Those of you who have been following me for some time either on Facebook or Instagram probably know that I am a big supporter of The Balanced Blond. Formerly known as The Blonde Vegan, Jordan has been a big inspiration for my own journey through social media and she has really been at the forefront of the movement towards ‘walking the talk’ and owning your truth in the face of social media and social judgement. Even before Jordan began her “truth journey” she was well known in the community and her presence in social media experienced an exponentially fast growth!
Her previous name and account, The Blonde Vegan, had hundreds of thousands of followers- watching and supporting Jordan through her vegan lifestyle- and quite literally liking every post of every raw, vegan meal and fruit-less green juice. There was something about Jordan’s energy and overall message that captured the attention of many, many people around the world. In the social media health and wellness world- she was well known. No matter where I traveled to, people knew who she was and were following her. In fact, many of them were even rocking her The Blonde Vegan Appparel.
The thing is, although Jordan created the image and sense of a very happy blonde vegan, there was something happening behind closed doors.
Jordan was struggling with orthorexia. Her life revolved around restriction, fear, avoidance and safety. She had developed a name for herself, an image to follow- and a blueprint of which she followed exactly. This particular blueprint was one that had the surface image of health and wellness: plant-based, living, raw, healthy, nourishing foods. As well, Jordan was very active and maintained an avid practice of yoga, running and being active. The thing is, there was nothing outside of this lifestyle. Nothing else was allowed. Jordan completely restricted herself from sugar (even fruit) and created rules that were close to impossible to live by in the normal world.
Although, from the surface, Jordan’s life seemed perfect- on the inside, she was alone, she was filled with stress and anxiety and was carrying a very painful secret- she was ill and suffering from an eating disorder.
One day, Jordan finally decided to come clean with her secret- she was struggling from orthorexia and a large part of her eating disorder involved the restrictive patterns of her vegan diet. If she was somewhere where the options were limited and she couldn’t find something on the menu or shelves without animal products- she would just not eat. If she found herself at a juice bar that made green juices with fruit- she wouldn’t’ get it. Fruit, sugar and animal products were ‘bad’ in her eyes, and Jordan would rather starve than fill her body with the ‘toxic’ products.
When Jordan ‘came out’ with her story and began speaking honestly about her experiences- I very much related. Partly in my own experiences, and partly in the patterns I witnessed while I was studying to become a Holistic Nutritionist. The eating disorder, orthorexia, is incredibly common now a days- and I would most definitely say that it has a lot to do with the rising ‘trend’ of healthy foods. It’s as if diets and weight-loss programs and communities such as Jenny Craig, fat-free, and Atkins had transitioned into the a new community- maintaining the practice of restrictive eating, and wearing the image of lifestyle wellness and balance.
The thing is, because Jordan’s journey and transition was so attached to the word ‘vegan’, she became the target of a lot of hatred and misunderstanding of who she was and what her message is.
One of the most shocking parts of Jordan’s story was she was receiving a lot hatred, attack and negativity from a community whose foundation is based in protecting living beings and living a life of compassion. It really shows that it is important to get outside of ourselves and our missions every now and then to see and witness the effects of what we are doing. I absolutely feel passionate about protecting our world and supporting movements, projects and initiatives that protect mother nature and her animals. Does that mean that we should hurt each other in the process? I don’t think so. We are all evolving and have our own journeys to live- we must approach with compassion and move forward in our own lives to inspire change. Nothing ever happens when you try to force change upon others. The message is and has been clear,
Be the change that you wish to see in the world. -Mahatma Gandhi
Since Jordan ‘came out’ it has become clear that this entire subject is incredibly complex and a difficult topic to speak on. It seems as though everyone has an opinion; a lot of which are quite extreme and weighted with judgment, fear and anger. Unfortunately, as a result, Jordan received a lot of backlash, judgment and threats from the vegan community- sending messages and emails filled with hate towards her decision to speak openly about her struggles and to begin setting restriction aside and eating a variety of foods- including meat products. To a certain degree- it seemed as though her vegan community felt betrayed by Jordan’s choices.
For me, Jordan has been a true image of strength and courage. I can absolutely relate to her initial feelings when she began posting non-vegan meals; I experience similar emotions whenever I post something with eggs or fish. I can only imagine the magnitude of her emotions, considering I have a fraction of the amount of followers that she did/has and my name is not attached to the vegan community. Although I do eat mostly animal-friendly, I do sometimes eat eggs and seafood. The thing is, every time I post a meal that is non-vegan, I lose followers, almost immediately.
