Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Uninvited Vegan Nutrition Critics: You Need to Stop.

 



An open letter to those vegans who offer unsolicited opinions on my vegan food choices,

Not that I asked for your opinion*, but since you offered it, we should probably just have this conversation. I’ve brought it up before but maybe you need a reminder or you didn’t see it the first time. Or maybe I need to be more direct. In that case, let me cut to the chase: I don’t care what you think of my vegan food choices.


I don’t mean to sound snippy but that’s kind of the long and short of it. I will continue to return the favor and most assuredly not care about your food – at least not enough to voice concern or condemnation – because as long as it’s vegan, I truly don’t care. And I think you should do the same thing.

Because…

I don’t care if you think I should be raw.

I don’t care if you think I should be a fruitarian.

I don’t care if you think I should be raw until a certain hour of the day.

I don’t care if you think I should re-examine my relationship to nightshades.

I never made a promise to be raw, a fruitarian, raw until a certain hour of the day or apprehensive about nightshades so you don’t need to supervise or patrol me on that. I’m good. I hereby relieve you of this role that you seem to have assigned yourself. I have no ethical attachment to those other dietary choices and I also feel no responsibility to speak up about your vegan dietary choices. I have, however, made a promise to be vegan and I do have an ethical attachment and responsibility to maintain it.

In the same vein, I don’t care if you think I eat too many or too few many carbs as evidenced by the occasional food photographs I may share. It seems that you think you can extrapolate from a single photograph that this picture represents the entirety of my diet and I don’t want to waste a lot of time wondering why you’ve reached this bizarre conclusion because even if it were accurate, which it isn’t, it is fundamentally besides the point because it’s not your business.

And, again, I really don’t care.

Eat all the mono-fruit meals you want and if that makes you feel great, I am happy for you. Truly. Non-sarcastically. Happier people create a happier world and maybe one with fewer unsolicited opinions about someone based on whether nuts are consumed or are verboten. So post your gigantic produce hauls – go ahead. Eat barrels of rice and mountains of potatoes if that is your thing. Similarly, you can scrupulously avoid soy, gluten and sugar: I promise you that it has no bearing on my life. See how easy this is? Imagine how great you're going to feel to be relieved of the burden of ensuring the optimal dietary practices of someone else.

I have to say that for a vegan to be so bothered by the presumed nutritional standards of other vegans, I cannot imagine how you get by in life, being offended enough by a picture of pasta, tofu and broccoli that you would think berating a stranger is an appropriate response. What does your nervous system do in the case of, I don’t know, Donald Trump? Ted Cruz? The trickle down, institutionalized racism that obstructs access to a fair education? The cesspools of fecal waste leaching into our groundwater as the polluters are given tax exemptions and no penalties? Carpet-bombing random Muslim communities? What do these things do to your emotional health knowing how upsetting it is to you that I may have cavalierly combined starch with protein?  

I suppose in this increasingly stressful world, it’s easier to care about things like whether someone else is eating a diet that is not high-alkaline or raw enough for your standards than those things I mentioned above. I believe that we’d live in a better world, though, if we cared more about those other issues and less about rushing to judgement about what is on another vegan’s plate.

So here is what I propose -- if you see a vegan food photo of mine that makes your fingers tingle with a desire to post a critique, I’d ask you to ask yourself one simple question: Did I ask for anyone’s opinion on the nutritional value of what I was eating? If yes, feel free to offer it. If no, don’t. It really isn’t so complicated and we’ll be on better terms if you don’t jump to conclusions and voice opinions about the kind of person I am based on the vegetable-to-starch ratio represented in a single photo. It’s not fair, it’s nosy and it’s obnoxious. If, however, you want to ensure that the viewing public feels justified in believing that vegans are a bunch of joyless scolds who micromanage one another and are pushy about whatever personal dietary preferences they have, by all means, continue. I know that this is not what veganism is about, though, and I’d be really grateful if I didn’t feel obligated to reverse the messaging you put into the public realm so that the animals could actually stand a chance of not being born into oppression.

Does that work for you? I hope so. Have some pancakes. Or don’t. I really don’t care.  

xo -

Marla

*This does not mean that I don’t care about health and that I am recommending that people eat junk food. Having been down this road before, I know that to an absolutist mindset, everything I have written here becomes, “Oh, she’s telling people to eat processed foods! She’s the one who is ruining veganism!” If that if your conclusion after reading what I’ve written, this disclaimer is for you: Read this again if you need to but I never said anything of that nature. Everyone has a different opinion about what constitutes processed or harmful foods and it is very open to individual interpretations. Some people think hummus is processed; others think walnuts are evil. The take-away is that I am vegan, I never promised to follow anyone else’s dietary advice and nor did I ask for it. I am not “asking” for help or advice so unless I am, don’t offer it. It is controlling, presumptuous and condescending. Now was that an endorsement of “junk” food?


25 comments:

Alessandra said...

Oh how much I enjoyed reading this! Thank you so much.

SallyT said...

You go girl! Great post.

Christina-Bobina said...

Well said!

Tomi said...

Best post I've read on any blog in a long time! Good for you! Militant vegans turn me off. Thank you for saying what many of us think so often. :)

Page said...

Thank you for this post! Think I'll fix a batch of vegan lemon poppyseed pancakes!

Linda said...

I totally agree with all you said here. Plus, after much experimentation, I notice I do best when I eat intuitively, yet vegan, by responding to feelings of hunger, and asking myself what I want to eat. My weight stabilizes and the stress level goes down. But, a judgy vegan who shoots down my food choices can mess with my mojo.

soren said...

As long as it's mostly vegan, I truly don't care. Veganish for life!

mactheweb said...

Absolutely! Food fanatics do so much harm to the vegan movement.

Marla said...

Thank you, Alessandra!

Marla said...

Thank you, SallyT! You go, too! ;)

Marla said...

Thank you, Christina-Bobina!

Marla said...

Thank you, Tomi! I really appreciate it.

Marla said...

Thanks, Page! Please make some for me, too. :D

Marla said...

Yes, Linda! Words of wisdom. It can be hard to crowd out all the neurotic voices, though!

Marla said...

Thanks, Soren!

Marla said...

I agree, mactheweb. Loads of harm.

Anonymous said...

Once when I was buying Quaker Oats in California, the person behind me at checkout said she couldn't believe I was buying those. I pointed out that nothing had been killed. She countered by saying they had too much paper packaging and had been hot pressed, which damages those vital B vitamins. I would do better to get the cold steel cut oats from the bulk bins. Really?
I have aged out of tolerating hearing about anyone's food preferences. It's fine if not eating white food has changed your life. But I don't need to hear about it. Also, since I think it's bull crap if your internist told you you were starving the week you were a vegan, you might keep that to yourself.

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LeahDD said...

Similarly, I don't understand why people get so worked up over WHY someone is vegan if that reason happens to be different than theirs. I may not think that "meat is murder," but I am trying to save the planet. As long as we have the same goal - being vegan - the reason for that goal should not matter.

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Jeannie said...

I once saw someone worry that diced canned tomatoes were more processed than whole canned tomatoes...

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