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Welcome to the weekly debate thread..

I have a radfem instagram in which I also post vegan activism. I get a lot of hate for my veganism, largely from other radical feminists. This isn't surprising to me considering that most radfems have the same excuses and anti-vegan beliefs and dissonance that the general public has ("animals eat other animals," "I'm a lion," "my ancestors eat meat," etc).

However, the one excuse and anti-vegan comment I see the most is that veganism is an eating disorder or will lead to an eating disorder.

Using veganism as a means to avoid eating or to restrict your calories has everything to do with your eating disorder and nothing to do with veganism. An eating disorder is a behavioral disorder, whether its an overeating or undereating disorder, and a mental illness. Veganism is a lifestyle which strives to reduce and eliminate the use of animal products in ones life. These two things have nothing to do with each other.

I have an eating disorder, albeit it is an overeating disorder, so it is not recognized, glamorized or popularized the way undereating disorders are. I have been vegan 5 years and I am vegan for the animals. I am able to separate my eating disordered behaviors and my desire to prevent unnecessary suffering from animals; one is a behavioral/mental condition I live with, the other is my morals and values.

I have seen a lot of radfems claim that veganism is inherently bad for women because its an ED or leads to "restriction." I find this to be massively condescending, firstly because there is an assumption that all women want to diet or dont know how to feed themselves properly if they were to be vegan, and secondly because most vegans are women! We are the ones who care about this issue and actually give a shit about saving animals!

Welcome to the weekly debate thread.. I have a radfem instagram in which I also post vegan activism. I get a lot of hate for my veganism, largely from other radical feminists. This isn't surprising to me considering that most radfems have the same excuses and anti-vegan beliefs and dissonance that the general public has ("animals eat other animals," "I'm a lion," "my ancestors eat meat," etc). However, the one excuse and anti-vegan comment I see the most is that veganism is an eating disorder or will lead to an eating disorder. Using veganism as a means to avoid eating or to restrict your calories has everything to do with your eating disorder and nothing to do with veganism. An eating disorder is a behavioral disorder, whether its an overeating or undereating disorder, and a mental illness. Veganism is a lifestyle which strives to reduce and eliminate the use of animal products in ones life. These two things have nothing to do with each other. I have an eating disorder, albeit it is an overeating disorder, so it is not recognized, glamorized or popularized the way undereating disorders are. I have been vegan 5 years and I am vegan for the animals. I am able to separate my eating disordered behaviors and my desire to prevent unnecessary suffering from animals; one is a behavioral/mental condition I live with, the other is my morals and values. I have seen a lot of radfems claim that veganism is inherently bad for women because its an ED or leads to "restriction." I find this to be massively condescending, firstly because there is an assumption that all women want to diet or dont know how to feed themselves properly if they were to be vegan, and secondly because most vegans are women! We are the ones who care about this issue and actually give a shit about saving animals!

23 comments

[–] courage2courage 16 points (+16|-0)

There is so much misinformation about veganism. I suspect this is a conflation with fruitarianism, which is notorious for its disordered eating element.

Veganism is a very broad church, because even when you remove meat and dairy from your diet, there's still a bazillion other different foods you can eat. You can be a junk food vegan, whole food plant based, be any combination of high/low fat/carb, eat only strawberries or gateaux, whatever. What you eat within a vegan lifestyle is what you make it, and if you have a history of ED then pay attention to yourself and know your triggers.

Does veganism attract people with EDs? That would be a better question and maybe the answer is yes. Despite being vegan, somehow I've never caught one of these contagious vegan EDs so I can't say for sure but perhaps eliminating the (so-called) food groups of meat and dairy is appealing to people who have EDs. But veganism does not "give you" an eating disorder any more than eating meat does.

[–] Researcher1536 8 points (+8|-0)

I'm trying to ease myself into going full vegan. I appreciate this circle. A friend is a fruitarian. She lost so much weight that she looks sickly, and she wonders why she has developed all these health problems she didn't have when she was vegan. She got sucked into a raw fruit cult Instagram account.

[–] ursula 8 points (+8|-0)

Take your time. Focus on adding, not taking away. You can do it. Even one meal, one serving, one bite less of animal products helps the animals.

[–] MotherlySquirrel 11 points (+11|-0) Edited

I feel like this might be more an "adjusted diets attract those who have disordered eating habits" kind of deal. If you look around in the communities for people who eat meat with meat and only meat you aren't exactly going to think those people are generally living a non-disordered diet either.