In the social media world- losing a follower is similar to feeling like you’ve lost a friend or a supporter. Suddenly, someone who liked you- no longer does.
When you think of it like that, you realize that the social media world is truly an extension of human society. You are putting yourself out there and your creations out there- to either be accepted, liked and followed, or rejected and disliked. This may not be a conscious activity- however it totally mimics social society and the actions that take place. The pressure and judgement adds up, and it’s these situations that can cause a lot of pain and destruction in our society- ostracising someone and attacking them based on their lifestyle choices.
What I’ve found in my own experience, is that with eating- restriction and avoidance can very much create an ‘eating disorder’ mentality. In my practice and business- I always talk and write about the psychology of eating. Through my own journey I have learnt that labeling food as ‘bad’ or ‘cheating’ creates a negative thought and attachment to the food and the act of eating. When it comes to the psychology and your body’s response- attaching negative thoughts to something will most likely create a state of stress in your body. This stress is what supports your body’s natural inflammatory response- thus, you will not digest properly, you will not assimilate nutritients properly and you are more likely to experience inflammation.
With eating, it’s something you do everyday, at least 3 times a day. So why ever look at eating as cheating? When you remove yourself from the space and think about it, it seems completely crazy that we look at eating certain foods as bad or cheating. Fair enough, eating a bucket of ice cream and a large pizza everyday probably isn’t going to make you feel great. However, you are most likely going to do this more often if you restrict yourself from it or look at the act of eating it as cheating. We’re humans- we like and want things that we can’t have.
So have your ice cream and pizza if you crave them- and figure out what your values are individually based on your own journey and experimentation to figure out what works for you. There is no one size fits all or one general, global rule. For me: I eat mostly a plant-based diet and always try my best to eat high quality, local, seasonal and fresh ingredients. Organic is important to me and as much as I can- I will only eat organic. From home, it’s not an issue. I’m not a meat-eater and very rarely eat eggs and seafood (again I eat what is generally known as a vegan diet). However, when people ask me if I am vegan I usually say that I eat similarly to what people refer to as a vegan diet but that I eat food, high quality, mostly organic and always plant-based, with the rare meal of fish or eggs. There are times when I eat pizza too!
I practice never looking at food as bad or wrong, and instead always try to eat what I am craving and connecting with my body to understand it’s messages and signs. From my own experiences with eating disorders- I know first hand that the journey of perfection, restriction and control is a slippery slope and a road that can take you to incredible darkness and imbalance. Simply put, it’s not living.
So, when you think of it like that- you can begin to understand how intense and painful it can feel when your lifestyle and choices are rejected.
It feels as if you’ve done something wrong, like you’re not good enough and like you are alone.
Fortunately, Jordan has managed to get through these times (most likely as a result of her strength and incredible support group surrounding her), because many times- it’s not the case. This situation, commonly referred to cyber bulleying, can very often result in a very tragic ending.
I could continue writing about this forever, but I feel it is time to say…stay tuned, and encourage you to grab a copy of Jordan’s new book, Breaking Vegan, to read more about her story. I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my pre-ordered book! Also, I am even more excited to finally meet Jordan (in the flesh) at the Summit at Sea event, which I will be attending in just a few days!
This social media/world is small, and it’s so important that we love, encourage and accept each other for who we are, what we do and the decisions we make. As humans, we are entitled to growth and it is part of our nature to change and evolve. What works for one, may not work for another- and diversity is a part of what makes human society so beautiful. When you begin to look at the ways that we judge each other through social media- it goes to show that we are still very much stuck in this place of judgment. Yes, the vegan community is growing and there are many people out there who have dedicated their lives to protecting and preserving mother nature and her amazing animals. This is not to say that we have all evolved. And the thing is, there tends to be a bit of an oxymoron taking place- when we love and protect animals and in contrast- judge and hate fellow humans.
It really is time for everyone to walk their talk. I am a big animal lover- and don’t eat animal products, but that does not mean that I am better than Jordan or that what I am doing is right and what she is doing is wrong. There is no right or wrong way to live- and it’s important that we remember that the next time we see someone doing or practicing something different to us. Difference and change make us uncomfortable- however,
I truly believe that where there is discomfort, there is space to learn, grow and evolve.
So let’s do that.
