Vegans of Color

Because we don’t have the luxury of being single-issue

Veg*n Is Not Synonymous with Thin, Nor Should It Be March 23, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — johanna @ 2:20 am

I just heard about this blog, This Is Why You’re Fat, which features “deliciously gross” food that a lot of readers apparently feel repulsed by but simultaneously want to eat (all while being fatphobic!).

Now the author of Vegan Lunch Box has started a blog called This Is Why You’re Thin to feature people getting excited about healthy, plant-based foods.

The excitement about veg*n food is a good thing, obviously. Imitating the fatphobia of the original blog? Not a good thing at all. Not to mention veg*n doesn’t automatically mean thin (& it shouldn’t).

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28 Responses to “Veg*n Is Not Synonymous with Thin, Nor Should It Be”

  1. Sarra Says:

    Thank you for posting this. I wish I had an intelligent – or even intelligible – reply, but trying to put my response into words would just produce furious howling and sputtering.

  2. Sarra Says:

    OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE. Do you see the picture on the “Blah Blah Thin” page? Does she seriously need that naked-except-for-fruit female exploitation photo up there? REALLY? Don’t we get enough of that bullshit from PeTA?

    Sorry for all the swearing. Should have stopped with my first comment. ;)

  3. meerkat Says:

    I know! Obviously I am sleepwalking to a 24-hour McDonald’s every night, because I am way too fat to be vegan.

  4. Mark Says:

    I stopped reading her blog, which I used to like a lot, when she was praising “Pringles” and giving them to her kid for lunch. Hardly “nutrient-dense” food as the blog was designed to promote.

    After writing the above, went to her blog and noted a recent lunch incorporating FRIED organic corn chips and high-fat vegan nacho chip.

    …now THAT’S why vegan kids can be fat.

  5. veganswines Says:

    I agree. Eversince I am vegan (since 12 years) I put on weight for the first time with feeling good and okay about gaining that weight, because this additional weight came from eating vegan, and that means eating with a mostly clear conscience and eating pretty healthy stuff.

    Maybe the tendency in people to want to be/stay/go extremely skinny, subconciously has something to do with a bad conscience. I believe most people today do know in the backs (or fronts) of their minds, that from an ethical point of view, something is fundamentally wrong with the eating of animal “products” (flesh and milk, etc.).

  6. D Says:

    I agree that it seems very looksist. If the focus were on health instead of appearance, I could get behind it. Better yet, focus on compassion.

  7. meera Says:

    Yeah, I can understand the idea but would be comfortable if it was named “This is Why You’re Healthy!” or Happy! or something less…causal.

  8. I have seriously mixed feelings about this kind of stuff. While I don’t want to fat shame or encourage fatphobia, the “I want to lose weight” audience is huge and clearly willing to listen to the vegan message (eg: Skinny Bitch).

    Here are some of my thoughts in no particular order:
    – Excess fat can be a sign of poor health. It’s strongly correlated with heart disease and diabetes. However, I’m not certain it’s fair to call obesity a disease in itself. (Though for legal and social purposes it may make sense to call it a disability,)
    – Excess fat is of a larger health concern for men than for women, yet the weight loss message is more often directed at women and is often sexist.
    – Fat people are explicitly shunned in our society and that’s not right or fair.
    – The truth is: vegans and vegetarians do tend to be thinner, though there are of course exceptions, like all generalizations. And we shouldn’t hide the truth.
    – There are tremendous social pressures to eat the way fat people eat. The fact that obesity is so common is evidence of a social cause, not so much a personal choice. And for that reason, we ought to target the causes: lack of healthy food options, lack of nutrition education, food marketing, etc.
    – I have to admit, I’m glad a vegan advocate who knows about good health and nutrition is doing the “This Is Why You’re Thin” blog because it could have become a pro-ana blog of thinspiration.

  9. Anna Says:

    It’s easy to gain weight on a vegan diet, and it’s dishonest to pretend otherwise. Oil, salt and sugar are all vegan (or can be), which is why we can reproduce omni dishes so well. Honestly, I can gain weight easily with non-refined vegan foods (dried fruit, nuts, grains, anyone?). I’m in it for compassionate reasons.

  10. abyssal Says:

    I agree 100%. I am completely frustrated by the vegan=thin concept. It’s simply not true, at least for some of us. I’m glad I’m not the only one who is pissed off about the “This is Why You’re Thin” blog. Schmoo’s mom apparently needs another hobby.

