re talking more about plant-based dieting, but you know, trying to avoid specific foods that are technically vegan, like oil salt, plant-based meats, cheeses and things like that. And, you know, it is really harmful and problematic I think, um, because it is just kind of another form of dieting.

Christine: Yeah, that like that makes a lot of sense. I like to say that veganism is a philosophy that inspires a lifestyle change. So, you know, it’s rooted in that philosophy, which is not about dieting, there’s so much more to veganism. You know, it goes to not just with what we eat, but also our forms of entertainment, the clothing that we wear, it’s just much bigger than the diet itself.

Anyways. Oh, did you have any more to add to that point or?

Angela: I don’t think so. Well, I guess just also, um, you know, vegans are kind of given the message that they need to be thin to be, you know, good vegans or good representatives of the movement, which I just think is really false and you know, it really is rooted in fat phobia and kind of ableism or healthism that you need to be this like thin, healthy person to be a good vegan.

Christine: Yeah. Yeah. Speaking of that, um, because yeah, I’ve, I’ve kind of got that feeling as well in the vegan space that there’s this stigma that you should be thin.

Where do you think that that comes from, like specifically for vegans?

Angela: So I think, you know, I’ve always heard the stereotype that, you know, vegetarians and vegans are thin or puny or weak. Cause you know, the kind of assumption that we’re just eating, like salads or rabbit food and things like that, and I think that, you know, western culture really equates meat eating with like strength and manliness.

And so therefore if you’re not eating meat, you’re probably. Thin, weak person. Right? That’s where I think that stereotype comes from. And then I think it’s just perpetuated, you know, by like the plant-based diet world, that if you go vegan or plant-based, that you’re gonna lose weight and it’s just, you know that kind of thing.

So, um, I think there’s a lot that goes into.

Christine: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. So the next question I had, the book mentions that we should not assign moral value to food- or something along those lines. So for the vegans out there who are wondering-the ethical vegans, does that mean that they can’t use the principles in Intuitive Eating because they don’t consider animals as “foods” quote unquote?

Angela: Yeah, this is a great question. I think it’s really applicable to vegans who wanna practice intuitive eating. Um, I think it’s a really common misconception that comes up about intuitive eating for vegans or people who have to avoid certain foods because of, you know, religious reasons or health reasons, you know, food allergies for example.

And I don’t think this was the intent of the authors at all saying that, you know, you have to eat every single available food out there in order to be an intuitive eater. Um, and I actually pulled a quote from the workbook if you want me to read it, that.

So, you know, they actually say in, in the workbook that (quote from the Intuitive Eating Workbook) “you may choose to pursue vegetarianism or veganism, whether for their potential health benefits for personal reasons.”

We’re rejecting people, giving us rules about, you know, what to eat and when to eat it and how much to eat. But personal values are absolutely. You know, able to be integrated into intuitive eating, and I think, you know, um, that really veganism fits into it greatly. As long as you’re not turning veganism into a diet to restrict.

Hmm. And that’s in the chapter on Gentle Nutrition, where they’re kind of talking about how we’re blending, you know, our attunement to our bodies cues with our values. And I think values are totally different than, um, external rules, right? So we’re talking about rejecting the diet mentality. We’re rejecting people giving us rules about what to eat and when to eat it and how much to eat.

But personal values are absolutely able to be integrated into intuitive eating, and that veganism fits into it greatly as long as you aren’t turning veganism into a diet to restrict.

Christine: That’s right. So it’s the intention behind the food choices that you, you’ve made. Yeah.

Angela: Absolutely. Yes.

Christine: Yeah, and I’ve heard it several times that, you know, vegan see animal products that are out there as not food. So if you don’t even think of it as an option, then it’s kind of hard not to, or it’s kind of hard to say that there’s rules around it in a sense.

With that being said, our culture. Say that eating animal products is normal. So I also don’t think that there’s any shame in vegans, you know, missing the meat they used to eat or dairy products or whatever. And that’s, and something that helps with that definitely is all the things that we have today that taste very much like it, or recipes we can try.

So, I guess I would say to that, is that if you still want to consume things that taste like meat or dairy or whatever, you know, find a good recipe or there’s a lot of good products out there for sure. To, um, fill those cravings in a sense.

Angela: Absolutely, yes. We can get those flavors and textures and kind of, um, you know, traditional and comfort foods from plants. And it’s so much easier these days to do that than it has been in the past.

