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Lately, I’ve been feeling the pressure of existing as a fat, body positive person and a vegan. Food consumption is not the only element of veganism, but it is a major part of it. Discussions surrounding what you put in your body are always policed when fat, which is a societal habit that more and more are speaking up against. Yet, by running a platform where I focus largely on food, in some ways I feel that I am contributed to diet culture, which is insanely toxic and not my goal. In this article, I hope to discuss the impact of diet culture, why and how my veganism is striving to not contribute to it, and why weight loss should not be associated with veganism.
Diet culture is toxic.
We see that in the way diet supplements, gym memberships, and other weight-oriented products and services are packaged and sold to us. The final result for all of these are bodies that just aren’t fat. I don’t need to explain the perception of being fat and why nobody wants to be that, but the conversation that needs to take place is why body positivity is anti-diet culture and why that’s okay.
Let’s just get this out the way: fat is not always the cause of illness. There are horror stories of fat people getting misdiagnosed by their doctors because even medical professionals seem to think this way. This is not to say that fat people cannot be sick, but there is no logic in designating every fat person as ill. That tends to be the major argument when people are attacked for their fatness. So when diets are pushed on fat people as the cure to all of their issues, this creates yet another problem: eating disorders. In fact, weight loss dieting is the number one cause of eating disorders. It’s an unhealthy cycle of misinformation that is harmful and potentially lethal.
Veganism is not a diet.
Again, food is a large part of this culture and yes, weight loss might be a result of it, but veganism is not just eliminating animal products from your meals to lose weight. Veganism involves a deeper understanding of the consequences of not doing so. Animal liberation, anti-speciesism, and food justice are just some of the many elements that can make up veganism.
When people choose to associate veganism with weight loss, it is supporting the perception that vegans are in it to lose weight or that it will be a result of it. To take up a plant-based diet would be the right way to describe those who choose to take up “veganism” for weight loss because it specifically acknowledges the diet. However, plant-based dieting will always be associated with veganism, creating a difficulty in effectively creating a body positive space within the culture. There’s even more difficulty involved when popular vegan figures mostly represent one kind of body type, and it’s rarely ever a fat one.
Let’s not ignore the struggle of transitioning to veganism.
From changing everyday meals to temptations to supplements, there is a lot of emotional, financial, and physical strain when transitioning to veganism. Without access to the right knowledge and guidance, there could be serious consequences as a result of making this switch. In my own experience, I regret not slowly transitioning into veganism with a mentor to help me. I felt hungry and weak before I understood that I needed to supplement the vitamins I was no longer eating through non-vegan foods. Taking up veganism is a privilege in so many ways.
My veganism never fat shames.
As a fat person, I am incredibly conscious of the impact of fat shaming. Amongst other ways I approach veganism, I keep my content free from language that may insinuate weight loss methods or diet culture in general. Hopefully, by the aforementioned, it is clear why I choose not to use this language; it being an incredibly toxic association with fat people. My goal is to create a space in this big vegan culture where fat people can see themselves. Veganism is packaged yet again in a very glorious way, highlighting people with unrealistic bodies and eating habits. Veganism is packaged in an unrealistic way, in general. My hope is by sharing my perspective, I am opening up opportunities for others to consider how they can improve their activism while also inspiring other fat people to take up veganism in a safe and healthy way.
The Bronx Vegan is a blog run by Puerto Rican and Peruvian Bronxite, Alexis Montoya. This blog aims to highlight vegan resources in and around The Bronx through recipes, reviews and more. If you like what you read, please consider tipping below! All tips will be put towards vegan efforts to share with the world.