People probably highly associate veganism with certain mental images of celebrities that didn't do too well on a vegan diet or they remember stories like "parents killed todler by forcing it to be vegan!" while in reality what happened is that they only gave the child water and a weekly apple and it had way more to do with it being a more general case of neglect. This ofcourse also completely ignores the fact that there are plenty of people who do just fine as vegans and some even manage to be high achieving athletes.

Idk, I've seen some odd opinions roaming rad fem communities these past few months in regards to diet and health.

[–] ursula 10 points (+10|-0)

I mean Oreos are vegan. I think because people are morally imperfect but wholly unable to accept that about themselves, they lash out against anything that hurts their egos or sense of being a moral person.

There's nothing stopping anyone from reducing the animal products they consume either, except their own ability to admit that they're causing harm when they don't.

No, they're not. They use sugar filtered through animal bones.

[–] ursula 6 points (+6|-0)

Yes, they are. Thanks for omni-splaining veganism to me tho.

[–] platypus 9 points (+9|-0)

I'm also a vegan ED-survivor. I find it the opposite of restriction, in practice. Vegan food is less calorically dense in general, so I can eat throughout the day without worrying that "oh no, this will make me fat." I know I can really easily maintain a healthy weight, even if I "indulge" and eat a bunch of candy or something.
On top of that, I feel like veganism has shifted my association with food from "this is about weight" to "this is about helping animals." When I shop I'm not counting calories, I'm looking for new delicious vegan foods to try. Because the more delicious vegan foods I learn about and the more I can make veganism an enjoyable experience for myself, the more I can help other people transition to veganism in a fun and easy way.
Even when I'm feeling negative about myself, I'm still motivated to stay healthy so I don't make veganism look bad. Many days that one exact thought has convinced me to eat when I was really tempted to restrict.

Of course that's just my experience. I've heard there are people whose ED involved veganism in some way. But I'd say I've met way more people whose ED recovery involved veganism because it takes the emphasis off you and your body, and onto activism and concern for animals.

[–] InvisibleWoman 3 points (+3|-0)

I'm so glad veganism has helped you with your ED. I've had a similar experience with it: approaching food from a moral perspective allowed me to reframe it in my mind and take concrete steps towards healthier eating.

It has been my experience that those who use veganism as an excuse to limit their food intake usually don't remain vegan for a very long time and move onto another restricted diet instead.

[–] RegularFeminist 8 points (+8|-0)

In my experience, feminists who oppose veganism, do it because they find it restricting. Their argument is that women are constantly told what to eat and how much to it, while men can eat everything.

I see where they are coming from like, for example, recently I was mad at basically the only place in my city which sells vegan shawarma. The description of meat shawarmas was addressed to men, and the description of a vegan one was addressed towards women. I also find it quite sexist.

What those feminists don't understand is that ethical vegans (unlike the cafe from my example) don't advertise veganism towards women only. Yeah, it's kind of restrictive, but if I say, that I wish people stopped eating meat, I mean both men and women. So you can't compare veganism with other diets

Sometimes I think the best way to lead is to share our ideas, and keep sharing them. And ignore haters/trolls/naysayers/critics. I don't get into debates with people. That's fine if they disagree with me. I'm not going to waste my time or energy trying to sway their mind. I just keep doing my thing. Maybe that would work for you? Just keep your eye on your own lane and do your thing - if you don't engage with them, they will fall away. But you've planted the seed in their minds, even if they can't let it grow now.

[–] [Deleted] 7 points (+7|-0)

I think some of them come from an ED background and assume that we use veganism the way they did.

I do it because of the animals. My problems with food are the opposite, it is hard for me to control weight gain. I'm short with a smaller frame but have always been heavier. There's a point where I cannot gain more weight without it hurting my body. I need to be under this point. This struggle has followed me since omni times.

Any small hope I had of veganism helping me restrict went out the window when I discovered Gardein, vegan pizza, chips and hummus and ice cream. So I can see how one can get into it with hopes to restrict, the stereotype is that we eat salads and fruit, so how can you gain weight?

Ultimately I stuck with it because of the animals, same reason I went in. What you do with your meal choices is on you. You can restrict or have a balanced diet. Or you can be like me during COVID bored out of my mind eating all the delicious vegan snacks.

Veganism alone isn't a weight loss plan. The thing is that some people start tacking other rules to it, which isn't always a problem depending on your health needs, but then it can get to the point of orthorexia.

