I’ve read more times than I care to remember that eating disorders and vegetarianism go together and shallowing-thinking journalists seem to like to think that people get the idea of vegetarianism into their head and then become anorexic– i.e. develop a generalized aversion to food.
I think the direction of causation is reversed. People with an aversion to food for reasons unrelated to the principles of vegetarianism label themselves as vegetarians because vegan and vegetarianism have some degree of acceptability and merit, while anorexia is rightly condemned as a mental disorder.
When it comes to making basic changes in fundamental areas of lifestyle, people are so resistant to change that they are willing to entertain all levels of logical lapses and nonsense to keep eating what they ate yesterday at all costs.
And on the topic of food aversions and food phobias, we should remember episodes like the draconian measures taken in England to deal with mad cow disease– where entire herds were slaughtered for fear of a disease that was probably less common that other food chain problems like salmonella or e coli. So if we accept that fear of food is a phenomena, then it shouldn’t be surprising that some percent of people who fear food in general end up as vegetarians. After all, I can leave out a vegetarian entrée on the counter overnight and eat it the next day and not have to worry much, but I’d worry to do the same thing with a pound of pork or fish. It’s just a lot harder to screw up vegetarian food to the point where it’s not safe to eat.