  11. Alicia Says:

    I agree totally. When people find out I’m vegan they always say “well that’s why you’re so thin”. No…I’m thin because I run 30 miles a week, do yoga, pilates and other strength training. Being vegan doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be thin. In fact, I was at my highest weight ever while vegan.

  12. Claire Says:

    thanks for this link, although now i can’t stop internet-fighting over there. i really liked the suggestion someone had to change the blog name to “this is why you’re fit”.

  13. D Says:

    I’m sorry to leave this comment here, but I haven’t found any other way to contact y’all.

    Did you hear about Ringling doing “ethnically targeted mailings”? Anyone have any idea which ethnicities they are targeting? Has anyone received one of these mailings?

    http://animalrights.about.com/b/2009/03/24/circuses-elephants-and-ethnically-targeted-mailings.htm

  14. Renee Says:

    When I wrote about this site one of things that I focused on was the degree of fat hate that it promotes. It seeks to push the idea that people are fat because they are routinely gluttonous and refuses to make a connection with obesity and class. There is a reason why there are so many who are poor are over weight. It further does not make allowances for those that have medical conditions that lead to weight retention. The whole purpose of this site is to fat shame.

  15. Joselle Says:

    Meh, I lost almost 50 pounds eating tons of animals. I gained some of that weight back when I went vegetarian and then vegan. I have a tendency to gain weight unless I severely restrict my caloric intake, which is why I am a vegan Weight Watchers member! Of course, if all I ate were leaves, I’m sure I’d lose weight easily but I’d also be starving all the time and that’s not a life I’d like to live.

  16. Maho Says:

    Thank you for the information. Totally agree. I am not comfortable with the idea that “vegan is thin” either. I do think vegan is healthy (and conscious). I am not thin, but my health is better than ever since I became vegan. And I am very happy. So I am not comfortable with such simple perspective.

  17. [...] well…”politics of language” aside, hopefully it’ll inspire folks to eat healthier if nothing else! [...]

  18. Alex Says:

    I disagree. The subtitle of the blog specifies what the blog’s intent is: advocate for healthy vegan alternatives. “Thin” in the title is rhetorical. It came in response to another blog, as you noted. Given that her use of the word “thin” isn’t literal, I think that her more explicit message is sound and therefore necessary – a plant-based diet is healthier than alternatives.
    Since “thin” isn’t literal, the equation – veganism = thin – seems to be yours.

    She may not be cognizant of cultural assumptions about “thin-ness” means “good” – thin is a goal to be strived for. However, even within this framework, I see very little to criticize given the reactionary nature of the blog.

  19. veganswines Says:

    What type of “meat”-eater does a vegan try to attract when they outwardly state “you are (potentially) fat and unhealthy as a meat eater, I am (most likely or poentially) thin and healthy as a vegan” but when at the same time this rhetorical reaction (meaning the blog name pun) stands for: you are kind of stupid and I am kind of intelligent.

    What does creating an antagonism help? An antagonism serves to make the opposed side look stupid, but simply deriding the other doesn’t reach the core point.

    Most flesh eaters I come across consciously eat animal bodies, and that’s where the problem lies. I can surely not convince them of the importance of adapting a vegan lifestyle when I prima facie assume that they are not making “informed” decisions – even if they are making falsely (…) informed decisions.

    What I want to say is: I personally believe it needs real arguments to confront “meat”-eaters. And there are more than endless good arguments for veganism.

  20. me Says:

    Thanks so much for posting this – whilst I do not want to say anything negative about the creator of vegan lunchbox, and now, ‘this is why you’re thin’ – I think that there are a lot of problems with this new blog.

    Firstly, one can be an ethical vegan and still enjoy food.

    One can be a commited and ethical vegan and be overweight. Being overweight is not the same thing as unhealthy. The majority of medical reserach now demonstrates that an overweight and normal weight person who exercise the same amount (and have the same health risk factors) live to about the same age. The idea that thin=healthy is outdated, not to mention dangerous (with skyrocketing bulimia and anorexia rates in the west).

    Is this what veganism is about, tricking people into not eating meat by playing into their (sexist and unhealthy) fears about being anything but the size 0? I sincerely hope not.