[–] toukaaa 2 points (+2|-0)

I can understand the knee jerk reaction to what is perceived as diet culture. What I don't understand is the cognitive dissonance coming from a group of people so keen on critical thinking. I do feel a need to draw a line in the sand between actual radfem criticism (restriction and eating disorders, moralization of food, the way women are expected to take on every social issue, etc) and general ignorance, since I'm only willing to engage with the former. Anything else makes my eyes roll into the back of my head, radfem or not.

[–] somegenerichandle -10 points (+1|-11) Edited

I don't think it is always the case, but one has to have a very strong will not to fall into restricted clean eating. I sense that you are very emotional about this topic, and I am not wholly convinced you are strawmanning the comments. Applying morality to food is dangerous. Animal products are not the problem, it's the system. We can chose ethical, local farmers. Although, if we buy from purdue and similar we are complicit. I know not everyone can afford quality meat, and reducing meat intake is a good alternative. Almond milk is a huge environmental issue that many vegans choose to ignore. Many of the vegans i know in real life are not cognizant of how many items use animal products. Condoms, medicine, cosmetics use animal products. And these are the same people who don't hear me when i say i can't be vegan because of my ED. And don't get me started on the restaurant workers who assume by my looks i am an illiterate vegetarian.

[–] margerydaw 7 points (+7|-0)

Wow, so much weird shit to unpack in this comment 😂

I sense that you are very emotional about this topic

Tone policing right off the bat, so we're not off to a promising start.

Applying morality to food is dangerous.

Animals are sentient beings with a will to live, not "food".

We can chose ethical, local farmers.

You will not get away with that here. What does an ethical slaughter look like? How can you justify killing an animal for your own personal pleasure?

Almond milk is a huge environmental issue that many vegans choose to ignore.

  1. Almond milk is one of many dairy alternatives. More sustainable options like oat milk and pea milk are growing in popularity.
  2. Animal agriculture is FAR worse when it comes to environmental impacts. http://veganstart.org/wp-content/uploads/vs-info-water-use-farmscape.jpg

Many of the vegans i know in real life are not cognizant of how many items use animal products.

As another commentor mentioned, you don't seem to know much about what veganism is. Veganism makes allowances for medications and anything that is not realistically practical to avoid when you make your best effort. Additionally, it's easy to find vegan cosmetics and condoms. Maybe your friends are doing that and not sharing every detail of their purchases with you.

And don't get me started on the restaurant workers who assume by my looks i am an illiterate vegetarian.

I honestly have no clue what the hell this means or what you're implying. I highly doubt you can read restaurant workers minds, and I also doubt that they are calling you an "illiterate vegetarian" to your face, so I'm just gonna call absolute bullshit on this.

Acknowledging that OP is in distress is not tone policing. It's expressing concern. Sometimes the things we vehemently oppose are our actual problems. People who are defensive with any mention of alcoholism or in this case disordered eating may have a problem. I think the people who commented on OPs posts were most likely expressing concern that they have traded one set of disordered eating for another, not saying all veganism was disordered.

Ethical slaughter would be decent treatment in life and a swift, painless death. Death is not a punishment.

So what conclusion would you come to if you routinely ordered food that clearly had meat in it and were questioned by staff?

[–] margerydaw 6 points (+6|-0)

Trying to turn your tone policing into "expressing concern" is gaslighting, so you're just digging yourself further down. Not one single other word of your comment expressed any iota of thought, much less concern, over OP's wellbeing so I don't buy that claim one bit. Especially when you followed up you alleged "concern" with a debate point about strawmanning. You were trying to discredit OP's argument. That's the epitome of tone policing.

Ethical slaughter would be decent treatment in life and a swift, painless death. Death is not a punishment.

So then do you think that it's possible to ethically slaughter a healthy human as long as you treated them well while they were alive and you offer them a swift, painless death? And if not, why is it ok to do to a non-human animal?

So what conclusion would you come to if you routinely ordered food that clearly had meat in it and were questioned by staff?

Lol I honestly don't know what you're talking about here. This sounds like a highly idiosyncratic situation, tbh. It's weird that you're presenting it like this is a common problem that everyone is going to understand.

[–] ursula 5 points (+6|-1)

Why are you even here then? Condoms and medicine are still ethically vegan if they use animal products. Clearly you don't understand what veganism actually means.

[–] somegenerichandle -6 points (+0|-6) Edited

I was browsing by new. I assumed with the debate tag it was open to all users. Do you care to explain to me how something can be ethically vegan but use animals or point me to a resource?

[–] ursula 7 points (+8|-1) Edited

Veganism is reducing animal suffering by as much as possible. Sadly nothing is perfect and holding yourself, and especially others, to an impossible standard will not work.