Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

An example of what I've been ranting about all these years!

Vegansaurus highlights an obnoxious advert by Physicians' Committee.... Now, I like PCRM, in general. I have a few reservations about any group promoting veganism on health grounds, but can appreciate one that doesn't actually push it as a miracle cure/source of immortality. Likewise, they've always been a bit too anti-dietary fats for my taste (even if we ignored the health benefits of, say, olive or coconut oil, emphasising this angle would lead to a fairly joyless diet for many of us, which is of course a brilliant way of putting people off being vegan), but on the other hand I haven't seen any noticeable fat-shaming from them. Until now.

When I started this blog back in 2008, part of my motivation was to challenge the seemingly uncritical delight taken by vegans in sources such as the Skinny Bitch franchise and Gillian McKeith. (Since getting vocal on the subject, I have come across more critics, and GMK in particular has lost a lot of her popularity after eating insects on TV.) I've ranted about discussed related topics many times since then. I'm sure some people wonder why I give so much energy to this topic. Certainly, tofu-world friends* have asked why it bothers me so much. After all, if selling people a diet plan encourages them to go vegan, what's the problem?

I'll tell you what the problem is. VEGANISM ISN'T ABOUT GETTING SKINNY. Some people, for better or worse, experience that as a side-effect of going vegan. Others don't. Some put on weight. Some just stay the same, wherever they started from. And if you want to promote veganism for animal rights reasons, equating veganism with perfect health is a bit dodgy. A vegan diet is no more automatically healthy than an omni one - any diet takes a bit of work to get the right nutrients. Equating skinny with healthy is quite frankly dangerous - not everyone is designed that way. And equating veganism with the aesthetic side of skinniness? Just, no. As much as anything, if someone cares about 'getting skinny' over all else, do you really think they'll stay vegan if the weight doesn't fall off? If they get skinny and get sick, meanwhile, veganism will be blamed. This is how some of the more prominent ex-vegans seem to have come to be that way.

And the advert in question, well, it seems to be trading purely on the idea that fat is a Bad Thing aesthetically - that it looks gross, for a start, and furthermore is a sign that you must have been killing baby calves to keep yourself in such disgusting shape. A vegan, by this reckoning, absolutely cannot look like that. Sadly, many unskinny vegans (myself included) tend to have this strange thing called dignity that prevents us dropping trou/getting topless at PCRM HQ - possibly alongside a couple of the skinny omnis/lacto-vegs I know - and challenging the people behind the advert to spot the difference.

I'm with Fuck Yeah Fat Vegans on this one...

*Veganising 'meatworld', internet-obsessive speak for real life

(Originally posted at Increasing Veganicity)

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Comment by Tim Gier on January 25, 2012 at 1:03

You're exactly right Kerry!! When non-vegans get sick, all too many of them just put more stuff (drugs) into their bodies to counteract all the other stuff (saturated fats, cholesterol, etc.) they put into their bodies!  There's a commercial for some kind of "stomach cure" that shows people in great discomfort from eating huge amounts of disgusting food. Rather than them thinking "Hey maybe I should stop eating huge amounts of disgusting food" they just take a pill. Are people crazy or what??

And just to be clear, I used to be one of those people too - it's not like I'm immune to the same silly thinking that everyone is prone to - bit since becoming vegan, I've avoided those problems, thank goodness. 

Comment by Kerry Baker on January 22, 2012 at 10:21

Agree.  One of the things that amazes me however is that when a vegan gets sick it's because we are vegans.  We are told we have to go off a vegan diet to get well.  When an omnivore gets sick nobody tells them it's because they eat meat.  I think the biggest problem is that whatever diet you choose you need to be educated about nutrition. That has little to do with getting skinny, which to me implies deprivation in any case, a kind of anorexic attitude to food. It's about getting all the nutrients to keep the body healthy.  People can be healthy when they are overweight, just as people can be ill when they are not.

Comment by Tim Gier on January 21, 2012 at 9:43

Thanks for posting this. I believe it's important for vegans to be honest and realistic about the whatever benefits veganism may provide for humans, but first and foremost, veganism isn't about what's good for humans, it's about what is owed to other animals. I also believe that the "lose weight and be happy (or sexy, or popular, or whatever)" mantra reinforces many of the stereotypes that contribute to marginalizing and stigmatizing human beings.

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