With that, I will leave the rest to Jordan. She was kind enough to answer a few of my burning questions. I hope this post and Q&A leaves you excited to learn more and grab a copy of Jordan’s book!
Stay tuned for lots of photos and posts from Summit at Sea!
What are the greatest changes that you’ve observed since deciding to follow your truth and share your story?
“That is such a great question! I find that sharing our authentic selves and what we are passionate about at our very core is so, so, so much more fulfilling than trying to fit a certain mold and blog/write/speak/think about something that you think you “should” feel. Toward the end of my plant-based vegan journey, I felt very much like I was just going through the motions. I was a voice for veganism on the Internet, and even though I knew deep down that my body needed more variety and that my soul was ready to make a shift, I rejected it for a long time because on my Internet presence and this innate duty I felt to be unchanging. I felt that I HAD to remain the same, because I had slapped a label on my diet and the lifestyle I was choosing to live. Now, I realize that people’s lives are such an ebb and flow– we are allowed to CHANGE and evolve and develop overtime, and I realize more than ever how important it is to love one another and support each other through those journeys. Health is not a one-size fits all diet or lifestyle, and neither is LIFE!! Life is meant to be enjoyed to the fullest, and I think every individual person should do whatever it takes to help them squeeze the very most out of every aspect of these beautiful lives we lead.”
What would you say to someone who is experiencing resistance right now in relation to a fear attached to food (for example, sticking to labels). What is the one thing you would say to them to help them overcome their fear and anxiety?
“Listen to your body! Learn to trust your body! Trust is absolutely huge. Once we learn to trust our bodies, we can listen to them and nourish them properly. And if we trust what we are feeling, then we are more likely to be true to ourselves in all areas of our lives — in our relationships and interactions, our work life, our exercise and passions, and more.
And as far as body image goes: see yourself from someone else’s eyes. Drop the judgement. Fall in love with yourself. Pick a mantra.
(More advice in the book… SO MUCH MORE! I’m wordy, lol.)
What do you worry about? What keeps you up at night? What stresses you out on a regular basis?
“Oh gosh, so much. I am a VERY analytical person, so everything that could possibly be overthought gets highly overthought in my head. Especially in the middle of the night! I am a perfectionist and hold myself and everything I do to a very high standard. Things I get stressed out about routinely are work, my clothing line and book doing as well as they possibly can, putting enough content onto the blog and how well-done and aesthetically pleasing and informative and new that content is, exercising every day, putting my all into my relationships… All that jazz! Also, I am highly sensitive, so I take in other people’s energies and stressors too. That’s why I try to surround myself with positive, likeminded, beautiful spirits. They really help me stay grounded!! So does meditation and yoga. I need that sh*t.”
What emotions do you experience when you post photos/written posts that are outside of the strict-vegan lifestyle (aka meat, dairy & sugar)? (Have these emotions disappeared or evolved since you opened up to the social media world last summer)?
“Honestly, in the beginning I wondered if it would always be this crazy, hard, emotional thing to post photos of non-vegan food and also to eat non-vegan food! In the beginning I felt every emotion under the sun from fear to guilt to triumph to pride because of all of the different phases of recovery / change and whatnot… Now I honestly just feel normal about it. It’s my life. I know I am allowed to do whatever I please. The haters don’t bother me, and I realize that my opinion is not the same as the next person. We are all different and that’s what makes us beautiful. I choose to eat the way that I do for my health, wellbeing and happiness. Posting photos of my daily life, including food, is so routine to me now that nothing really phases me as it used to!”
In the movie of your life, who would play you?
“OMG this is the best question ever!!!! I am a huge Sienna Miller fan, so she would be at the top of my list. Reese Witherspoon is another favorite, and if we were going with a younger version of me, Dakota Fanning in a heartbeat.”
Thank you Jordan for taking the time to be a part of the Countertop community and sharing some love and insight. I am so inspired and moved by your courage and strength, as you continue to push the limits, break the barriers and really inspire truth and balanced living around the world. Your presence is absolutely appreciated and heard- and I cannot wait to finally meet you!
Everyone, check out Jordan’s website, instagram and youtube channel for more balanced living inspiration to learn more about her upcoming projects including a Sisterhood retreat in Costa Rica (co-hosted with one of my best buddies, Emily Nolan) and many more exciting things to come!
Of course most of all, grab your copy of Jordan’s brand new first book, Breaking Vegan, here now and get started on learning about her story! It really is so beautiful, raw, and true- just like Jordan!