    I suspect that many vegans have issues with their bodies, we are like anyone else. Blogs like these encourage and play into these fears for us too – I see many comments saying “I am not thin, does this mean I am not a vegan!?”.

    Vegan lunchbox was fantastic – personally, to me, most of the food was not stuff that I wanted to eat, but it was fun and funny and interesting to see these detailed little mainstream vegan lunches. Like most people, I watched on with interest.

    This blog on the other hand is sexist, sizist, and plays into the West’s obsession with appearance and body image. It is uninformed (thin does not equal healthy), and I suspect, encourages an unhealthy body image for the majority of readers.

    As a vegan and a woman it saddens me to see this within our community.

    Thank you so much for bringing this issue up.

  21. Jon Says:

    Well, most diet and health issues are related to obesity, and in that sense, being thin isn’t related to being vegan because carbohydrates have calories. Not as many as fats, but as many as proteins. And carbs are often the most forgettable, least filling calories. Especially soft drinks. The average American teenager consumes 3.1 12-oz cans of soda per day, adding 500 calories to their diets. (That’s not including soda at restaurants, convenience stores, movie theaters, sports arenas, or from 20-oz bottles, 8-oz cans, or 2-litre bottles.) This soda has other effects independent of caloric content; today, we’re encountering seven-year-olds with diabetes.

    I mean, I eat meat regularly, but I’m thin. On the other hand, anyone who’s ever been to a suburban mall knows of all the overweight goth (or emo or whatever the hell white kids who wear all-black call themselves now) girls who are vegan.

  22. G Says:

    Why not name the blog, “This is why your body is inadequate.” While food intake does have a huge impact on ones size it is not the only contributing factor. Healthy and fit is something everyone should aspire to, thin that’s not exactly a positive or attainable goal.

    Now there is a poll asking if she should include non vegan submissions. I guess advocating a plant based diet 100% of the time is too much. She writes that dairy “disgust” her yet she is willing to include it on her blog. Uhh note to self. And all the comments about the white rice is silly , she used a ton of white flour on the Vegan Lunch Box blog.

  23. Maria Says:

    I prefer to eat raw foods because I just feel better and my skin looks great, but every now and then I crave sweets and other foods. I’m not skinny but I certainly lost a lot of weight when I switched to a raw diet. Oddly enough, I’ve discovered all of these vegan and vegetarian spots in DC to eat. I’ve been trying different items on their menus such as veggie chili & cheese dogs, pepper “steak” , cupcakes and all. Iv’e came to the conclusion due to the way my stomach feels that there is no way I could eat like ths every day. Not only that, I would certainly gain weight as it is very easy for me to do so.

  24. Lisa Says:

    Thank you for this!

  25. Derek Says:

    I’m a vegetarian and about 100 pounds overweight.

  26. lagusta Says:

    Oh VoC! Thank you for finally providing me with a place to say what I have always felt and never voiced: I’ve always gotten an icky feeling from that vegan lunchbox blog. It irritated me all to hell with it’s twee fussiness, and so I’m not surprised one bit that the creator has created such a ridiculous and insulting and just ICK blog name. I know ooooodles of not skinny but also not unhealthy vegans! It’s always so saddening when vegans are no smarter than regular people. I’ve been vegan for 16 years and I guess it’s time to learn that not all vegans are awesome.

  27. [...] Asians are all thin & veganism makes you lose weight, lucky me. (A fallacious argument I hate — two links there, [...]

  28. Paquita Says:

    I agree that thin is not the priority, compassion is. However, I cannot even believe the amount of press and new vegans that I have met since Skinny Bitch came out, and I am so extremely grateful for this. I am also not into selling female bodies, but we cannot regulate the world. I am grateful for every single vegan working in his/her segment of society. And I think that losing weight is a huge market. WHile in our modern world of soy ice cream, being vegan may not mean losing weight, if one ditches sugars, eats whole grains, and is vegan, then a lot of people will at least lower their cholesterol and lose some weight.
    It seems that veganism is often a pathway to thinking more about food. While I became a vegan over a decade ago when the junk food choices were not available, I was still eating white pasta. However, veganism has eventually changed all areas of my life and now I eat much better, try to buy ethical clothing, know a lot more about the health benefits and the environmental benefits of veganism. I just hate to see our community divided, as we have so much in common. I do think that if you are eating a whole foods vegan diet and cut the sugar that you are going to have an easier time with your weight than if you are still eating fatty meats or cheese.


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