Christine: Oh yah for sure. I remember, I, I love soy milk now, but I remember trying it when I was like 12 or 13 and thinking I could never drink this and I don’t know, just one brand that I’ve tried. It just tastes so good.

It doesn’t taste bean-y like I used to remember. And I’m like, Dang, this is my new favorite for sure.

Angela: Yeah. Well even so milk has come a long way. I think in the beginning, like you said, it was very bean-yand I remember it kinda being like this light brown color, and I remember it being a lot different.

Christine: Yes. We, we are so fortunate, today to have all the vegan stuff that we could want pretty much.

Angela: Definitely.

Christine: Principle two talks about honoring your hunger. Let’s talk about new vegans. I know you see some clients for intuitive eating and maybe you see new vegans as well. So people who are just, um, adopting this lifestyle. Do they have a harder time? Let this honor your hunger part about, you know, like maybe say their intuition is telling them to eat dairy cheese.

Angela: So, yeah, that’s a really good question. I think it depends on the person and kind of where they are Um, you know, how, how far they’ve gotten into veganism and, I always tell people that they can go as slow as they need to go if they need to start with one animal food, and find replacements that they really like and that are satisfying for them. but continue to eat other things like cheese, for example. That it’s totally fine and there’s no judgment and there’s no rule about, you know, going vegan overnight.

Christine: Yes. Amen. There’s no vegan food police out there!

Angela: Absolutely. So it’s totally done in a non-judgmental way and just honoring, you know, what each individual really needs to make this transition. Um, and then I also just wanna say this principle is, about being able to develop interoceptive awareness, which is tuning into your body’s signals and cues, and specifically for hunger.

And part of this is being prepared to honor your hunger. So for new vegans, I would say, you know, try all the different vegan cheeses out there, for example, or, different vegan ice creams and plant based meats and things like that.

Make sure that you have things that you like in stock at home and make snacks with you, you know, make sure ahead of time that you’re going to have things that are satisfying to eat if you go out to eat or you know, or with other people socially. It’s really hard to respond to your hunger cues if you don’t have the food around.

Christine: That’s right! Especially for new vegans.

Angela: Right? Like, what am I gonna eat? what do I eat? Right? It’s like nature. You have to really do some planning and exploration with it. And so in the workbook they have this fun activity. It’s called, “Nutrition 9 1 1”, and there’s a little chart for writing down like your quick and easy meals and snacks so that you can really kind of refer back to that when you’re meal planning or grocery shopping or just digging through your pantry to see what you have available.

And I think, you know, just that preparation can really help, go along the way with this principle if you’re also a new vegan

Christine: Right. Oh, I love that, tip, because like it. Planning meals, especially now, Well, I have two kids now, it’s just a lot to just even think about what you’re gonna have and just to see a list of all the things that, you know, maybe you like and have tried before and can whip together easily: that sounds awesome!

And I love the part about transitioning that you mentioned, you know, that you can go slow and, and that’s a lot about what my blog is about as well is, is eliminating one animal product at a time.

Um, cuz I feel like in the vegan space sometimes we’re like, you know, you should be vegan right now, but I think that sets up a lot of people to essentially fail at the whole vegan thing because they go in so hard and it’s such a drastic change to what they’ve been eating, you know, for most of their life, probably!

And then they quit. And yeah, II just wanna tell anyone out there who’s thinking about veganism to, to not feel like you have to go all in, you know, take it slow, learn about the nutrition side of thing, so you can set yourself up or more sucess!

Angela: Yeah, definitely agree.

Christine: Number three, the principle number three says make peace with food. I can imagine many of your clients get scared with that principle. um, maybe they imagine that they’re going to eat, um, play foods, which is basically foods we eat for pleasure, but they might think they’re gonna eat, play foods all day.

So what would you tell a client who. A bit scared, like they can’t trust themselves when it comes to having food freedom.

Angela: Yeah, absolutely. This is a big hang up for a lot of people who aren’t in tune to intuitive eating, and especially people who have been kind of on that, restrict and binge cycle or the dieting and then just “feeling out of control” food cycle.

That’s been their whole experience with food, right? They’re either restricting or they’re feeling like they’re, you know, eating past comfortable fullness. They’re eating a lot of things that they were restricting. They just feel completely out of control with it, and that feels really scary.

