How Healthy Is Healthy Enough? How Vegan Is Vegan Enough?

How Healthy Is Healthy Enough? How Vegan Is Vegan Enough?
Heather Nicholds, C.H.N.


I’ve had a lot of great conversations over the last month in all my travels and meetings with people.

Two questions have come to mind lately, especially after reading posts by my friends Dreena Burton and JL Fields:

How healthy is healthy enough? And how vegan is vegan enough?

JL started a forum topic for these 2 questions here, and a few years ago my friend Ricki Heller wrote about her way of eating.

Both of these questions can lead us down a path of trying to be perfect. I’ve posted about perfection before, and how I think there’s no such thing as ‘perfect’ and that I strive to have a healthy, happy and stress-free life.

photo credit Laura L.

How Healthy Is Healthy Enough?

I was talking to my friend Christy Morgan recently about different health goals, and how people who are looking for different end results are going to have very different ideas about what healthy eating means.

For instance, someone concerned only with longevity – how many years they live – might look at calorie restriction and doing things that minimize the impact on their bodies.

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Then someone interested in athletic performance – whether it’s running a race, building a lot of muscle or performing better at a sport – is going to be aiming to get enough calories for fuel and enough protein for muscle growth.

Fertility is another health goal – having babies. In order to have a body that will support creating life, someone would need to make sure they have proper nutrients and nourishment, vitamins and minerals along with healthy fats and whatever they need to keep their hormones in balance.

So those are 3 very different views of health, and when you compare them how can you say what’s healthy enough?

To a certain extent, I think healthy is somewhat subjective. There are some basics that are generally accepted as healthy, but for myself personally I look for balance and being happy.

If I’m not happy, for me there’s no point being healthy. I want to be able to enjoy my life and whatever I want to do in it, so that’s the bottom line for me.

I’ve found my balance, and I’m happy where I am. My concern is more often whether other people think I’m too healthy.

I do a lot of things that might seem crazy to some people, like eating fruit for a treat rather than cookies, but for me it’s just about feeling good.

I find it easy to choose the healthy options because they’re the ones that make me feel energized and happy.

Have you found your balance in feeling healthy?

How Vegan Is Vegan Enough?

This is a topic that I haven’t refined my opinion on quite as much because for a long time I wouldn’t have called myself ‘vegan’. I would more likely say ‘I eat a vegan diet’.

So I obviously didn’t feel like I was vegan enough – even though I try my best to avoid products that were made of or involved other animal exploitation.

Another aspect of not feeling vegan enough is that I came to veganism from an environmental perspective, and social justice implications (i.e. Fair trade) were really important to me as well.

When I learned about the environmental impacts of animal agriculture, that’s what pushed me to reduce and eliminate animal foods and products.

That doesn’t mean that animal cruelty and exploitation isn’t important to me, it just wasn’t the first issue to push me in a vegan direction.

It has become more and more important to me over time, but because the definition of vegan is to avoid animal exploitation as much as possible and practical, I felt like I wasn’t vegan enough if my first motivation was the environment.

And while I do try to live as a vegan, my motivations are broader and I find myself being concerned about issues beyond animal cruelty – like the impact of plastic production on human health in poor areas.

I also don’t know everything – about being vegan and about being environmentally sustainable and so many other issues that are important to me – so I’m always going to be learning more and I don’t think I’ll ever know it all.

So does that make me not vegan enough? I don’t know. Or not environmentally-sustainable enough?

How I Care Without Going Crazy

So I don’t really have any definitive answers. I haven’t figured out the ultimate answer on any of these questions.

But here’s what I tell myself – if I drive myself totally crazy and self-destruct, I’m not doing anyone any good.

If I focus on what I can do, and what impact I can have, for myself and what I share with others (in my life and here with you guys), that’s how I can make a positive difference.

So I try not to drive myself crazy, and always learn more and try to do my best but also be happy with myself.

That’s where I find my balance – and I would love to hear what you think on all this. These are big questions, and I don’t think there are any ‘answers’ but if we all share our thoughts maybe we’ll come up with some collective wisdom 🙂


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