The Harmful Connotations of Vegan Guilt Trips and “Clean Eating” Trends
In an ideal world we would all be more aware of what we eat and have a stronger sense of how to eat ethically. What I cannot abide, however, are those who pedal the idea that eating meat and dairy is just as offensive as crimes against disenfranchised racial minorities, women and other members of society that are below par; socially, economically and legislatively. I saw a debate on BBC three in which the vegan representative compared harvesting dairy products to rape and racism. As a survivor of sexual assault, and a reasonable human being, I found this heinous and offensive. Now this standpoint obviously won’t be held by all vegans, but it is an argument I have seen dozens of times online.
The sense of a moral high ground exuded by those who post vegan propaganda is not only annoying, but utterly ignorant of the standpoints of those who are unable to adopt this lifestyle, due to health, financial status and other undoubtedly pressing factors. Whatever “Tasty” vegan recipe’s featuring quinoa, fake goats' cheese, oat milk and jackfruit you share on Facebook, by claiming this to be the only morally acceptable way of eating, you neglect to recognise that most people cannot afford these products on a regular basis, if at all. That in order to maintain a healthy and balanced diet as a vegan, you have to have a certain amount of money. Eating chips everyday - whilst delicious and cheap - won’t sustain you. I would like some of the privileged vegans making these posts online to consider the classist connotations of their forceful and judgemental language.
Veganism’s sister “clean eating” perpetrates similar class prejudice, whilst adding an unhealthy dose of body-shaming. My first, most surface-level, criticism of this trend is in the title, the idea that anything consumed averse to the laws of “clean eating” is unclean and therefore what? Unnecessary? Unhealthy? Certainly not. As an anorexic seventeen-year-old my meal plan consisted of cake, red meat and a LOT of hot chocolate. And no, I wasn’t excluded from the internets need to cleanse myself. I grew to hate sugar and “clean eating” justified my disorder. It was a mental shield I could use against any discouragement toward my diet. Now I’m sure no one posting about clean eating would encourage an anorexic teenager to follow the same rules as themselves, but what these ambassadors to the cause fail to realise is that the internet is accessible to all, and that people create their own context for your words.
Food is such a personal and individual part of our lives, every persons’ body is different, which means that no finite set of rules can apply to all. We should all be aware of what we are putting in our bodies and how our decisions effect the environment; but we also need to banish the notion that there is one food manifesto for all to live by. Much like with religion, do what you want, but don’t post about it on Facebook to make the rest of us feel like we are doing life wrong. It’s ignorant and really obnoxious.