And so what I tell people is that, That might happen for a while, and what we don’t wanna do is go back to the restriction because it’s gonna keep perpetuating that cycle. But you know, unconditional permission comes into it, giving yourself unconditional permission to eat all foods that you want to eat, including play foods like you said.

Starting to do, you know, some attunement to body cues. Am I hungry? You know, how much, um, do I want to eat to satisfy my hunger? How could I eat enough? All of those things kind of come into play while we’re doing this process, so it’s not just like, you’re on your own, let’s go ahead and just eat whatever you want. When you want it.

We can kind of do it in a systematic way, starting with one food. We’ll have kind of a, um, fear food list, and we can even rate them on a hierarchy of what foods are the scariest and what foods are maybe a little less scary. And we would start there with the less scary food so it doesn’t feel like such a big leap. And we would work with that one food for a while until they’re feeling comfortable with it.

Um, the process is called habituation is like the technical term for it, but that just means that having that food over and over again creates kind of like your brain trusting that that food is not going away, that you’re able to have it whenever you want it and it. and it Helps decrease that feeling of out of control-ness or scarcity around that food and eventually, it’s just kind of like you can take or leave that food, t’s not so activating, It’s not so stressful to eat it.

Christine: Yeah, you can keep them in your house. It’s fine!

Angela: Yea, it might mean keeping those foods in your house that when you might want to have them.

Christine: Yeah, I bet. When they, I don’t wanna say conquer cuz I’m sure that you know anybody can have a hard time with any principle, even intuitive eaters,

but like I, I can imagine it must feel good to just have your forbidden foods in your house and to, you know, not feel the urge to just eat them all the time. Cause I think that’s probably the number one thing people think about when they hear about Intuitive Eating. You know, I’m gonna eat all of my trigger foods, basically.

Angela: Yeah, that feels scary. Like why would I wanna do that? That doesn’t sound fun to me at all, because they see me feel bad about myself or I feel stressed out, or I feel physically ill when I eat this way. Really doing it with support can be helpful through the process.

And like you said, once, once they see that they can do it with one food, I think it helps build confidence.

Christine: yeah, a quick win!

Angela: yeah, and people just get excited about having some more food freedom and peace with food.

Christine: That’s awesome. And I’ll be sure to link, the workbook and the actual book below if anyone is interested. And let me see, we’re jumping over to number eight now, which is respect your body.

I wish that we could stop, you know, complimenting bodies. . Cause even though we might take it as a compliment, it’s, it’s, it’s just, I feel like a body is a body, and that doesn’t say anything about someone’s moral worth.

Angela: Yeah, absolutely right. You can be a wonderful, compassionate advocate for animals in any size body no matter what. And it, it just doesn’t have any, you know, the way that you look has no standing on your inherent worth as a human being. And it’s unfortunate that, you know, some vegans might feel or potential vegan curious might feel kind of marginalized or pushed out like they don’t belong because they might be in a larger body or they don’t feel like they fit the stereotype.

Christine: Exactly, yes.
Principle 10. So we’re skipping ahead again because I just picked out some principles I thought would be most applicable to vegans and principle 10 is “Honor your Health with Gentle Nutrition.”

So this section kind of talks about some general nutrition… things essentially. And it also mentions about eating fish, um, as a healthy protein source, I think it was.

Obviously vegans do not eat fish! In your practice, do vegans have an issue with this principle, or what do you tell them when they come across this bit?

Angela: Before, you know, if I’m working with a vegan client and we’re kind of going through the Intuitive Eating workbook together, I might kind of caveat before they get to this chapter that, you know, and we do, we do some checking in first.

Are they ready to talk about, or, you know, read about gentle nutrition because this can be a really tough thing for people who are, chronic dieters or healing from an eating disorder, you know? its more things that they could potentially turn into rules, right? And like, Oh, well this, this is a healthy way to eat, so I should be eating like this.

So we really kind of do a check in by a kinda caveat that this is general advice, and it’s definitely not going to be specific to vegan nutrition. So if they have any questions, we can talk about it together. We can also do kind of more personalized nutrition counseling around any of their concerns.

So the fish example I think is, you know, probably like you said, a protein source and in therefore maybe like the essential omega-3 fatty acids. People tend to like, think that’s the only source of them, but there are plant-based ones. So I would counsel my client on getting plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids, for example.

