It’s the eating plan that’s seriously in vogue: no meat, no dairy – just healthy, wholesome vegan meals and snacks.
But while eliminating processed foods and oodles of red meat, cheese and cream can probably only be a good thing, veganism can also be associated with orthorexia: a potentially damaging fixation on ‘clean’ eating.
One young woman who is a testament to that link is Jordan Younger, a 25-year-old blogger and author who boasts some 125,000 Instagram followers.
“The obsession with my diet took up my every waking hour,” Ms Younger told the New York Post this week. “It was stopping me from leading a normal life full of social activities and other interests.”
At 1.63cm tall, at her lowest she weighed just 47.5kg. She explains that while this isn’t “skeletal,” she was nevertheless “textbook example of an orthorexic”.
A native of LA, Ms Younger became vegan in her final year of college, not because of ethical reasons to protect animals, but after experiencing undiagnosed abdominal issues.
“In the beginning, it was very cleansing and detoxing, and I had this rush of adrenaline,” she says.
However, she soon found that she was exhausted all the time. That and her bloating and constipation issues returned. Still, she continued to follow her strict regimen and was compelled to religiously post everything she ate on her popular Blonde Vegan blog, which she kicked off shortly after graduation.
That pattern could have proved fatal, but her turning point came in June 2014 when she admitted to a friend that her periods had stopped.
The pal, who had also suffered from orthorexia, recommended she reintroduce fish into her diet. Within a week of eating a small portion of salmon, Jordan was menstruating again.
A dietician later confirmed that fish and eggs would boost her poor nutrient levels. Not wanting to lie to her fans, Ms Younger announced on the Blonde Vegan that she was “transitioning away from veganism.”
And that’s when all hell broke loose. Her site crashed and thousands of followers ditched her. She also received anonymous death threats. “It was shocking,” recalls Jordan.
Still, two months later, she relaunched as The Balanced Blonde, which now features a wider-ranging choice of tips and recipes.
“These days I live without a label, which is much more freeing,” she explains. She doesn’t even know her current weight, but considers herself a healthy size.
“I still eat a lot of fruit and vegetables and smoothies, but also fish, eggs and sometimes red meat.”
She even tucked into pizza and pasta on a recent trip to Italy. “Now I’m all about balance,” she says.
Jordan Younger is also the author of Breaking Vegan: One Woman's Journey From Veganism, Extreme Dieting, And Orthorexia To A More Balanced Life, priced at £12.99 from amazon.co.uk