Veganism is growing in popularity. It’s the biggest social trend of 2016.
Perhaps so many people are turning to veganism because of a growing conversation about sustainability. Perhaps more people are turning to veganism to jump on the bandwaggon. It’s quite the sensation.
There is something about veganism that troubles me. It’s not just veganism that troubles me, I want that to be clear. It’s any type of dietary change that relies on restriction. That includes the paleo “diet” and the various other diets around that cut out large food groups.
I want to preface this article by saying that I am totally cool with whatever food choices you want to make. If you want to be a vegan, go for you life. It’s not my business and I will fight for your right to make that choice. But I would ask that you respect my decision not to practise veganism just as I respect your decision to be a vegan.
It has become clear to me over the past couple of months that veganism has really taken off and has a following much more substantial than any other diet has. It has also become clear to me that once you openly become a vegan you are socially obliged to continue. Breaking veganism is seen as tabboo, sometimes as a failure. I say this because I have watched one high-profile woman, Jordan Younger who broke veganism in 2014, be torn to shreds.
Jordan writes: “I spent…several months ignoring my body’s internal cues. I longed to try new things that looked and sounded good to me, but ethically I couldn’t do it.
Living life in moderation isn’t a sin. It’s a beautiful thing… To accept moderation, to accept balance, to allow for happiness and growth and change and fluctuation. Life is an ebb and flow, and our bodies and our mindsets evolve!
My body was trying to speak to me for many months and I did not listen. As a result, I grew extremely deficient in a variety of vitamins and hormones and knocked myself way out of whack.”
Jordan was criticised and torn apart. Her personality, her integrity and her morality was questioned for doing something that was right and healthy for her. One woman wrote:
“I read recently how these people are being paid to say their vegan diet almost killed them. ‘They’ I can only assume the meat industry, is hiring young attractive ladies to trash talk being a vegan.”
It is the attachment of morality to food that is the problem. It’s as if once you start being a vegan that is the only way to live from that moment until the day you die. Instead of Jordan’s honesty being supported and embraced, she was cut down in the worst possible way. She was shamed not just for her food choices but for who she was.
It is not our business to decide what is right or wrong for someone else. That is why I will protect your right to eat whatever it is you want, provided nobody gets hurt. I will fiercely defend your freedom to chose what is right for you. That also means that I will fiercely defend those who chose NOT to be vegan if that is what’s right for them.
Something interesting happened when Jordan Younger, formally know as The Blonde Vegan, broke veganism. She may have received a barage of criticism but she also received support people within the vegan and vegetarian communities who were afraid of returning to a balanced diet for fear of criticism.
One woman wrote: “Jordan, I want to thank you for this amazing post. It could not have come at a better time for me. Just today, I removed “vegan” from my social media profiles because it was a label I felt that I did not fit..I was losing my love of food, dining with friends, and the purpose behind my switch…My goal from the outset was “to do better.” To be kinder to my body, animals, and our planet and eating a 100% vegan diet isn’t the only way to do better. I applaud your honesty and your label breaking. You gotta do you.”
Veganism and a plant-based diet has become a means of attracting more followers on social media. I’m sure the vegan community can be extremely supportive. But I also have no doubt that breaking ties with veganism can be frightening and intimidating. I have no doubt that there are vegans who are reticent to break this lifestyle for fear of judgement and ridicule. For fear that their morality and ethics will come under fire.
This is not okay. It is not acceptable to place someone’s morality into question based on what they eat. There is nothing wrong with not being vegan. If that is what you need that is absolutely okay. You should not have to apologise to anyone for doing what’s best for you.
Veganism is most certainly not for me. I am very open and honest about that. I am not ashamed of that fact either. What works best for me is balance and eating all different food groups.
It’s important to realise that everyone is different. Veganism works for some people. One of those people is Greg Chappell, a high profile Australian cricketer. Veganism doesn’t work for some people. One of those people is Jordan Younger.
When I speak out about veganism not working for me or my lifestyle, my personality is often attacked. I must be a BAD person. Well, I’m not a bad person. I know that. My friends and family know that too.
What I eat does not determine WHO I am. It does not define me. And it doesn’t define you either.
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