So,, that is something that can come up is just vegans feeling like, well, these don’t really apply to me.

Christine: Right? Yeah, that’s why it, you know, if you can, if you really wanna work with a dietitian, they can help to kind of tailor the nutrition piece for you. So, that’s where we really shine!

Any other special considerations for vegans, with that gentle nutrition principle?

Angela: So, I guess kinda just, you know, reiterating what I said, vegans will really wanna kind of read this chapter with a grain of salt, knowing that it’s not going to be specific to vegan nutrition, it’s just very general, general nutrition.

So they might wanna look at it from the lens of how can I meet my nutrition needs from plant-based sources or vegan sources. And you know, just like you said, we’re probably both really biased, but I think working with a vegan friendly registered dietitian here is really helpful. If there are any specific nutrition questions, if somebody has a chronic illness and they want some medical nutrition therapy around that, you know that that’s what we’re here for, so I offer support for my clients that way.

And I think also, you know, another consideration for gentle nutrition is just not turning both veganism or Intuitive Eating into another diet or set of goals.

So coming at it from, you know: what can I add to my meals? Am I eating enough? Am I meeting both my nutrition needs and getting satisfaction and pleasure from my meals?

Christine: Right. And so, we’re getting closer to the end here. Just a few more questions I have. I’m wondering if there are any resources that you know of specifically for vegans who are interested in Intuitive Eating? Yeah,

Angela: Yeah, absolutely. So I am not a prolific blogger at least yet, but I do have one blog post on my website.

Um, it’s called Veganism and a Non Diet Approach to Nutrition. So, you know, basically, summarizing some of the things that we’ve talked about here today.

And then our fellow dietitian, vegan dietitian, Taylor Wolfram-she has a ton of resources on her website. She’s got blogs, videos, and she even has an anti diet, vegan nutrition course.

So, I wanna definitely plug her because she just has a lot of really great, informative resources available.

And there are other vegan dietitians out there who talk about intuitive eating. I link to some in my blog posts that I have on my website. There are different kind of related posts that I linked to, so that’s another source as well.

Christine: Awesome. Well, yeah, we’ll definitely link to your blog post and then Taylor! Yeah, I just started following her I think a couple months ago. So shout out. Any other things you want to add about veganism, Intuitive eating?

Angela: I can’t think of much else that, you know, we didn’t cover. But if, people have any questions and they wanna, you know, contact me, they can go to my website.

I have a contact form, they can contact me on my Instagram page. You know, if specific questions came up around our conversation today.

Christine: I’ll link to those below as well in the show notes

Christine: And then a very last question’s, kind of a fun one. At this very moment right now, what if you could eat anything in the world, what would you eat and who would you eat it with in the vegan community? Who is currently alive?

Angela: Oh my gosh. Tough question. So what food right now, just because, um, you know, the cooler days and the change of seasons and everything, I’ve really been chili and soups and things like that.

Christine: Mhhm yeah, me too.

Angela: Yeah, I’m really excited for soup season. Who would I eat it with? I’ve always wanted to meet, um, Ginny Messina in person. She is a vegan, registered dietitian. She’s been in the field, a long time and she was kind of one of my inspirations for getting into the nutrition field. Like she was kind of the only vegan dietitian out there that I could find who was blogging and writing about vegan nutrition from just an evidence based, non-restrictive way and, really intelligent and just a lot of resources for vegans.

So I’d love to just chat with her about her career trajectory and anything vegan that comes up, I guess?

Christine: Yeah, I was just listening to her do an interview on the (plant) Proof Podcast and it was so amazing and she’s so inspirational. So if Ginny is out there listening to this, please come on to this podcast cuz that would be incredible!

Definitely check out Angela’s website, which we will link below and her Instagram as well. And thank you Angela, for your service to the nutrition world and to the vegan community.

Angela: Thanks so much Christine!

Christine: Wow. That was a really awesome conversation I had with Angela!

As a reminder, you can learn more about Intuitive Eating and schedule a one-on-one consult with Angela via her website, angela

That’s A N G E L A R D N .com. Angela is also on Instagram at Angela W _ nutrition.

Please check out the show notes or go to to find all the books and other resources we mentioned in this episode.

And finally, if you enjoy this episode, please subscribe and give it a five star rating on Apple Podcast. Maybe I’ll even shout you and your comment out in our next episode!

Until next time, may the fork be with you.

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